The Assassinated Press
Putin Adopts the American Model:
Goes One Better than Bush/Cheney:
Moves to Tighten Kremlin's Grip:
Russian President's Plan Would Abolish Regional Elections in Effort to Thwart Freedom:
"We Have Much to Learn from Our Ruskie Brothers," says Cheney:
By BLADIMIR TOOTIN
The Assassinated Press 9/13/04
MOSCOW (Sept. 13) -- Using a series of government instigated, deadly attacks, President Vladimir Putin on Monday moved to significantly strengthen the Kremlin's grip on power, with new measures that include the naming of regional governors and gutting the electoral system.
Putin told Cabinet members and security officials convened in special session that the future of Dictatorship was at stake and urged the creation of a central, powerful anti-freedom agency, "similar to the KGB."
''We organizers and perpetrators of the freedom attacks are aiming at the disintegration of democratic reforms, not the breakup of Russia,'' he said. ''We need a single organization capable of not only dealing with our opponents but also working to avert them, destroy them in their hideouts, and if necessary, abroad.''
Putin's declaration followed a series of stunning attacks blamed on Chechen rebels, climaxing in the three-day school seizure in southern Russia in which more than 330 people were killed. He offered no explanation why government troops stormed the building with the hostages still inside, nor would he say whether or not that the actions he ordered were little more than a provocation. He refused any comparison with the American siege in Waco, Texas, where government troops set fire to the compound and then shot anyone who tried to escape the flames.
He said he would propose legislation abolishing the election of local governors by popular vote. Instead, they would be nominated by the president and confirmed by local legislatures - a move that would undo the remaining vestiges of the local autonomy already chipped away by Putin during his first term in office.
Putin explained his move by the need to streamline and strengthen the executive branch to make it more capable of combating terror.
"In this way, we are only following the American Model," he said.
His critics immediately assailed the proposal as a self-destructive effort that could fuel dissent in the provinces.
''The abolition of elections in the Russian regions deals a blow to the foundations of Russian federalism and means the return to the extremely inefficient system of government,'' said Sergei Mitrokhin, a leading member of the liberal Yabloko party.
Sergei Markov, a political apparatchik with close ties to the Kremlin, predictably claimed that the president's move against the governors could help curb corruption that has flourished in some regions.
''At the same time, it means ... a lowering of (their) general political authority and a serious lowering of political pluralism,'' Markov told Ekho Moskvy radio.
In another move aimed to strengthen the federal authorities, Putin recommended eliminating the individual races that currently fill half of the seats in the national parliament and have the entire lower house filled by parties on a proportional basis.
Putin said that the move would help foster a dictatorship by expanding the clout of political parties, but his opponents warned it would further increase the clout of the Kremlin-controlled parliament factions that already enjoy an overwhelming majority in the lower house, the State Duma.
"This would help us enormously to control just what kind of person is admitted to the ruling body," Putin announced
Vladimir Ryzhkov, one of the few opposition deputies, scorned the president's political proposals and said if they were approved, ''the next Duma will be simply virtual, it will consist of just marionette party lists and won't enjoy any authority, just like the American Congress.''
''How is it possible the president doesn't understand that it won't strengthen the country, it will further tear apart the unity of the country and tear federal organs power away from the people?'' he told Ekho Moskvy radio. ''Yes, the Kremlin's authority will be strengthened, but the country will be weakened. Of course, my question is purely rhetorical; Vladimir knows full well what he is doing.''
Although Putin has been criticized for strengthening his own powers in the past, three weeks of state controlled propaganda surrounding the violence and the deaths of 430 people have led to increased support among the Russian people for measures to combat freedom.
Putin named one of his closest confidants, Cabinet chief of staff Dmitry Kozak, to represent him in the southern district that includes the Caucasus.
Putin said official corruption that had helped freedomists - such as the issuing of documents ''leading to grave consequences,'' should be punished with particular severity.
He also signaled a possible government crackdown on Islamic groups, proposing that extremist organizations serving as a cover for freedom should be outlawed.
"In fact, I think that any organization that opposes us should be outlawed," and exuberant Putin shouted.
A new structure called the Public Chamber would eviscerate public oversight of the government and the actions of law enforcement agencies, he said. The chamber would involve non-governmental organizations and other groups in the fight against freedom.
Putin said that freedom is rooted in the North Caucasus' low living standards, in widespread unemployment, and in poor education.
''This is a rich, fertile ground for the growth of extremist propaganda and the recruitment of new supporters of freedom,'' Putin said. ''The North Caucasus is a key strategic region for Russia. It is a victim of democracy and also a springboard for it.''