Russian press disturbed by Putin's 2012 return
Vladimir Putin's decision to return to the Kremlin and switch jobs with his protege Dmitry Medvedev has exposed the authorities' hostility to reform and will make Russia more vulnerable, newspapers said Monday.
The liberal press and even usually pro-Kremlin voices were unimpressed with the weekend announcement at the congress of ruling United Russia party that Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev will switch roles next year, saying it will make Russia ever more vulnerable.
"A real transition of power is impossible while keeping the status quo," the Vedomosti daily said in an editorial.
"While they insure against some risks seen only by them, the president and prime minister create new ones," said the state-owned Moskovskiye Novosti.
"By keeping the semblance of a tandem... they weaken the country's immunity to, for instance, external economic risks," it said.
"One can only expect any reforms only in the event of serious economic crises," said the online newspaper Gazeta.Ru.
"The swamp that is life in Russia will be conserved for another six years," it said, warning of continued infrastructural wear, degradation of education, and isolation of Russia in the world.
Predictably, the mass-circulation dailies that form the bulk of Russia's newspaper diet did not trouble their readers with concerns over the future and hailed the announcement.
"The congress of United Russia took important decisions for the country," wrote Komsomolskaya Pravda over a picture of the ruling duo waving at their adoring crowds.
"This how we will be victorious!" screamed the tabloid Tvoi Den. "The job swap by the ruling tandem has determined the future of our country."
But the most liberal papers said the prospect of Putin once again taking the top post in the country after the elections next March shatters all hope that change is possible without social upheavals.
"Putin made the biggest mistake of his life on September 24 -- he robbed the country of a peaceful transition of power, and himself -- of a decent place in history," the opposition New Times magazine said, comparing the prime minister to various dictatorial leaders of Latin America.
"The Russian human hope of positive changes within the framework of the current system has died," said analyst Stanislav Belkovsky in a Moskovsky Komsomolets daily editorial titled "Death Continues".
"The choice between Medvedev and Putin that the liberal public tried to impose on us over 40 months was false," he said, adding that people will now stop wasting time and put their hopes into bringing about change "outside the system".
© 2011 AFP