Russian party proposes replacing Putin’s title of ‘president’ with an old Russian word for ruler


Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan June 29, 2022Sputnik/Dmitry Azarov/Pool via Reuters

  • Putin’s title should be “ruler,” not “president,” a pro-Kremlin Russian party has argued.

  • State media reported Sunday that Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party proposed the archaic “pravitel.”

  • It’s not the first time Russian politicians have flirted with abandoning “president.”

A Pro-Kremlin Russian political party called for Vladimir Putin’s title to change from “president” to an archaic term meaning “ruler,” state media reported on Sunday.

Russia’s far-right Liberal Democrat Party (LDPR) made the proposal to call Russia’s leader “pravitel” (правитель), the state-owned press service RIA Novosti reported.

The LDPR is notionally an opposition party in Russia. However, it and other non-ruling parties generally support the agenda of Putin and his allies.

The LDPR argued that “president” is a relatively new term that only came into use in Russia with the fall of the Soviet Union, per RIA. Soviet leaders were generally called chairman or general secretary.

The word “president” “has always embarrassed us,” RIA reported the party as saying, adding that globally the term only came into widespread use when George Washington became the first president of the US in 1789.

The party said the term never took root in Russia, they said it could easily be replaced by “pravitel” or “gulava guosodarstva,” which literally means “head of state.”

“Both are more understandable to the Russian ear,” the party wrote.

“Pravitel” has an old-fashioned feel, but is not attached to a particular style of government and is distinct from titles like tsar used by Russia’s old royal family. A related term, pravitelstvo, is a modern word for government.

The first party made the proposal in 2020, when Russia made constitutional amendments, according to state-owned press agency TASS.

The LDPR has no power to implement a title change for Putin. The Kremlin, which could make the change, responded in neutral terms.

“It is a new idea. There is no position on this matter,” said Putin’s top spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Sunday, according to TASS.

Putin has responded with disinterest in more explicitly imperial suggestions from the LDPR in the past.

Soon after he launched his assault on Crimea in 2014, LDPR’s flamboyant then-leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky called for Russia to describe itself as an “empire” and for its president to be referred to as “supreme leader,” as the Associated Press (AP) reported at the time.

Putin later said that these were Zhirinovsky’s views and not those of the government, the AP reported. He praised Zhirinovsky’s “patriotic” stances when the MP died in April this year, Reuters reported.

In June this year, Putin compared himself to Tsar Peter the GreatRussia’s first emperor, in justifying his invasion of Ukraine.

He suggested that his actions, like those of the former emperor, were returning ancestral Russian lands to the state — a notion fiercely opposed by Ukraine and rejected by Western allies, the UN, and NATO.

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