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Subject: Putin increases Kremlin's power following terrorist attacks
Big Bad Pariah    9/14/2004 1:24:23 AM
Putin floats plans to tighten grip on Russia after deadly attacks MOSCOW : President Vladimir Putin announced plans to tighten Kremlin control over Russia's sprawling regions along with other steps needed to combat terrorism after the Beslan school hostage tragedy. In wide-ranging remarks to more than 500 top officials from throughout the country, Putin said the current structure of state power was not sufficient to fight terror adequately. He told the meeting called in response to the Beslan crisis that powerful regional governors currently chosen by universal suffrage should instead be elected by legislative bodies acting on a "proposal from the head of state." And all 450 members of the State Duma, the national parliament, should be chosen by proportional representation instead of under the current system whereby half are chosen that way and the other half by direct majority vote. "We have not achieved visible results in rooting out terrorism and in destroying its sources," Putin told the Kremlin meeting, also attended by cabinet ministers and senior regional officials and policy advisors. The roots of terrorism, he added, "lie in unemployment, in insufficiently effective socio-economic policy and in insufficient education." Putin said his proposals for changes in the election of regional governors and members of the State Duma would be submitted to the legislature by year's end and pledged that they would be drafted in accordance with the Constitution. The Russian leader announced the measures 10 days after hundreds of children and parents were killed in the violent end to a three-day hostage siege at the school in Beslan in the southern Russian region of North Ossetia. That tragedy capped a series of extremist attacks in Russia that included the near-simultaneous bombing of two commercial airliners on August 24 and a suicide bomb attack near a crowded Moscow subway station on August 31. Putin announced two days after the tragic end to the Beslan school crisis that he planned to undertake sweeping measures to tighten security nationwide and to correct lapses that arose with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some however warned that his proposals Monday could backfire by diminishing the accountability of elected officials before voters and concentrating too much power in the hands of one man. "Of course, this initiative has positive aspects. But I think negative factors outweigh [the positive ones]. And what counts most is that this will undoubtedly limit people's rights, including the fact that people will lose their right to make a choice," former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told Interfax on Monday. "Putin has planned to centralise power and tighten the screws from the time he came to power," commented Yury Korgunyuk of the Indem think-tank in Moscow. "Terrorism is the pretext. The goal is to place the entire power apparatus under his personal control." In a statement, the liberal Yabloko party described the measures proposed by Putin as "anti-Constitutional" and said that if approved by the Duma they would mark "the end of federalism" in Russia. Vladimir Pekhtin, the deputy speaker of the Duma and a leading member of the pro-Putin United Russia Party, voiced support for Putin's initiatives, saying the country "today, like never before" needed such measures. In his address, the Russian president also focused specifically on the northern Caucasus, describing the area as "an important strategic region for Russia" but also one "where the position of terrorists is strengthening." Unemployment was significantly higher and health care standards and other social benefits significantly lower in the north Caucasus than elsewhere in Russia, creating ripe conditions for extremists, he said. "The fight against terrorism demands a radical renewal of the entire policy in the north Caucasus," Putin said. He announced the creation of a new federal commission to be headed by Dmitry Kozak, the government's chief of staff and a close Putin ally, whose main task would be to find ways to improve the standard of living in the north Caucasus. Putin also repeated warnings from other senior officials in recent days that Russia would go after "terrorists" wherever it found them. "Terrorists must be eliminated directly in their lairs, and if the situation requires it they must be attacked, including abroad," Putin said. "The fight against terror is our shared duty and it requires mobilization of all the resources of the state," he added. - AFP
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KiloHound    RE:Putin increases Kremlin's power following terrorist attacks   9/14/2004 2:49:02 AM
As usual Russian liberals are screaming about the end of democracy and Putin's dicator ambitions.
