Editorial: age-related changes
5.09.12 16:59 By Gazeta.ru editorial
Vladimir Putin has recently introduced a bill into the Duma that will raise the age limit of senior public servants from 65 to 70 years old.
"In order to preserve the civil service of highly qualified senior staff, the bill allows federal civil servants, who work as 'heads,' referring to a top group of posts, to extend their period of the civil service, if signed off by the President of the Russian Federation, to the age of 70 years old," explains a note to the bill amending the law "On Civil Service."
The Kremlin's press office explained that the new bill will be a logical continuation of the order which has already been implemented for judges, prosecution workers, and Investigative Committee workers. They all can work until 70 years of age. Today, state civil workers can be at their posts until they are 60, which can be prolonged to 65 if the employer decides to do so.
When Vladimir Putin was first elected as Russia's president, he was the youngest ruler, along with Vladimir Lenin, since the post-Empire period. Putin, just like Lenin, was almost 48 years old. At that time the Russian leader was seen as a young and dynamic ruler, especially after the old and sick Boris Yeltsin. Now Putin, though in a good physical condition, is 60 years old. By the end of Putin's third term of presidency he will be 66.
Against this background the intention to prolog the maximum age for senior officials seems like an attempt to create a new Kremlin gerontocracy just like it was in the era of Brezhnev and his Politburo, as well as the Soviet Union's Communist party.
Under Brezhnev, and before Gorbachev came to power, only old and sick people were put in key positions in the state, which became the object of many jokes and sarcasm. People used to joke that a day in the Kremlin begins with resuscitation, and because of the constant deaths, the favorite sport of elderly members of the Politburo's elite was racing on artillery carriages
The current Russian elite, with some of its key figures invariably accompanying Putin for 12 years, and have simply been transplanted from one chair to another, are starting to get older. It seems that Putin has taken a course towards a lifelong rule.
As a result, the harmless bill has obtained a whole new meaning. It creates additional juridical reasons fort the legitimising of a closed caste of unchangeable bureaucrats.
One can understand the lifelong status for supreme court judges in the USA, but judges there are independent from executive power.
Although there is no real practice of limiting age for presidents, it is obvious that if a state leader is older than 75, as a rule he is either a satrap like the 88-year-old ruler of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, or is a figure who, according to the Constitution does not have real power, like the 87-year-old president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano.
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