Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stunning plan, announced Wednesday, to institute widespread constitutional reforms, will rely in part on two major Russian art-world figures.
Among those named to a 75-member working group tasked with drafting constitutional amendments are two of the country’s leading museum officials: Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and Zelfira Tregulova, the director of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
Political analysts say the plan to rewrite the constitution, which Putin revealed during his annual state-of-the-nation address, is his attempt to retain power past the end of his term in 2024.
Putin previously counted the heads of the two state museums among his “2018 presidential campaign confidants,” according to the Art Newspaper. The working group met today outside Moscow at Novo-Ogaryovo, the Russian presidential estate.
Piotrovsky has led the Hermitage for close to 30 years, taking over from his father, Boris Borisovich Piotrovsky, who ran the museum from 1964 to 1990. The government appointed Tregulova to her post in 2015.
As of press time, neither institution answered inquiries regarding the directors’ involvement with the constitutional amendment process.
When Piotrovsky turned 75 last month, Putin issued an official press release wishing the museum director a happy birthday and praising his “significant personal contribution to the development of the famous museum and the preservation of our rich historical, cultural, and spiritual heritage.”
Putin also presented Piotrovsky, whose current contract at the Hermitage runs through 2022, with the Order of Friendship in 2016.
The constitutional-amendment committee includes politicians, scientists, and other public figures, such as two-time Olympic pole-vaulting champion Yelena Isinbayeva, pianist Denis Matsuev, and Vladimir Solovyov, head of the Russian Union of Journalists.
Putin was first elected president in 2000, and served two four-year terms. He then served as Prime Minister under Dmitry Medvedev from 2008 to 2012, and has since been re-elected to two additional six-year terms.
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