Putin's Heir?

Thoughts on Vladimir Putin’s decision to back Dimitri Medvedev to be the next president of the Russian Federation.

Is Dimitri Medvedev going to be the next president of Russia?

More than two years ago, in October 2005, analyst Peter Lavelle laid out the reasons that he and commentator Georgy Bovt felt Medvedev would be Putin's successor as president. Among them:

. . . Medvedev is an experienced administrator and organization man. He, probably more than anyone else, has built the "Putin political order" in terms of cadre policy. Medvedev knows the bureaucracy inside out and backwards; he knows the regional governors, high ministry officials, and, importantly, was instrumental in recasting state-oligarchic relations . . .
. . . A Medvedev presidency would most surely mean the continuation of the political and state-business status quo . . .

Plus one could still reconfigure the power structure to create a stronger prime minister to balance Medvedev (I had initially posited Medvedev as a prime minister to counter a Sergei Ivanov as president, but the same scenario could just as easily occur in reverse). This also leaves open a number of options for Putin himself to insert himself as a Russian version of Lee Kuan Yew as "senior minister" in Singapore-as a party leader of United Russia, as head of a rejuvenated Russia-Belarus' Union State, or as secretary of a Security Council reconfigured along the lines of China's military affairs commission.

We will know more after the United Russia party congress next week, and after Putin meets with the president of Belarus', Aleksandr Lukashenko.


Nikolas K. Gvosdev is editor of The National Interest.