Putin says a concentration of power is crucial if Russia is to survive as a nation, justifying the proposal as a reaction to a series of terrorist attacks.
But is Putin using incidents of terrorism as a pretext to finish what his opponents say has long been his plan, to become a dictator even as he claims Russia is building a new democracy?
Click one of the "listen" links to hear more about Russia's war on terror and its implications for Russian democracy.
Scott Peterson, Moscow correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor
Marshall Goldman, Professor Emeritus of Russian Economics, Wellesley College
Mark Kramer, director, Harvard Project on Cold War Studies and senior fellow, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University
Stephen Cohen, Professor of Russian Studies, New York University and author of "Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia".
This program aired on September 13, 2004.