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Russian elites work on fallback solutions

February 19, 2013, 10:30 UTC+3

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu may be a crisis manager representing law enforcement authorities

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MOSCOW, February 19 (Itar-Tass World Service) - The Russian elites believe that President Putin will again take the office in 2018, and all the elites, including Putin himself, are working on fallback solutions, the Vedomosti writes. Evgeny Minchenko and Kirill Petrov of the Minchenko Consulting Holding explain in their report that the elite groups have entered a competition for the position of a premier, as should there be any accident with Putin, he is to be replaced automatically with the prime minister.

The successors’ race of 2006-2007 turned out to be an effective technology to manage the elites, the authors continue, and now it has begun, while as yet it features only Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his deputy Dmitry Rogozin. However, other participants are to follow, and Putin will be encouraging them.

The starting point for the competition for the post of prime minister was the statement from Medvedev that the Kremlin is a river to step into twice: a federal official claimed the statement caused a wide response among the elites. Most affected are likely to be not the candidates, but rather their teams, the official said. Discussions of a possible change of the Cabinet are growing, and there may be information attacks on Medvedev’s certain ministers, a source close to the presidential administration says.

Several factors are against Medvedev, the report says: the unhappy bureaucracy, the lower support from the people, an unclear political position of the prime minister.

Medvedev’s lost resources flow to Moscow’s Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. Sobyanin’s advantages are good relations with the fuel and energy companies and the oligarchs, the biggest after the federal one bureaucratic staff and a mighty financial base, a pool of the Urals governors, who are close to him. A possible strategy of Sobyanin’s team: early (in 2013 or 2014) mayoral election in Moscow, victory – and demonstration of the electoral potential, and after that moving to the position of the prime minister. Kudrin has opposed the elites by the position of a ‘covetous knight,’ but he may run the Cabinet, should an anti-crisis policy be requested.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu may be a crisis manager representing law enforcement authorities. His drawbacks – historic connections with the family of Boris Yeltsin, and his Buddhist origin, which is unlikely to be supported by the Orthodox population. In this niche, his competitor may be Rogozin, who is less influential, but who has successful experience of public politics.

The Defence Ministry’s representatives and those of Rogozin refused to give any comments. A former official of the Defence Ministry says both Shoigu and Rogozin are bright public figures, and their appointments were only recent, thus, most probably is the reason they attract interest of political analysts, but knowing Putin’s political practice it seems too early to bet now. Sobyanin’s representatives would not comment either, but recently the mayor said he was against an early election. Kudrin’s representative did not comment on the report either.

It is symbolic enough that the only representative of the liberal team is Kudrin, a member of Kudrin’s Committee of Civil Initiatives Igor Yurgens said: there are no fatal candidates; everybody is experienced, though in the democratic society the very discussion about a successor sounds impolitely, of course.

Speaking about a successor now, in 2013, that Putin gives a clear message that he may participate in the election of 2018, is too early, a political expert Dmitry Orlov of United Russia says: correct, the current influence Medvedev has cannot be compared with his influence while the president or even over the first months of his premiership; he is not the main candidate any longer, nor is he an average one. Orlov says Kudrin’s chances are low, and Rogozin may not be considered to be an active player.

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