President Putin redux


"Who wants to be president? Raise your hand."



Prime Minister Vladimir Putin went before the Duma yesterday to give his annual “what the government’s been up to” address (not to be confused with his annual “what I’ve been up to” address).

Those with THREE HOURS to kill, and with developed Russian skills, can watch the whole video here.

Those wanting to get the rundown should read this story, on Putin’s Four Year Plan to boost Russia’s birthrate by 30 percent (how? Money, of course!). Also take a look at this story, which highlights what else Putin plans to spend money on (roads! sports! babies!). Putin also said he had no plans to crack down on the Internet (of particular concern since an FSB official raised the prospect of banning Gmail, Hotmail and Skype – something the Kremlin and White House later slapped down). He took a nice swipe at the US, calling its monetary policy “hooliganism.” He also made some bad jokes (who doesn’t find the actions of the 1937 Soviet secret police funny?) and you can read about that (in Russian) here.

But what the speech did, more than anything, is add further fuel to the Who Will Be Russia’s Next President Fire. To some, Putin’s speech amounted to a manifesto. To others, it was his “strongest hint yet that he wants to return to the presidency next year.” Putin has been Russia’s foremost leader for over a decade now and is still pretty damn young (and, by the way, he’s been looking tauter and younger than his 58 years lately). He installed a loyal and bland man as his presidential successor. He has (alleged) millions upon millions of dollars to guard. The idea of him going anywhere is just funny at this point. I suspect we’ll have hours of grandiose speeches for years to come (though his title might change along the way).