Staunton, May 6 – Most Moscow commentators believe that Vladimir Putin will run and win re-election in 2018, but some are speculating that he might decide to depart the scene by naming his own successor, thereby defining the future course of the country and protecting himself much as Boris Yeltsin did with his selection of Putin himself in 1999.
Pavel Salin, a researcher at Moscow’s Finance University, argues that “in the elections of the president, a repetition of the 1999 scenario cannot be excluded,” a comment he made to Polit.ru (polit.ru/article/2017/05/06/elections4/) in response to another article earlier this week by Vasily Izmaylov who makes a similar case (polit.ru/article/2017/05/02/elections2018/).
Both say that this “hypothesis” helps to “explain the political process that has been taking place in Russian recently and also the actions of several Russian oligarchs abroad” and reflects the fact that Putin is “pursuing several strategic goals” including ensuring his own future and securing “a certain stable development of the system.”
“The notion that Putin will not run for a new term is not sensational,” Salin says. “Such a variant already for a certain time has been considered within the elites” and that in turn explains why there is such a heated fight over the post of prime minister, given that now as 20 years ago, many assume that is the last step to the highest office.
There are of course other possible candidates, the Moscow analyst continues, but most of them trail Dmitry Medvedev in the imagination of the powers that be, just as was the case in 2006 when the elite assumed that either Medvedev or Ivanov would succeed Putin in office when the latter could not run for a third successive term.