is reassuring news. Vladimir Putin has been out of power for too long; it’s been over seven months
now. Obviously it’s not immediately apparent who might be in mind in rushing through these constitutional amendments allowing presidents to rule for longer terms—as Putin himself has said, “As for who will run for office and when, it’s too early
to talk about that now”.
Whenever Putin’s fans defend his pitbull grip on power they always bring up the fact that Russian democracy is “very young”. It has not had the time to “develop” that western democracies have had. This is all code for “It is not a democracy”. Then again, it’s intriguing that he feels the need to be seen to be playing the democratic game at all, given the level of disillusion in Russia about the word and anything associated with it in the wake of the West’s lack of assistance during Russia’s post-communist chaos; he clearly feels, as have many of Russia’s previous rulers, that the only successful way to govern the place is a healthy dose
of autocracy, and a hefty percentage of his population agrees with him.
I have mentioned it before, but I can’t stress it enough: Putin has his own Facebook page. I recommend friending him in the hope that, should you find yourself abroad anywhere in the Russian sphere of influence and suddenly being accused of spying, or indeed should international relations deteriorate to the point where one day Russian troops actually invade, begging to know why they are so misunderstood
, it will constitute proof that you are a friend of the (by then re-elected) president and deserve amnesty.
A cousin of mine was able to cross the border out of Italy after the second world war broke out by producing a signed photo of Mussolini addressed to her, an example that is worth emulating if you can.  The Russian for “Don’t shoot” is “Nye vstrelyaetye”. You’re welcome.EDIT:
Since last I checked, Putin’s Facebook page seems to have disappeared, although not from Google’s cache. Is Facebook a privilege only of the president? Either way, this significantly reduces the chances of you passing yourself off as one of his friends. Try instead photoshopping a picture of you and him sharing a joke.