A political leader who stays above politics
“They say you can’t have your cake and eat it, too,” but outgoing President Vladimir Putin has just done “the political equivalent,” said Mikhail Rostovsky in Moskovsky Komsomolets. In preparation for his move to the post of prime minister, which he’ll take when his presidential term ends in May, Putin has “graciously consented” to become the leader of United Russia, the pro-Kremlin ruling party. But he did not officially become a member of the party. Instead, he subverted the entire point of party politics. Parties exist to “unite like-minded people who uphold the same ideology.” The leader of a party is generally someone who has worked his way up through the ranks. By accepting Putin as a leader but not as a member, United Russia has showed that it perceives him not as its democratic head but “as a lord and master with the right to smite everyone else at will.” Putin has guaranteed his continued power even after he leaves the presidential office. But he has also “made a mockery” of the idea that Russia has a democratic party system.