Adv Abdul Rasool Syed l

Eventually, constitutional reforms package announced by Putin got overwhelming approval by Russian nation. These reforms will reset Mr Putin’s term limits to zero in 2024, allowing him to serve two more six-year terms.

The Kremlin hailed the poll as a “triumph” and Mr Putin thanked Russians for their “support and trust”, adding that they were “improving the political system, firming up social guarantees, strengthening sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Putin, through enacting these reforms has succeeded in getting constitutional as well as legal cover to extend his monocracy by 2036.The world is amazed at how he rules and with  which magic wand he controls the world’s largest country.

Vladimir Putin is beyond any doubt, a name of a great sensation in international politics nowadays. He has strikingly proved his mettle not only in statecraft but also in tactics of global diplomacy. He, by virtue of his success at home as well as abroad has won laurels even from his bitter detractors. US President Trump also could not help eulogizing Putin on many occasions.

Russians are infatuated with Putin and deem him as messiah since he is the one and the only who uplifted their country from nadir to apogee. It is because of his nation’s unprecedented love and recognition of his services for the country that he has been ruling over the world’s largest country since 2000. He, so far, has won four electoral terms. Last time in 2018, he won the election in 76.69% of the ballots whereas no other candidate was able to come closer to him. The voting percentage acquired by him has been drastically increased than the last presidential election and he would continue to hold the helm of power till 2024. This is irrefutable testimony to the fact that the Russian nation is spellbound by Putin’s charismatic persona.

He is, no doubt, a man of phenomenal achievements in both the internal and external domain of statecraft. Undeniably, he has created a huge impact on the world as well as on his country.

Externally, he has taken his country to new heights that it has now resumed to re-assert itself. The world, now, keeps an eagle eye on every move of Russia and the term Russophobia finds prominence in international media particularly in the west.

Putin aspires to re-gain the lost influence of his country in “near Abroad”. The latest examples of such moves are the Ukraine conflict and the annexation of Crimea. Those who were taken aback by Putin’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent Russian-fuelled conflict in eastern Ukraine should have remembered: six years earlier, he set the mould for the “Putin doctrine” in Georgia; under which Russia would use troops to protect its interests in a sphere of influence hemmed in by NATO’s advance.

Putin is staunchly against the NATO’s eastward expansion. Under Yeltsin, Russia pursed the policy of grudging cooperation with NATO. All that changed under Putin. Since his first interview with BBC, Putin made it clear that NATO’s eastward expansion represents a threat to his country. That’s why Moscow finally started showing its military muscle to NATO to push it back. The newly aggressive stance of Putin has worried Poland and the Baltics, as well as the Nordic countries. Even Sweden and Finland have started musing aloud about joining NATO.

Additionally, on external front, Putin is the vocal proponent of multipolar world. In one of his interview, when he was asked about the reason of surging Russophobia in the west, he replied that It is because of his stance on multipolar world that monopolist don’t appreciate. Putin stands up to western hegemony and, with china, acts as balance to the overweening military and political power of the US. If Yeltsin was consistently in America’s pocket, then Putin has been on its back.

In pursuit of multipolarity, Putin has shifted in recent years toward greater economic and military cooperation with Asian countries whose growing economies are hungry for Russia’s energy and whose governments are less judgmental of its human rights records. Putin has brokered two huge deals to supply china with gas and the two countries have also held joint naval exercise in May this year in the Mediterranean Sea.

On contrary, Russian relations with west are in tatters in many ways. Russophobia is ubiquitous in west. Consequently, whatever wrong happens there in west is attributed to Russia. Anglo-Russians relations are strained nowadays. London which was once a second favourite home for Russians where oligarchs parked their kids in swanky schools listed their companies on stock and bought football clubs has now turned into a safe haven for the entire dissident community of anti-putinistas that has further worsened the relationship between the two countries. Last year, Russia has been accused by the Britain for poisoning a Russian agent living in England under political asylum. British Prime Minister, Theresa May announced to expel twenty three Russian diplomats identified as having links to espionage. Russia in return expelled some British diplomats and took decision to close down British council in Moscow. This situation aptly depicts the diplomatic storm that Russia is currently facing. It would continue to deteriorate Russia’s ties with west badly and the eventual outcome would be Putin’s dream of moving towards grand Eurasian strategy which would bolster the closer links with Asia.

Moreover, Putin also strived hard to project the soft image of his country to the world. In this respect, The Sochi winter Olympics in 2014 and FIFA World cup in 2018 were a triumph for the Putin since no measure security breach took place during these international events.

Putin also played pivotal in reviving the country’s ailing economy. When he assumed the office, Russian economy was just emerging from the disastrous market reforms of 1990s and the 1998 financial crisis. He slashed taxes to benefit business; he also re-nationalized key sectors, starting with the dismantling of political foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s of Yukos Oil Company in 2003. Nonetheless, unused manufacturing capacity and rising prices for oil, Russia’s main export, helped in ushering an era of unprecedented prosperity that Putin is still remembered for, with real disposable income doubling between 1999 and 2006.

Besides, Putin took over a country whose population was falling at an alarming rate. Russia –a population of about 150 million at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union—was losing people at a rate of almost a million a year. However, the decline gradually bottomed out, and in 2010, the population started growing again. The secret to this reversal was largely economic: as their financial situation improved during Putin’s reign, Russians began to procreate. The country now has more than 146 million people, up from 142 million in 2008. Even if we don’t count the 2.2 million people that it gained by annexing Crimea, it’s still a positive trend.

Alongside a crackdown on opposition, NGOs and the internet, Putin introduced new legislation inspired by his vision of Russia as a bastion of traditional morals. The most egregious example was the 2013 ban on gay propaganda, which LGBT rights activists say has contributed to a rise in homophobic harassment in the country, including vigilante group violence. Other legislation imposed fines for the use of expletives on television, radio and in films shown in theatres, drawing criticism from musicians and directors.

To cap it all, The Putin’s era marked by internal and external success would come to an end in 2024 but the Russians are so much in love with Putin that no one ventures to predict the end of Putanism. However, Putin has to vacate the Kremlin one day, who would be his successor remains elusive so far but it is an undeniable fact that he and his legacy would serve as a guiding star for his successors to come and Russians would ever remain beholden to him for the services that he rendered for the restoration of power, prestige and sovereignty of his country…

Abdul Rasool Syed is Advocate cum-columnist based in Quetta. Views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Info Corridor. 


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