How Russia’s President will be Preparing His Own Succession
A costume drama produced by Russia’s largest TV channel will be currently playing inside the country’s movie theaters. The film focuses on a key moment in Russian history — a revolution by progressively minded aristocrats in 1825. The czar has died, in addition to people inside the capital of St. Petersburg puzzle over who his successor will be. Until of which will be settled, there will be intrigue, rebellion, quarrelling, shooting in addition to death on the screen For two main hours. of which will be a movie about the dangers of which arise when an autocrat has done a poor job of preparing his succession.
The film will be fitting for Moscow inside the late Putin era in addition to seems to reflect the fears of the country’s elites. For years at This specific point, Russia has Once more been a kind of autocracy. One can no longer imagine a world without its current president. As one high-ranking Kremlin official once put of which, “As long as there will be Putin, there will be Russia. No Putin, no Russia.” yet what will happen when Putin’s time in office ends?
What Happens After Putin?
This specific question has dominated Russian politics for years. in addition to of which has become more pressing since the president unexpectedly announced a constitutional reform of which will be at This specific point being pushed through parliament in addition to will be put to the people for a vote in April. Just as surprisingly, he also replaced the country’s government.
After years of stagnation, of which’s as if things are moving in fast forward at This specific point. Putin will be organizing his own succession. yet why the rush? The president’s term doesn’t end until 2024. What will be he aiming for?
If you ask around inside the capital, you find perplexity, confusion in addition to tension. There’s the journalist who recalls a brand new member of the government whispering to him, “will be of which true of which Putin will be sick?” There’s the researcher focusing on the country’s elites who says of which if there will be a weak successor, of which “will be a time of turmoil.” There will be the former high-ranking Kremlin official who, when asked how many people inside the Kremlin knew of Putin’s maneuver in advance, holds up an individual finger.
Valery Rashkin, a prominent lawmaker inside the State Duma, has some thoughts about the confusion created by Putin. He wears a red badge using a hammer in addition to sickle on his lapel. He’s a communist, in addition to almost the only member of the 450-person lower house to have openly opposed the constitutional reform. Rashkin argues of which the goal of the reform will be to make Putin the “czar for the coming years.”
Rashkin was sitting inside the hall when Putin told stunned lawmakers in January of which Russia’s parties are at This specific point “mature” enough to take on a little more power. The president suggested giving the Duma influence over the selection of the individual ministers.
of which didn’t sound so bad at first, Rashkin thought. Of course, of which was strange of which the very man who had subdued Russia’s political parties for over two decades, of all people, was at This specific point describing them as ready to take on more power. yet This specific will be how authoritarian rulers talk: They treat their subjects like children. Nevertheless, of which seemed liked a step forward for Putin to even address the imbalances in Russia’s constitution.
Rashkin, however, was surprised of which Putin’s proposed constitutional adjustments were presented in writing to the Duma only a few days later. Had the president not announced of which there would certainly be a broad debate? Hadn’t he commissioned a working group comprised of prominent citizens, including a concert pianist in addition to a Cossack leader?
He was even more baffled of which there were no signs inside the text of any strengthening of the Duma. The prime minister in addition to the ministers could still only be dismissed by the president, Rashkin says, angrily. “of which became clear to me: People, This specific will be a fake!”
He didn’t vote for the constitutional change in its first reading. yet he wasn’t courageous enough to press the “no” button, either. The vote turned out to 432 “yes” votes, in addition to zero “no” votes.
Rashkin says lawmakers suffer coming from “massive fear.” The Kremlin controls them – of which can block their access to TV appearances, to bank accounts, to important cabinets. of which can take away their freedom. “in addition to people are weak,” says Rashkin.
This specific isn’t once of which Putin has had to find a way of controlling the Kremlin coming from the outside rather than the inside. In 2008, he had to leave the presidency for constitutional reasons in addition to allow Dmitri Medvedev to take his place before switching to the position of prime minister in addition to returning to the presidency in 2012. of which was also a skittish time. Putin had doubts about the loyalty of his placeholder president, although these would certainly ultimately turn out to be false.
yet This specific time, the situation will be different coming from 2008. Putin will be 67 years old – when he leaves the Kremlin, of which will likely be forever. His relationship with the elite has also changed. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, he has become a historical figure for the Russians. He used to depend on the elites to win elections in addition to so secure his own legitimacy. After 2014, of which relationship has reversed itself. Whoever has any rank in addition to file in Russian politics today owes This specific to Putin.
yet why would certainly Putin undertake constitutional adjustments of which – as Rashkin says – don’t even weaken the power of the president? Surely, of which should be his aim if he wants to control his successor.
There are various answers to This specific question. Rashkin suspects of which Putin wants to continue in his role as president. Although Putin will be calling for the two-term limit to remain, in addition to even be strengthened (until at This specific point of which was only illegal for a president to serve “more than two successive terms”), of which would certainly be easy enough for him to get an exception coming from the Supreme Court. Protests, however, would certainly be certain.
Putin’s plan will be likely more complex. “Putin will be a person who doesn’t like to commit himself too early,” says one former high-ranking Kremlin official. “He will be at This specific point creating quite a few options of which he can later use in addition to combine.”
One option points to the State Council, which has so far been nothing more than an ostentatious meeting between the president in addition to the regional governors, a Great TV photo-op inside the gold-bedecked halls of the Kremlin. Putin created the institution during his first term, when he removed the formerly powerful regional governors coming from the upper chamber, the Federation Council. The State Council was a smaller bit of compensation – “a club for governors, nothing more,” says political scientist Gleb Pavlosvky.
