Project "ZZ". The largest changes in government that Vladimir Putin went to became the number one topic in the world media. “Suddenly”, “no one expected” - approximately such characteristics and definitions are given to the political decisions of the head of the Russian state by foreign politicians, experts and observers. Against the background of these decisions, foreign analysts and commentators are actively discussing the topic of Putin’s alleged lifelong “reign”.
Moscow correspondent «The Guardian» Andrew Roth believes that President Putin, having embarked on "a massive reshuffle in the government, made two things clear." First, Russia will probably say goodbye to Putin as president in 2024. And then secondly: when Putin resigns as president, he really "will not resign."
Putin’s presidential term will expire in 2024, recalls the author of the material. And he will not be able to “run for re-election” again, the correspondent ironically. However, "pride and a desire for self-preservation" told Putin to "hold the levers of power in his hands."
“He is the founder of this system, and he wants to maintain control,” says Alexei Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies on this subject.
According to E. Roth, the rapid pace that events gained on January 15, when Putin announced plans to amend the Constitution of the Russian Federation in order to “weaken the next president of Russia,” and when only an hour later his prime minister and government announced plans to step down, shows that "the foundations for the transition are laid years before Putin must leave the Kremlin."
Apparently, Putin will become the prime minister or head of the Council of State. At least that’s what observers say. It is also possible that Putin will play a different role that will exist "regardless of the power of his potential successor."
Most likely, the author further notes, the successor will be Mikhail Mishustin, a tax official whom Putin called the candidate for the post of prime minister.
As for the “group of loyal proxies, including old colleagues, assistants, heads of regions and former bodyguards,” who were formerly considered “potential heirs,” then, choosing Mishustin, Putin “left his options open”, trying to “minimize conflicts among political the elite. "
Putin has good reason to plan a power transition - probably the most difficult and significant of his career. Putin has already become a long-lived Kremlin, second only to Joseph Stalin. Opposition leaders in Russia, for example, A. Navalny, believe that V. Putin is interested in being a lifelong leader. M. Kasyanov, a former prime minister and well-known critic of Putin, said that Putin wants to maintain power "forever."
Andrew Roth sums up: the most pressing issue in Russia is "not whether Putin will remain in power after 2024, but simply how he plans to do this."
Because of the yachts and the vineyard?
Luke Harding in «The Guardian» also mentions Navalny and suggests that D. Medvedev could lose his chair due to the corruption component.
According to the author, Medvedev’s position was shaken by “allegations of corruption”, as well as “awkward moments” that were ridiculed in society. Luke Harding recalls how Medvedev "nodded during President Putin’s speeches - and not once, but several times." Harding, however, suggests that these kinds of “mistakes” could be “forgiven”.
"Fatally" weakened the position of Medvedev, probably, "accusations of personal corruption." This is what made Putin replace his prime minister with tax official Mikhail Mishustin. Harding recalls the 2017 video that thirty-three million people watched on YouTube. In this video, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny “accused Medvedev of secretly owning palaces, yachts and an Italian vineyard,” the author writes.
The decision of Vladimir Putin to accept the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev "was not a surprise," the author comments.
However, corruption “is not unusual among senior Kremlin officials,” says Harding. Medvedev himself calls the claims against him "nonsense." Nevertheless, the allegations were “extremely destructive,” because it was precisely during that same period that “the standard of living of ordinary Russians decreased as a result of Western sanctions imposed after the annexation of Crimea by Putin in 2014,” the journalist writes. “Medvedev’s own speeches condemning the theft did not help,” the author notes. And the personnel reshuffle undertaken by Putin seems to “signal the end of Medvedev’s career” at the forefront of politics.
Medvedev now has a new job: deputy head of the Security Council. This is a “humiliating end” for Medvedev, the third president of Russia after Boris Yeltsin and Putin.
State Department at a loss
The United States is still trying to comprehend what is happening in the Kremlin. Morgan Dinn Ortagus, head of the Department of State’s press service, merely referred to media reports and said that the State Department had “just begun” to monitor these reports.
Ms. Ortagus has not yet made any definite statement to the American press, confining herself to a message in the spirit of "we are watching what is happening."
However, Ortagus recalled, notes "Deutsche Welle"that President Trump has repeatedly announced his desire to improve relations with Moscow.
She hinted at some US hopes - hopes for change. According to her, it all depends on the leaders of Russia: whether they want to "change the hostile behavior that we observed, in particular, as an example of interference in the American election." Concluding her speech, she expressed the hope that the people in Russian power would “take into account our demands for change” in foreign policy.
Ortagus told the TV channel Rtvithat "we [USA] are on the side of the citizens of Russia."
There is another political opinion from the United States.
Medvedev and his cabinet resigned after Putin issued an annual statement on the situation in the country. During his speech, Putin talked about amending the constitution and the desire to give more authority to prime ministers and cabinet members, recalls "Washington Examiner".
The 67-year-old Putin, the newspaper notes, told Medvedev that he was grateful for his service, but also noted that Medvedev and his cabinet did not fully meet expectations.
Z. Halashek, the author of the article, calls the change in power “sudden.”
Senator Ben Sass, the author further notes, responded to this newspointing to Putin’s power over the government.
«History this one is old as time itself: the Russian puppeteer is looking for new puppets, ”said this Republican, a senator from Nebraska.
Prime Minister of 2024
British journalists Chris Pleasant and Tim Stykings in "Daily Mail" went further than the American senator and expressed the following opinion: Putin "appoints himself" and intends to remain in power "forever." To this end, he announces radical "constitutional changes." The government is leaving to "clear the way." Journalists call this action “a dark seizure of power” and claim that V. Putin “has today set himself to rule for life”. It is not for nothing that Medvedev said that his resignation is necessary for Putin to “make all decisions,” and immediately transfer to “the mysterious post of deputy head of the Security Council under the president.”
"Gloomy reforms of Putin," the authors of the article believe, are expected to turn the role of the president "into a ceremonial." So analysts say. This is so that Putin "could become the new plenipotentiary prime minister." And after 2024, this step will allow Putin to "rule for life."
At the same time, Putin said that any constitutional amendments should be put to the popular vote. Russia "will hold the referendum for the first time since 1993," the authors write.
As for Mikhail Mishustin, who is likely to become the next prime minister of Russia, the publication calls him a constant hockey fan and indicates that this person has been the head of the Russian tax department for ten years (since 2010). His candidacy for this post was proposed by the then Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin, the co-authors of the material indicate.
In 2015, Mishustin was named the 54th highest paid civil servant according to Forbes magazine with an income of 183,31 million rubles (2,6 million pounds).
He is a member of the supervisory board of the CSKA hockey club along with the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin and other influential individuals.
In 2010, the business newspaper RBC reported that Mishustin has "good contacts in law enforcement agencies." He was "often seen at hockey matches with senior officials from the FSB and the Ministry of the Interior."
It is believed that this man was chosen by Putin in order to create a “more competent leadership.” He is also regarded as a "neutral figure."
The Russian political world, the authors conclude, is full of speculation on how Putin can remain in power, although he himself "said almost nothing on this issue."
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Without a doubt, for Russian politicians, commentators and experts, Russian political decisions of January 15 came as a complete surprise. Even the vaunted American State Department, along with American intelligence, all blinked. As British journalists joke, Putin "pulled his rabbits out of his hat."
Western analysts observing political changes in Russia agree on one thing: Putin wants to remain in power "forever" and "reign" undividedly.
Who will become president in the year 2024 cannot be predicted in the West.