The Russians are coming!

  

To say that the president does not possess the whole power of the nation would be a banality. Yet, in Russia we have found it difficult to draw a line between the nation and the president.

Dmitry Medvedev has sent a bill to the parliament to broaden the list of circumstances when Russian troops can be used outside the national borders. The law, as it stands today, limits the grounds for the extraterritorial actions of the Russian army to three tasks: defence against external aggression, protection of the territorial unity, and the execution of the Russia’s international obligations.

If the bill becomes law the army would be used to protect military units and Russian citizens abroad, defending another country, and securing the safety of maritime navigation. In short, troops could be sent anywhere and anytime.

The point of the bill, however, is not where or when but who and how.

According to the article 102 of the Russian Constitution a decision about the use of the armed forces outside the Russian territory is taken by the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, the Council of the Federation.

This, it appeared, can be a matter of a debate. On 11 August 2008, two days after Russian troops entered Georgia, the head of the Council of the Federation Sergey Mironov stated that the Council’s approval was not needed as this was ‘the enlargement of