Putin Spokesman Says Presidential Candidate is “No Brezhnev”

Posted October 5th, 2011 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has discounted comparisons made between Mr. Putin and former Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev.

Brezhnev led the Soviet Union from 1964 until his death in 1982, but was blamed for overseeing the start of an economic decline that led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet empire.

Peskov says Putin is “no Brezhnev,” and that it may be true that Brezhnev overstayed his welcome with the Russian people as the country fell into political and economic stagnation before his death in 1982. But the spokesman added that Brezhnev was not a “minus” but a “huge plus” for the country's history. He credited Brezhnev's early years with laying the foundation for strong economic development and agriculture.

However, he played down comparisons between Brezhnev and Mr. Putin, who was Russia's president from 2000 to 2008. He took over as Prime Minister after leaving the presidency due to a term limit. But with presidential terms now increased to six years, Mr. Putin, who is expected to reclaim the office in 2012, and could possibly be re-elected in 2018, could hold the office a total of 24 years.

That would make him the nation's longest serving leader since Josef Stalin, and raises concerns among some that the country could again slip into a period of stagnation. In addition, others worry that Mr. Putin will roll back some of the post-Soviet freedoms boosted during president Dmitry Medvedev's time in office, including modernizing the economy, fighting corruption and liberalizing political freedom.