Volodya Bukovsky for President?

Famous Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky just received a Russian passport in order to return to the country to discuss his potential candidacy for the 2008 presidential elections. But within hours, Russia’s Central Election Committee stated that Bukovsky would not be eligible to run. The Committee gave two reasons: that Bukovsky has dual citizenship with the UK and that he hasn’t lived for ten years in Russia. This premature statement cannot be considered anything other than a Kremlin provocation. The Election Committee, no matter how slavishly obedient to Putin it may be, has no place to comment on constitutional issues. We again find the Kremlin’s agents entirely unfamiliar with the Russian constitution they are supposed to uphold. The section on presidential elections says nothing about dual citizenship and Bukovsky obviously lived in the Russian federation for many years.

Putin’s Kremlin clearly has no desire to face off with Bukovsky, a man who can speak with profound authority on the methods and manipulations of a KGB dictatorship. Bukovsky will be coming to Russia in the fall to talk with opposition leaders Garry Kasparov and Grigory Yavlinsky, among others. Then we will no doubt hear more elaborate justifications from the Kremlin for why Bukovsky should not be allowed to run, or perhaps not to speak at all. Perhaps the KGB can line up a few dozen witnesses to claim Bukovsky isn’t over the presidential candidate age minimum of 35.