President Putin addressing his political party, United Russia, at their congress, indicated he might be receptive to the idea of becoming prime minister after he steps down as president next year. “Heading the government is a realistic idea, but it is too early to think about this now.” He said before making such a decision he would have to know there was a president who is an “orderly, capable, and effective person.” Of course, last month he made an old friend, Zubkov, the prime minister, a man who fits the qualifications Putin is desiring in a president.
In other words, Putin wants a front man serving as president who will obey the ringmaster, Vladmir Putin. Putin will never achieve greatness because he lacks understand of his nation’s need for leaders who can step down from power and entrust others with that responsibility. Power dominates Putin’s mind and he will not surrender it, even if it means circumventing the Russian constitution.
Russian journalists in the Saratov region sent an open letter to President Putin urging him to protect freedom of the press which is under assault by the president’s political party, United Russia. A local paper reported that State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin accidentally had shot a woman with a speargun and was immediately charged with libel by state prosecutors. This incident comes after a paper printed a satirical cartoon of Putin and faces the prospect of not being able to publish any longer. The reporters believe United Russia is engaged in a full scale effort to crush freedom of the press in Russia and will not allow any criticism, however minor, to be printed in newspapers.
Russia is facing a crisis regarding freedom of speech and the press. Continued economic progress had made the average Russian less interested in their basic right of free speech. Putin employs subtle methods of silencing opposition to his rule.