There is no doubt that the Putin regime in Russia is rapidly losing in both respect and popularity. The later is reported by those polling agencies able to do so, and the former is obvious in any conversation with any Russian citizen about anthing these days.
According to the constitution, Russia will have elections for a new Duma in 2007 and new presidential elections in 2008. Having then already served two terms, Vladimir Putin will have to step down and leave room for someone else, much like what is the case in the United States.
There are few that believe that this is what will actually happen. For some time, it’s been standard on the Moscow rumour circuit to speculate about different ways in which Putin and his entourage could remain in some sort of control.
But all those speculations have centered on 2008.
Now, things are changing. There are Western observers who don’t really see that the regime, on present trends, can last that long. The signs of decline, division and decay are simply too many, they argue. And there are certainly Russian observers that tend to agree.
So it’s hardly surprusing that one encounters speculations about possible Kremlin plans to engineer some sort of transition to a Putin 3 regime much earlier.
The linked article from Moscow Times notes some of the signs that can possibly be detected of such plans being prepared. And it notes that the political platform that then seems to be emerging is one of intense nationalism and discreetly anti-Western militarism.
These, one should note, are not speculations or comments originating in circles far away that could be expected to say something along these lines.
These are speculations from well inside the inner ringroad in Moscow.
And accordingly worth reading and contemplating.