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Putin Fires Government, To Handpick Successor

From France’s AFP:

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, listens to [former] Russian Premier Mikhail Fradkov in Kazan, Friday, in this Aug. 26, 2005 photograph.

Russian government quits, Putin succession heats up

by Sebastian Smith

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed his prime minister and government Wednesday, paving the way for the Kremlin leader to handpick a successor when he steps down next year.

The replacement of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov with a barely known finance official, Viktor Zubkov, came three months before parliamentary elections and less than six months ahead of a presidential poll to replace Putin.

The lower house of parliament is expected on Friday to rubber stamp the nomination of Zubkov, head of the government’s financial crimes investigation agency and a former Soviet state farm manager.

Analysts saw 65-year-old Zubkov’s sudden rise as the launch of a long-awaited plan to arrange a replacement for Putin when he steps down at the end of a second term in 2008.

Putin hinted at this, saying he wanted to prepare “the country for the period after the presidential election.” …

Independent analyst Yuliya Latynina said the choice of the barely known Zubkov meant Putin did not yet want to make his choice public. “This is not a solution but the putting off of a solution until a later time,” she said.

Others go further, saying that Putin is keeping his options open possibly in order to hold on to power himself.

The constitution limits presidents to two consecutive terms, but would allow a third term at a later date — either at the next scheduled presidential election in 2012 or in much earlier snap polls…

Moscow Carnegie Centre analyst Masha Lipman said she also thought Putin was considering a long-term return to power.

But she warned against drawing early conclusions.

“We are involved in deciphering signals from above. It’s total opaqueness in decision-making. It signifies the separation of the state from society,” she said.

Gee, this is so different from the way things were done under the bad old Soviet Union.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 12th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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