WILL Vladimir Putin resign as the Russian president in the next few days? Not, of course, because he has been a failure in the job he has held for almost eight years but because by doing so he might be able to extend his tenure. The idea was floated this week by the Speaker of the Senate, Sergei Mironov, who is the third most senior politician in Russia. The Russian constitution prohibits a president from serving for longer than two consecutive terms, so Mr Putin's time is almost up; but Mr Mironov's idea is that he should resign before the parliamentary elections on December 2, thus not concluding his second term, and then stand again for president next March. It gives some idea of how desperate the Russians are to keep Mr Putin as their leader that such a devious idea should be put forward by a senior politician and several other options being considered to keep him in play in the Kremlin. Meanwhile Mr Putin is throwing himself into the parliamentary elections with speeches that do not even try to hide his accumulated anger at Western interference in the way that Russia runs its affairs. His reference to the opposition “jackals who slink through foreign embassies” looking for money and other forms of help could have come from a Soviet leader of long ago.


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