The Kremlin is considering changing election rules in an effort to secure its lock on parliament ahead of potentially vital decisions that could extend Vladimir Putin’s rule, Bloomberg reports.
If the plans materialize, the ruling United Russia party will be able to retain the majority in the State Duma. What is more, conducting the reform will allow Putin to become ‘the prime minister possessing extended powers’ when his term of office is over in 2024, Bloomberg said with reference to two anonymous sources close to the Kremlin and a member of United Russia who did not want to be identified as well.
“The Kremlin is now considering cutting the share of seats elected by party lists in the 450-member State Duma lower house of parliament to only 25% from half under current law, according to two people familiar with the preparations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential matters. The rest would be elected in local districts where many pro-Kremlin candidates run as nominally independent to avoid the stigma of United Russia membership,” the article by Bloomberg’s contributors Ilya Arkhipov and Henry Meyer reads.
Dominating the parliament, United Russia may make the necessary amendments to the Constitution, including the delegation of certain authorities from President to Prime Minister, the authors suggest.
In March, the media outlet assumed that Putin may play Belarus-Russia card to stay in power, i.e. start pressing Belarus into uniting with Russia to create a new state so that he could sidestep constitutional term limits.
In December 2018, the chief editor of “Echo of Moscow” Alexey Venediktov on the air of his radio station told how Moscow views the possibility of the annexation of Belarus. Venediktov is known for his informal friendship with many representatives of the Kremlin, in particular, with Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov. According to the journalist, Belarus’ accession to Russia is one of the options of extending Putin’s being in power.
At the end of 2018, the Belarusian-Russian relations significantly deteriorated. In late December. there were some meetings of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader pressed for ‘further integration’ while his Belarusian counterpart insisted on reducing gas prices and getting compensation for the tax maneuver.