Vladimir Putin is not in a good spot right now, given the recent tragedy in Chechnya. And his recent candor about Russia's lack of preparedness re: terrorism was moving and troubling and fascinating all at once. But now he's gone and, to quote C-3PO, 'done something rather rash':
Under Mr. Putin's proposals, which he said required only legislative approval and not constitutional amendments, the governors or leaders of the country's 89 regions would no longer be elected by popular vote but rather by local legislatures - and only after the president's nomination. Seats in the lower house of the federal Parliament, or Duma, would be elected entirely on national party slates, eliminating district races across the country that now decide half of Parliament's composition. In elections last December, those races accounted for all of the independents and liberals now serving in the Duma.
After the school siege in Beslan, the downing of two airliners and other terrorist attacks that have shaken the country, Mr. Putin argued once again that Russia was ill-prepared to fight terrorism and said that the country needed a more unified political system. His proposals on Monday, however, made it clear that for him, unity meant a consolidation of power in the executive branch.
GRAND MOFF TARKIN: The Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I've just received word that the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Republic have been swept away.
COMMANDER TAGGE: That's impossible! How will the Emperor maintain control without the bureaucracy?
TARKIN: The regional governors now have direct control over territories. Fear will keep the local systems in line.
Check out the great quote from Bush about getting a 'sense of [Putin's] soul.' The end of history, indeed.