Sources close to the negotiations on unification of Russia and Belarus still give Vladimir Putin a chance of anotherpresidentialterm.
Russian newspaper "Vedomosti" has obtained copies of four draft constitutions of the putative Union State, three of which include the popularly elected posts of president and vice president.
According to one of the drafts, the supreme body of the new state will be a State Council, chaired alternately by presidents of the two countries for two years, with the caveat "unless the subjects have reached a different agreement." Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov says that this option is considered the most likely, and is being finalized for the next meeting of the Supreme State Council, which will be attended by the two presidents.
The three other drafts have been prepared under the supervision of Pavel Borodin, State Secretary of the Union State project. All of them provide for the posts of president and vice president. Two drafts envisage a seven-year term, and in the third draft the term is not specified. The difference between the first two is that one stipulates that president must be a Russian citizen and the vice president a Belarussian citizen, while the other has no such restrictions.
Borodin spoke of the need to introduce the posts of president and vice president of the Union State early this year. He did not conceal that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to become president and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko vice president.
Dmitry Oreshkin, head of the analytical group Merkator, says, "Mr. Putin`s stepping down is still a problem for the Kremlin team, due to current property redistribution. So the scenario of creating a new state in which Mr. Putin would be elected president for the first term is being promoted via Mr. Borodin."
Members of the working group developing the project declined to comment the outlook for Mr. Borodin`s projects. State Duma deputy Vladimir Pligin said that the group was working only on one document, which did not "envisage the introduction of the presidency." Another source in the working group said that "presidential drafts" were not viable because of legal difficulties, "It is impossible to fit the proposed structure in the existing definitions of a federation, confederation or unitary state." He said that the other drafts had already been given up.