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Big Bad Pariah    RE:Putin increases Kremlin's power following terrorist attacks   9/16/2004 2:47:05 PM
Not just liberals. Boris Yeltsin has come out against Putin now aswell... Yeltsin warns Russia rolling back democracy in wake of Beslan crisis MOSCOW : Russia's first post-Soviet leader Boris Yeltsin issued a veiled warning that President Vladimir Putin's decision to hand sweeping new powers to the Kremlin in the wake of the Beslan hostage crisis could roll back democratic freedoms. "We should not allow ourselves to step away from the letter -- or the spirit -- of a constitution that the country adopted in a national referendum in 1993," he told the Moscow News daily. Russia's current constitution was drafted by Yeltsin aides amid a brutal political fight with entrenched communists who at the time had control over the parliament. It put power in the hands of the presidency but also introduced direct elections for regional governors and reserved half of the seats in parliament for locally elected lawmakers -- measures that Putin revoked this week. Yeltsin, 73, who had anointed former KGB agent Putin as his successor, broke a silence that has largely characterized his recent years to express concern about the course Russia is taking. "The strangling of freedoms, the rollback of democratic rights -- this can only mean that the terrorists won," Yeltsin said. "Only a democratic country can successfully lead a fight against terrorism," Yeltsin wrote. The interview, released to the media on Thursday, will be published in the paper's Friday edition. Putin has announced plans to abolish direct suffrage to elect regional governors across Russia in the wake of the Beslan school hostage crisis, which killed nearly 340 people, half of them children. Gubernatorial candidates will instead be put forward by the Kremlin for local regional governments to approve. Elections to the lower house of parliament, already two-thirds controlled by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, will be held in future only on a party list basis, ending the right of independent candidates to contest half the seats in the State Duma. The move is expected to help parties like United Russia and hurt smaller liberal factions which now have only a handful of representatives in parliament. "These measures are unconstitutional," fumed Alexander Ivanchenko, the deputy head of the Yabloko faction which, along with other liberal forces, lost almost all their seats in parliament. "It is very important that Yeltsin spoke of this, since after all, he is the author of the constitution," agreed another ousted liberal, Boris Nemtsov, who served as a deputy prime minister under Yeltsin. European countries and the United States have criticized Putin's measures, voicing concern that they will weaken democracy and return Russia towards its Soviet past. Yeltsin chose Putin as his successor before dramatically resigning on December 31, 1999, amid ill health and single-digit approval ratings. He has at times criticized Putin's policies, but his latest comments, though veiled, were some of his sternest yet against the new regime. Yeltsin called the Beslan crisis a "watershed" for Russia. "Now, we are all different," he said. "And the nation is also different." The government has linked the Beslan attack to rebels from breakaway Chechnya and international terror networks. Yeltsin waged the first Chechen war in 1994-96, later calling it his greatest political mistake. The second campaign began in the twilight of his presidency, spearheaded by Putin, his prime minister at the time. Putin has repeatedly proclaimed the second Chechen war as over and won, despite almost daily deaths on both sides in the conflict. The West cooled its criticism of the war following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and Putin's proclamation that Russia was joining the global war on terror. But Washington infuriated Putin this month by calling for negotiations with the rebels and offering to meet with some of the separatist leaders to help solve the conflict. Yeltsin, whose time in office saw the regions win unprecedented independence from Moscow -- a move that critics said led to corruption and crime -- defended his right to personally contact Putin and criticize his latest moves. "I think that this is a correct and civilized way for two presidents -- the former and the current one -- to conduct their relations," Yeltsin said. - AFP
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Kadett    Bring back the Romanovs   9/18/2004 11:41:50 PM
Monarchs have a tendency not to roll back democratic measures and the fact that Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna is the current heir. A Tsarina would be a bit more open to democracy than a Tsar would it seems to me. Then, Putin could be granted control of the Russian military should he so wish and concentrate on annihilating the Chechen terrorists..
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Final Historian    RE:Bring back the Romanovs   9/19/2004 12:19:40 AM
"Monarchs have a tendency not to roll back democratic measures " only because when they do they tend to face something called "revolution." Putin is making a blatant power grab, and the world is letting him get away with it.
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Kadett    RE:Bring back the Romanovs   9/19/2004 1:37:50 AM
>>only because when they do they tend to face something called "revolution."<< One of the nice things about monarchy: Inherent checks and balances. Besides, I advocate a constitutional monarchy. >>Putin is making a blatant power grab, and the world is letting him get away with it. << Not much the world can do about it..
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Big Bad Pariah    RE:Bring back the Romanovs   9/20/2004 12:01:09 PM
"Putin is making a blatant power grab, and the world is letting him get away with it." Indeed, it seems so.
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stratego    RE:Bring back the Romanovs--Final Historian   1/13/2005 1:09:14 AM
The world is too busy dealing with the dogs of war set loose by the Soviets and now the Russians to deal with Russia itself.
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