ERR editors Anvar Samost and Ainar Ruussaar commented the Russian presidential election on Sunday, speculating how the country might go on beyond the year 2024, when Vladimir Putin's next term expires.
According to Samost, Sunday's presidential election in Russia on one hand served to confirm Vladimir Putin's claim to office, and also to show that at least nominally, he can be challenged if there is someone who wants to do so.
In Ruussaar's opinion, Putin is left with just two options in any case, namely to hold on to power, or then to leave the country. "And at the moment he can hold on to power," Ruussaar said.
Putin's opponents in this election were all hand-picked, which is the reason why opposition leader Alexei Navalny wasn't among them, Samost argued. Navalny wouldn't have been a serious contender either, but he would likely have gathered a few percent of the vote under his name.
According to Russian law, the president can serve two consecutive terms, though he isn't limited in the total number of terms. Managing his power accordingly, Putin made way for Dmitri Medvedev in 2008, but became president again in 2012. He is now looking at another six-year term.
"For Estonia and likely also for plenty of other countries, what happens after 2024 is an important question," Samost said, adding that the question now was just how Putin would continue, whether or not the Kremlin would be getting ready to pass on his powers to a successor, and who that successor might be.
Samost said he doesn't consider it impossible that something might happen as it recently did in China, where the local dictator had himself appointed the country's ruler for life and basically had the according change written into the constitution.
"Based on today's information I'd assume this Chinese variant is what's going to happen. A certain president's power will be fixed for life, and with it Russia will formally join the group of countries where you've already got Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan and other similar countries," Samost said.
Ruussaar pointed to the role that the state-controlled media play in Russia. Every other news update has to be about the president, which means that we are not likely to see Putin tone down his Cold War-type talk.
"Putin's rhetoric is entirely out of the Cold War. 'We fight great wars, we arm ourselves with the best weapons of the world.' We see this every year on May 9, and we have to live with that, and we live with it, too," Ruussaar said.
The current Russian state and its rhetoric represented an ideology built on the remnants of the Soviet Union after its collapse. This ideology, now dominant in society, is Soviet in so far as it is built on the epos of the Soviet Union's victory in the Great Patriotic War, Samost and Ruussaar agreed.
Editor: Dario Cavegn