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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Come On, Putin, Show Us the Plan




We are still waiting to hear Vladimir Putin's thoughts on some of the matters that trouble us - particularly, how Putin feels about the Interior Ministry's decision to sell an irritating journalist into Chechen slavery, or worse.


As we see it, so far either a) acting President Putin approves of what has happened to Radio Liberty's Andrei Babitsky; b) Putin does not think it worthy of comment; or c) Putin disapproves - but is incapable of condemning it, or unwilling to.


Take your pick. None offers a very heartening commentary on our president-in-waiting's prospects.


For that matter, we would still like to know what Putin thinks about the Interior Ministry's thuggish intimidation of another journalist, Alexander Khinshtein of Moskovsky Komsomolets; and we are all ears as to how Putin feels about the Swiss arrest warrant out on one of Putin's current officials and former bosses, Pavel Borodin.


We have asked such questions before, without a clear reply. But on Tuesday, Putin did provide an indirect answer of sorts - a kind of commentary on his willingness to participate in a democratic give-and-take.


The acting president was shown on ORT television speaking to university students about a program of action he is developing. As Putin explains, he does not want this program to become "an object of attack," and so chooses not to share the details until after the March 26 election.


"As soon as it is made public, it will be gnawed at and torn to pieces," Putin explains.


So Putin chooses not to make it public. He apparently enjoys that luxury. He is riding high in the polls, and every other serious contender has stepped aside. At this juncture, March 26 seems sure to pit Putin against Communist Gennady Zyuganov for an easy first-round win, while also-rans Yury Skuratov, Grigory Yavlinsky and Vladimir Zhirinovsky look on.


Given his all-but-certain election, we can't help thinking Putin could be a bit more generous and share his program. After all, it is being produced at a think tank headed by a deputy Cabinet minister and funded largely by state-owned institutions like Gazprom, Transneft and UES - in other words, by taxpayers' rubles.


Of course, there would be criticism and discussion - that's the sort of exchange of ideas and arguments that is at the heart of democracy. Putin may be the shoe-in president, but in theory, he is not above the democratic process, and it would do him no dishonor to bow to it a bit.


- Matt Bivens