Putin just demonstrated how a leader can constitutionally lock himself into power forever

Donald Trump loves to test the waters about abolishing Presidential term limits. As much as he might fantasize about becoming dictator-in-chief, it would take a lot to actually make it happen, so I wouldn't hold my breath worrying about it.

That being said, Vladimir Putin just found a sneaky way to lock himself into power until at least 2036: tacking a rider onto another, humongous bill, just hours before the Parliament votes on it.

In the past, Mr. Putin proceeded cautiously, seeking to preserve a veneer of legitimacy. Confronting term limits in 2008, Mr. Putin opted for a four-year hiatus as prime minister while his protégé, Dmitri A. Medvedev, became the caretaker president.

In January he proposed some nebulous constitutional changes that analysts said pointed to his intention to stay beyond the end of his current term.

But with his proposal on Tuesday, Mr. Putin seemed to prefer something bolder, saying he supported the legislation for the good of the country. The president is the guarantor “of the security of our state, of its internal stability — its internal, evolutionary stability,” Mr. Putin said. “And I mean evolutionary. We’ve had enough revolutions.”

[…]

“No one is saying” Mr. Putin will run again in 2024, one lawmaker, Aleksandr Khinshtein, said in a televised interview. “But the possibility of doing so must exist for the head of state in order to maintain stability in society.”

I guess bad faith arguments for implausible deniability are totally fine when your country is run for decades by a famously guileful spymaster. Read the rest

Russian Orthodox Patriarch announces church-government inquiry to prove that the Tsar was killed in 1917 as part of a Jewish ritual

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church says he's working with Vladimir Putin to convene a Church-based inquiry into whether the execution of the royal family by revolutionaries in 1917 was actually a Jewish ritual killing; this appears to be an actual thing the Russian state is about to do, with many details confirmed in a public statement by Moscow's General Prosecutor. Read the rest