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2011年9月29日 (木)

ロシア次期政権 不安も伴うプーチン氏再登板

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 29, 2011)
Putin's expected return to Kremlin worrisome
ロシア次期政権 不安も伴うプーチン氏再登板(9月28日付・読売社説)

At a recent congress of the ruling United Russia party, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed his intention to run in the presidential election to be held next March.

Putin served as president for two terms spanning eight years until 2008. If he regains the presidency, he likely will hold the reigns of power for an exceptionally long time.

Incumbent President Dmitry Medvedev will reportedly become prime minister.

This transfer of power, widely believed to be based on an agreement the two made earlier, is hard to understand.

Medvedev has called for the need to establish judicial independence and promote economic reforms, including the development of cutting-edge industries.

However, he has not achieved these goals.

His expected exit from office likely will disappoint reform-minded intellectuals who had hoped he would stay on as president.


Resurgence of tight rule?

There are concerns over the new administration's style of governance.

While Putin was president, he strengthened law and order and achieved economic growth, successfully ending the chaos inherited from the previous administration of President Boris Yeltsin, under whom Russia's gross domestic product declined continuously.

This is a factor behind Putin's relatively high popularity among Russian people.

On the other side of the coin, Putin put principal industries under state control and placed his right-hand men as executives at key corporations.

He had no qualms about shutting down businesses that did not operate as he wished by resorting to extralegal means.

Media organizations were strictly controlled, and a reporter who wrote antigovernment articles was shot dead.

Rule over minority ethnic groups in the North Caucasus region was tightened.

If Putin merely adheres to similar governance methods after returning to office, he will not be able to resolve the knotty issues facing Russian society.

As for the crucial issue of the economy, Russia has not broken free from its reliance on natural gas and other resources.

The sudden dismissal recently of the country's reformist deputy prime minister, who had called for fiscal discipline, has created uncertainty about the future.

An increasing number of Russian people are reportedly thinking about getting out of the country.

The new administration will get bogged down sooner or later if it fails to promote democratization and economic structural reform.


Territorial issue still pending

Japan, for its part, will be watching closely to see whether Putin's return to the Kremlin will help find a resolution to the territorial dispute with Russia.

Last November, Medvedev visited Kunashiri, one of four disputed islands off Hokkaido, becoming the first Russian or Soviet head to do so.

His visit, timed to take advantage of the disarray embroiling the Democratic Party of Japan-led government, poured cold water on Japan's demands that the four northern territories be returned.

Putin has gone no further than admitting the validity of the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration of 1956, which pledged "the return of Habomai and Shikotan islands to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty."

But some observers point out that Putin could begin to attach greater weight to Russia's ties with Tokyo as a check against China's rise.

Japan must develop strategic diplomacy vis-a-vis Moscow to advance negotiations on the territorial dispute.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 28, 2011)
(2011年9月28日01時31分  読売新聞)


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