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Vladimir Putin: Kingmaker

The democracy experiment in Russia might well be considered officially dead by those who have not already judged it so. Vladimir Putin first changed Russian law to allow him to run for a third term as president. Recently, he has said that he will not seek a third term (yet) but seeks rather to 'maintain his influence.' Consider the recent report Alexander Voloshin Goes to America from Moscow's Kommersant newspaper.

Nonetheless, Kommersant was able to find out that he presented his point of view on that topic at a closed dinner at the Carnegie Institute. That meeting lasted about three hours. The Kommersant correspondent was able to see through the window of the first-floor hall that there were about 20 people present, including the former ambassadors to Russia and Ukraine Jim Collins and Steven Pifer. Fiona Hill, who was recently named CIA national intelligence officer for Russia, was also at that meeting.

Andy Kuchins, director of the Russian program at the Carnegie Center, asked Voloshin about the presidential successor. According to a Kommersant source, his answer was that “Putin is trying to find a composite model, something between Medvedev and Ivanov. But since there is no one like that at hand, there is a likelihood that one of them will advance to the presidency and the other will become prime minister.”

Another source said that Voloshin also noted that “Putin is looking for a fairly young successor, one who is smart and well acquainted with military questions who will take his advice, giving the current president the opportunity to maintain his influence and maybe return after four years.”

Calling him 'Kingmaker' may be a bit strong. Should he place his choice as president, there can be little doubt that Putin would remain 'king' while the robes would be simply worn by another.

1 Comment

The French have a saying: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." And so it is in Russia---looks like the spectre of the Tsar is appearing in the form of Putin cleverly disguised in the mantle of pseudo democratic reform.