Mark Galeotti, The Spectator: The hunt is on for Putin’s successor
Putin does like to spring a surprise. The first hour or so of his state of the nation address yesterday was the usual fare: Russia standing tall again, measures to address poverty, encouraging larger families. So far, so cut and paste. Then suddenly he dropped a series of constitutional bombshells: tougher presidential term limits, more powers for both parliament and the prime minister. Within three hours, prime minister Dmitry Medvedev was clearing his desk, and we had a sense of the shape of Russia after Putin’s presidency.
Which is not, by any means, Russia after Putin. His current term ends in 2024, and although no one doubted he could stay on if he wanted, regardless of term limits, the real question was whether he truly wanted to. In recent years, even as his international stature as geopolitical bad boy has grown, he has seemed increasingly detached from the humdrum challenges at home: economic diversification, demographic decline, pension reform and even the politics of refuse disposal.
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WNU Editor: First things first. The firing/demotion of former Prime Minister Medvedev means that he will not be Putin’s successor. And the reason why is simple. President Putin also reads polls, and he noticed that Medvedev is probably the most despised politician in Russia. Allegations and multiple videos of Medvedev’s lavish properties on social media have given him the image of being the most corrupt person in Russia, and it is an image that is now stuck with him. Bottom line. I far as Putin is concerned, Medvedev will not win the next Presidential election. After Medvedev there is no one else that Putin can really trust, hence this search for an alternative path to protect his position and status. The problem that I see is that there is really no clear path on what needs to be done, and there is certainly no appetite among the Russian public for this type of change. And as for a successor. The ones who are well positioned to win the next Russian Presidential election have an agenda that is completely opposite from Putin’s. A prospect that is totally unacceptable to Putin.