Another interesting question will be whether, as prime minister, Medvedev would have more success in helping to recruit the next generation of Russian leaders. By having Putin handle the Kremlin clan-balancing act, Medvedev might then be in a position to restaff the government with new cadres in a way he was unable to do so as president. An important bellweather would then be the futures of some of the existing deputies—notably Igor Sechin (who was already somewhat demoted in clashes with Medvedev and who was required to resign his chairmanships of key state companies) but also Alexei Kudrin, the finance minister, who has already publicly indicated that he would not serve in a Medvedev cabinet. While speaking sarcastically, Kudrin’s statement that Medvedev, as prime minister, would seek to install “a team of young, effective managers” might be pointing to the role Medvedev would be expected to play.
The 2008 transition, for all intents and purposes, failed. Putin’s return to the presidency seems designed to reboot the system, and to see whether Putin 2.0 can be more successful than the first incarnation in producing a lasting political order for Russia.
Nikolas K. Gvosdev, a contributing editor at The National Interest, is a professor of national-security studies at the U.S. Naval War College. The views expressed are entirely his own.
Image from www.kremlin.ru