President Vladimir Putin, barred by Russia’s constitution from running for a third consecutive term, signaled Wednesday that he expects to play a role in setting government policy after he leaves office in 2008.
The 54-year-old Russian leader again fended off speculation that he might be considering a way to serve another term. Supporters and various regional groups, including in Chechnya, have called for amending the country’s laws to allow him to stay in power.
“Despite the fact that I like my job, the constitution doesn’t allow me to run a third time in a row,” he told one questioner in a wide-ranging, three-hour, nationally televised broadcast.
With his popularity high, Putin sees the annual question-and-answer session from citizens around the country — his fifth since taking office in 2000 — as an opportunity to show he can respond directly to voters’ concerns. He said the trust Russians have in him will allow him to keep influencing the nation after his presidency.
“Even having lost the powers and the levers of presidential power, and not tailoring the basic law according to my personal interests, I will manage to retain the most important thing that a person involved in politics must cherish — your trust,” he said. “And using that, you and I will be able to exert influence on the life of our country and guarantee its development.”
Well, I would like to know what trust Putin has. After the murder of opposition journalist Politovskaya and a general bashing of opposition leaders with a grave situation of insecurity, Putin’s comments about the accusations of rape and sexual harrasment to the Israeli Prime Minister are not really a comfort for this future control of Russian affairs. (also in The Guardian, ABC International, NYT)
According to journalists and officials in the room and published accounts by Agence France-Presse late Wednesday and Kommersant and The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Mr. Putin was heard saying, “Say hello to your president,” to Mr. Olmert, referring to President Moshe Katsav, who could face criminal charges that he raped and assaulted two former employees. Mr. Putin added, “He really surprised us.” The microphone was quickly turned off as reporters were ushered from the room, but the news organizations reported that Mr. Putin went on. “We did not know he could deal with 10 women,” he said, according to those in the room and the Post and Agence France-Presse accounts, apparently referring to the complaints by several women that Mr. Katsav harassed them or worse. Kommersant’s version — citing the remarks in Russian — was cruder. “He turned out to be quite a powerful man,” the paper’s reporter in the official Kremlin pool, Andrei Kolesnikov, quoted Mr. Putin as saying. “He raped 10 women. I never expected it from him. He surprised all of us. We all envy him.”
When I first read this statement, I really could not believe my eyes. So I read it again, and again. But no, it was real. So imagine my surprise when I read that this could be an example of “Russian humour” (via Global Voices Online):
I am more inclined to think that the manner in which a Russian would interpret such remarks is vastly different from how a westerner would. Russian humour, often thought not to exist, is very dry and often exceptionally dark. In many cases, it cares little for the sensibilities of those who are easily offended. This is, after all, a country which within living memory deemed half of its citizens criminals and threw them into icy labour camps. So my take is that Putin was simply making an exceptionally crude joke which would not cause the same offence to the Russian men in his entourage as it would to western journalists.
Whereas I understand humour is not basicly the same in all countries, I really think this is trully rejectable. It is not what “Western Journalists” could think of it, it is just what rape victims -and any normal people even in Russia- would think of someone who is joking about rape and sexual harrasment. What is more according to murdered Politovskaya, Russian army demands between 200 to 400 rubel not to rape civilian women hostages.
Well, it was better the reason the Kremlin gave about the joke: it was not meant to be overheard. Oh, well, errr, what????
La Constitución Rusa no deja a Putin presentarse a una reelección. Sin embargo, dice que quiere seguir teniendo influencia después de que haya dejado de estar en el Gobierno. Dice que eso es algo que quiere cualquier persona a quien le gusta la política.
Lo que no creo es que sea bueno para Rusia que siga teniendo mucha influencia. La bromita sobre la capacidad sexual del Presidente israelí Katzav -a quien se está juzgando por violación y acoso sexual-, la reciente crisis de Georgia, la guerra de Chechenia y el acoso a periodistas -Anna Politovskaya hasta que la mataron- y a personas de la oposición desde luego no habla bien de esta intención del Presidente ruso.
In Italian. Hurricane_53.
In French: I like your style.