If I look only at the facts, it seems that:
- Putin is transferring some power from the President to others (i.e. he's giving up power)
- Putin has said Russia should not have Soviet-style leaders-for-life
- Putin is limiting presidents to two terms, thereby ruling himself out of another term as President
This seems consistent with the idea that Putin doesn't want to be dictator-for-life and is setting up a new system where power is more devolved.
However the media has generally seen Putin as having nefarious intentions. For example:
Kremlin critics have been unanimous in their hostility to the reform -- with opposition leader Alexei Navalny saying Putin wants to make himself "leader for life" ...
The reforms will transfer some authority to parliament, including the power to choose the prime minister, and strengthen the role of an advisory body called the State Council, potentially headed by Putin.
One frequent speculation is that Putin, 67, could use that position to continue to shape domestic and foreign policy after his fourth Kremlin term expires in 2024.
But much remains unclear about how the new system would work and why Putin is proposing it now, making it more difficult for opponents of the plan.
All this seems to assume that Putin has some kind of hidden evil intention in proposing these reforms:
- I don't see how the reforms leads to Putin making himself leader for life, in fact they appear to be doing the exact opposite.
- Sure Putin could potentially head the State Council, but he could also potentially appoint someone else, retire, be abducted by aliens ...
- It's not clear to me why it matters "why Putin is proposing it now". Presumably if the constitutional reform is a bad idea, it would be a bad idea independently of why or when Putin is proposing it.
The last paragraph in the quote in particular makes it seem like opponents are opposing because it is Putin proposing it (i.e. if it had been, say, Alexei Navalny proposing the reforms, they would support it), which doesn't make sense to me.
Another example: Putin's plans are all about keeping his hands on levers of power. If this is true he's choosing an awfully roundabout way to do it - why not take the much more straightforward way and abolish the 2-term limit for Russian presidents, increase the number of years a president is elected for from 6 to 8 years, etc?
Is there some (preferably objective) reason to think Putin must have a hidden agenda and not take his proposed reforms at face value?