Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belkovsky's Prediction for 2007

MTBelkovsky speaking to reporters Tuesday, flanked by National Strategy Institute officials Yury Solozobov, left, and Mikhail Remizov.
By 2007 Russia could have a new Constitution with "an uncrowned monarch" as leader, elected by parliament members rather than by popular vote, prominent political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky said Tuesday.

One-third of the presidential administration, "including the siloviki," would support such a development, he said.

The Kremlin is considering several competing proposals for a new Constitution, none of which has yet taken shape, Belkovsky said.

"There is an understanding in the presidential administration that a new Constitution is needed. It could be adopted in 2007," said Belkovsky, who heads the National Strategy Institute. He was once considered close to the authoritarian-leaning siloviki but in recent months has grown increasingly critical of President Vladimir Putin's administration.

While Belkovsky did not elaborate on his understanding of Kremlin plans, the idea of a new Constitution to allow Putin to run for a third presidential term in 2008 or to turn Russia into a parliamentary republic with Putin at the helm was widely discussed last year.

Some of Belkovsky's previous pronouncements have proven eerily prescient, as with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, whom Belkovsky accused of plotting an oligarchic coup shortly before the then-Yukos CEO was arrested in October 2003 on tax and fraud charges.

Belkovsky said he would counter the Kremlin's plans by proposing his own draft Constitution to those opposed to Putin, which he said includes mid-level bureaucrats who have been at the sharp end of the benefits protests and are now increasingly disenchanted with the president.

Belkovsky said Putin's image had suffered most over the painful benefits reforms, which have angered many of his traditional core supporters and led to street protests across Russia in recent weeks.

According to polls taken by the pro-Kremlin Public Opinion Foundation, Putin's personal approval ratings fell by 22 percentage points over the past year. In January 2004, 65 percent of respondents said they would vote for Putin, compared to 43 percent last month.

"The scenario of leaving Putin in power [after 2008] is unrealistic," Belkovsky said.

He said his proposed Constitution would include a strong leader, "an uncrowned monarch," who would stand above the executive, legislative and judicial branches of power.

Other proposals would include an unlimited number of presidential terms, of at least seven years each, and the scrapping of direct presidential elections. Instead, the members of the Federal Assembly -- the joint convocation of the State Duma and the Federation Council -- would select the country's leader, Belkovsky said.

Elections for regional governors, on the other hand, should be brought back, he said.

Belkovsky said he would release the details of his proposal after a public discussion of its main principles.

Among other ideas Belkovsky floated were allowances for regional diversity in legislation, such as laws permitting polygamy in Muslim-dominated regions, and the possibility of incorporating former Soviet republics, or their separatist regions, as associate units of the Russian Federation, he said.

Belkovsky predicted that two new political forces, which he termed "the new left and the new right," would emerge next year, and said they could demand that the Kremlin call a constituent assembly to pass a Constitution along the lines he proposed.

When pressed as to who would make up such a constituent assembly, Belkovsky said it could include representatives from such groups as the Army, law enforcement agencies, religious organizations and trade unions.

The new left force would be "a mix of Brezhnev and Che Guevara," while the right force would take as its slogan, "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, National Roots," Belkovsky said.

Both the new left and the new right, he said, would draw members from today's Rodina and Communist parties, and would include mid-level bureaucrats disenchanted with Putin.

When asked who might lead a new left force, Belkovsky said, "The leader hasn't yet come to light. We know who he is, but we'll not name names."

Vladimir Pribylovsky, head of the Panorama think tank, said it "was not impossible" that groups opposed to Putin would call for a new Constitution, if discontent with Putin and the pro-Kremlin United Russia party continues to grow.

Alternatively, Belkovsky could be using his Constitution proposal to scare the public and make it agree to a less extreme version that would still suit the Kremlin, Pribylovsky said.

"Belkovsky is a very well-qualified spin doctor who wants to work with the Kremlin," Pribylovsky said. "Maybe he's looking for a job."