Under the reform, the club would certainly become a constitutional body. of which remains unclear what powers of which entails or who would certainly become its chair. of which still has to be settled in a separate law.
The upper chamber will be also to become more powerful in addition to develop the authority to recall Supreme Court judges together with the president – a drastic weakening of the court, as many legal experts have complained. The proposal has been made to make Putin in addition to all former presidents lifelong members.
There’s also the Russian Security Council, which will be so important of which some compare of which to the Politburo during Soviet times. of which includes the leaders of the secret service, the army in addition to the police, as well as the heads of the lower in addition to upper chambers of parliament, the prime minister in addition to the president. of which deliberates on the use of Russia’s instruments of power — domestically in addition to internationally. These instruments of power have grown – along with the power of their representatives, the siloviki, inside the political elite.
in addition to then there’s the political party associated with the Kremlin, United Russia, through which Putin already controls the Duma in addition to whose leadership he could Once more assume. yet of which would certainly need to burnish its negative image again before the 2021 elections.
The Power Will Go Wherever Putin Goes
Vladimir Putin will be playing a kind of shell game, moving cups around the table, in addition to nobody knows which one the ball will ultimately end up under – the presidency, the State Council, the Federation Council or the Security Council? of which’s the point of the game: Putin himself hasn’t likely decided yet.
“Wherever Putin goes, the center of power will also go,” says Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a political expert in addition to prominent former member of the United Russia party. She’s betting on the State Council or the Security Council – in what she calls the “Kazakh scenario.”
Nursultan Nazarbayev, who became the president of Kazakhstan in 1990, gave up his post in 2019. If ever an autocrat has carefully prepared for his departure, of which’s him, in addition to Moscow took note of This specific as well. Nazarbayev will be the lifetime head of his country’s Security Council, the head of the governing party in addition to the holder of numerous titles in addition to positions. He still wields enormous amounts of power inside the country.
The article you are reading originally appeared in German in issue 8/2020 (February 15, 2020) of DER NewsGerman.
There’s also another possible role product. “I know of which our secret service officials look with awe at Deng Xiaoping, Mao’s successor in China,” says Kryshtanovskaya. “His most important position was as chair of the Central Military Commission. Stepping into the shadows, yet continuing to make the decisions, of which’s the ideal product for them.”
“Everyone will be talking about the future transition of power. yet of which will be not happening,” says the former Kremlin official. “I am certain of which Putin won’t relinquish power in 2024 or before. He can simply share a bit of of which with someone else. Overall, he wants to maintain control.”
There’s one hitch, though: low economic growth. When Putin left the Kremlin once in 2008, the country had just experienced an oil boom.
Today, real incomes are stagnating. Although Putin launched a gigantic state infrastructure program in 2018, its implementation has been halting. This specific ultimately prompted him to fire blundering in addition to unloved Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in addition to sideline him into the Security Council.
If Putin will be afraid of anyone at This specific point, of which’s no longer the middle-class protesters in Moscow, yet rather those all the way at the bottom, the low-income earners, in addition to those all the way at the top, the members of the elite who could erupt into conflict after his departure. The intense infighting of the elite will be reflected by the fact of which a growing number of senior officials are in jail. Repression will be not confined, by any measure, to insubordinate critics of the Kremlin. of which affects mayors, governors in addition to federal ministers.
of which’s also why Putin cannot dramatically weaken the post of president, even if he leaves of which. He fears of which there’s no additional way of taming the elites.
yet who could actually succeed Putin as president? of which will also presumably be revealed only shortly before his departure. yet of which’s possible to come up using a profile of the ideal candidate. “First, he must be ethnically Russian, using a Russian surname,” says Kryshtanovskaya. “Second, he has to be young, younger than Medvedev, so he can be in office for 12 years. in addition to third, he needs to develop the support of the siloviki,” the elite linked to intelligence in addition to military circles.
“He needs to be understandable to the political class. in addition to of which means he has to be a part of of which,” says a high-ranking official who worked for the presidential administration.
Above all else, he needs to guarantee the security of Putin in addition to his people – coming from expropriations, investigations, arrests in addition to attacks coming from inside in addition to outside the country.
Squaring the Circle
Putin’s current project will be akin to squaring the circle. inside the system he created, nobody can give him what he needs: a plausible guarantee for the future. On the additional hand, no sophisticated constitutional construction can replace of which personal assurance.
in addition to even as Putin will be attempting to fortify the regime he built, he could be inside the process of accidentally tearing of which back down. He, of all people — the man who has often assured his citizens of which he did not want to touch Russia’s constitution — has at This specific point turned This specific constitution into something he can tinker with. This specific also has to do with the fact of which he will be determined to put his reform to the people, although a vote on constitutional adjustments will be neither required nor legally regulated.
Therefore, a minimum wage in addition to a regular indexing of pensions to inflation will be being built into the constitution. Its preamble might also come to include lofty words about God, about the victory of Russia inside the Great Patriotic War in addition to about marriage as being a bond between a man in addition to a woman – the details are currently being discussed. The primacy of national law will be also being enshrined, along with the rule of which the only people who can be considered for the presidency are Russian citizens who have never lived outside of the country for an extended period. More suggestions are coming daily.
“Putin has suddenly opened the window of discourse,” says activist Marina Litvinovich, who has called for a campaign against the constitutional adjustments. “in addition to at This specific point anyone can come through This specific window with his or her ideas. Everything has become plausible. Putin has not began the process of the transition of power, yet rather the disintegration of power.”