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Putin and Medvedev to exchange positions

September 26, 2011, 13:28 UTC+3

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he would run for presidency next March, while President Dmitry Medvedev will lead the party to the Duma elections

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Last weekend the ruling United Russia party held a congress that gave the key to Russia’s main political intrigue. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he would run for presidency next March, while President Dmitry Medvedev will lead the party to the Duma elections and if the party wins – nobody has doubts in this – will head a new government.

There is only one secret in what is going on now, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily quoted Gleb Pavlovsky, who heads the Foundation for Effective Politics, as saying. “This is a secret of unexpected backward turn by Medvedev who until this summer made constant public and non-public statements expressing his intention to be a presidential candidate. Something has happened during this month. What had happened should be a very strong factor and no talk can explain this,” he said.

Pavlovsky admits that some pressure was exerted on Medvedev. “It is unknown what kind of pressure this is. But the fact itself that any pressure can be put on the president is destructive for the authority of the institution of presidency. Possibly, he was intimidated by the risk of deepening the country’s social and political instability,” the expert said.

“The upcoming elections will be difficult. It will be really not an easy task to get more than 50 percent of votes,” a source in the ruling party told the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper. “Vladimir Vladimirovich simply did not want to spoil his karma, as until this time the elections have always been a referendum of confidence in him - Putin personally. It’s evident that the party would be unable to repeat the 2007 election results, even if Putin again leads the party to the elections. Therefore, at the congress the prime minister fixed up a good-looking combination and as a result he rose above a skirmish. The combination’s plot looks like this – if United Russia gets much less at the elections than four years ago, Putin will have no direct relation to the party’s failure, since Medvedev would lead it to the elections.

The scenario was predictable, but suitable for practically nobody, the RBK daily wrote. According to multiple sources, Medvedev himself evidently hoped to create his own liberal political force. Vladimir Putin should have remained the leader of United Russia.Thus there would be an illusion of competitiveness in the party process (something like Russian Whigs and Tories), while the State Duma should have secured a majority of votes in support of decisions taken by the tandem. Ideally, by the end of 2011 the country should have had two leaders with two quite comparable political forces.

However, last summer during a historic angling event in Astrakhan the tandem reached an agreement on a scenario that was played out at the party’s congress on weekend. Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s demarche only played into the hands of those who oppose the emergence of a second influential political force on the Right Cause’s basis. A United Party member told the daily that the party’s leadership was informed about the exchange of positions a week ago. Thus, Medvedev will have nothing to do, but to lead United Russia.

Medvedev’s government can be only sympathized, the daily wrote. Even if he manages to create a strong team, it has to fulfill most unpopular measures that he as president did not dare to translate into reality. The one who will work in a new government will have to cope with accumulation of taxes and to begin increasing the pension age.

Even the Kremlin’s top adviser, Arkady Dvorkovich commented in Twitter the congress of United Russia with just one phrase “there is nothing to be glad.” He once again demonstrated that it was possible to reconcile the economic courses of President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin to a certain degree, while in the Medvedev government this would be practically impossible to do, the Kommersant business daily reported.

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