With all due respect to Jerusalem-Moscow relations, Putin's attention has been on other matters this week • In less than four years, the Russian president will complete a fourth term, and his departure from the stage is not an option, even if the law says otherwise • One of the options: Establishing a new governmental authority
Russia's collapsing economy is the obstacle to its future plans. Putin
Then in the early 1990s, St. Petersburg Mayor, known as Russia's "Northern Capital", Anatoly Sobchak, visited Israel. Sobchak was one of Russia's top and most influential politicians of the transition period from Soviet Communism to the New Age, but it was not a work visit. The charismatic mayor has been invited for a week of fun in the Jewish state to get to know her and feel affection for her in the future. The trip succeeded as expected, the high-ranking guest enjoying the sunshine of the Land of Israel and the wealth of the country's people. The diligent assistant he brought with him enjoyed equally.
Nearly three decades have passed. Sobchak soon lost his political power, charged with corruption and died. Whoever was his assistant went a different route. Yesterday he came to Israel again, this time for an official visit as president awaiting many. It is to be hoped that the official of that visit, 30 years ago, did not forget Vladimir Putin, and to which other significant experiences were added yesterday.
Russian President meets with Benjamin Netanyahu // Photo: PM
After all, state relations are primarily based on interests, but personal relations are also expressed. People who have come into contact with the Russian president testify in a uniform voice that Israel and the Jews have a positive attitude, which is not at all obvious to anyone who grew up in the KGB ranks, and considers the disintegration of the USSR into the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.
With all due respect to Israeli-Russian relations, most of the attention of the Russian President was this week on completely different matters. On Putin's international level, another sign has also been added, adding Libya to the list of disputes where the arrangement would not be possible, how not, without the Russian agreement.
Russia has been stirring in the Libyan cauldron for several years, supporting Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar's forces fighting the "national consensus government" led by Faiz a-Saraj.
Moscow has provided arms, advisers and perhaps fighters from the private armies established by the Kremlin. The novelty is that Russia's rivals have also recently been forced to admit that without it there is no chance of reconciling the various parties in the Libyan civil war. The Russian intervention tactics have paid off again, much like what happened in Syria, and today it is clear that if any arrangement is reached, Putin will be the main bridesmaid. And if the arrangement is not reached? The Russians will not be too sorry. They will continue to help Hafter until he takes control of Libya, or what is left of it, by force of arms, just as happened in Syria.
The merger needs two
Although achievement in the Libyan arena is important to the Russian president, his main move is currently in Russia. Relatively quietly, without any real opposition from the outside and without much interest from the outside, Putin is abruptly changing his regime in his country, something that in another country was defined almost as a coup. Only in the case of Russia can everything be reversed, and one thing remains stable - Putin's control of the kingdom.
For some time, the Russian top has been dealing with what is known as the "2024 problem." That year, Putin will complete his second (and fourth) term in office, and what if the Constitution does not allow him another term? Of course, it is possible to abolish the restriction in the Constitution, but that would be too blatant a step. Like many authoritarian regimes, visibility for Russian rule is important, and a clearly changed personal constitution seems bad, so it is better to avoid it. Make no mistake, Putin's departure from the stage is also not an option, and around him are seeking a creative solution to how to stay in control without bearing the title of president.
One of the options we considered was to merge Russia with Belarus into a single state, and allow Putin to head the United State. The process of rapprochement between Russia and Belarus has been going on for a long time, and formally they have even concluded agreements that may lead to full merger.
However, a merger, like Tango, needs two, and Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko prefers to remain "tiny in the air" in his humble possession, rather than handing it over a tray of money to the original Putin. Lukashenko runs a complex game - once hinting at his desire to promote the merger (mainly to get economic benefits from the Russians) and once blocking it, so that possibility of the "2024 problem" cannot be certain.
That is why the Kremlin decided to create an infrastructure for another solution - to prepare Russia for a change of power relations between the government authorities, in a way that would reduce the importance of the presidency and empower another government authority at its expense. That is how Putin can move from the president's position to another, without dropping the shares of true control of the country.
What would be the same other role? Maybe the prime minister, maybe the parliamentary mayor, and maybe the head of a new government body called the State Council. Putin does not seem to have fallen yet, so Putin is surprisingly bringing a whole bundle of constitutional reforms, the only common denominator of which is the strengthening of all the said authorities.
"In 10 years everything changes"
The State Council is extremely intriguing in this regard. So far, she has not been part of the balance of power. After the constitution is amended in the coming months, the council will become a key player. "President Putin has decided to nominate ... Putin as mayor of the State Council, and more indefinitely," sarcastically states it to Leonid Guzman, one of the most prominent figures among the opposition and the omnipotent leader. But sarcasm is all that is left to the opposition in Russia. It has no political influence that can thwart change.
In fact, the only obstacle that could interfere with Putin's future plans to maintain control of the country is its faltering economy, and he knows it too. To precede medicine for Mecca, his regime change plan was accompanied this week by a fairly generous package of benefits. A high grant for each family with the birth of the first child, a dramatic increase in child allowances, a mortgage grant with the birth of the third child and even a hot portion for elementary school children. All so that the average Russian, who does not live in Moscow and is not politically involved, will see the President as the worrying savior and unthinkable.
According to Piotr Stolipin, Prime Minister of the Last Tsar Nikolai, is attributed to the saying that "within 10 years everything in Russia will change, and within 200 years nothing will change in it." More than 100 years have passed since then, only confirming its correctness. Russia still prefers to head the nation, whether described as a czar, president or head of state.