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Shocker: Medvedev Says Putin Will Be PM

From a delighted New York Times:

Russian President Vladimir Putin and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend a meeting of Russian party leaders in the Kremlin in Moscow December 10, 2007.

Medvedev Says Putin Would Be Named Premier

By CLIFFORD J. LEVY

MOSCOW, Dec. 11 — A day after President Vladimir V. Putin endorsed a loyal protégé, Dmitri A. Medvedev, as his successor, Mr. Medvedev went before the nation today and declared that he in turn would name Mr. Putin as his prime minister.

The announcement appeared to bring to a close questions about how Mr. Putin intends to wield influence over Russia after his term ends next year. Mr. Putin is barred by the Constitution from running for a third consecutive term, but he had indicated in recent months that he had no intention of giving up his power when he steps down in the spring.

Mr. Medvedev has no background in the state security services and virtually no power base in the Kremlin, and he is seen here as a relatively weak figure beholden to Mr. Putin. With Mr. Putin as prime minister, it would appear that little will change in who controls Russia.

Some analysts have speculated that Mr. Medvedev might even step down before his term as president ends — clearing the way for Mr. Putin to be elevated again from prime minister to president, a development that is allowed under the Constitution

In his speech today, Mr. Medvedev said that Russia had to continue on the path set by Mr. Putin since he took office in 2000.

“In order to stay on this path, it is not enough to elect a new president who shares this ideology,” Mr. Medvedev said. “It is not less important to maintain the efficiency of the team formed by the incumbent president. That is why I find it extremely important for our country to keep Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin at the most important position in the executive power, at the post of the chairman of the government.”

Mr. Putin had indicated in October in a speech to his party, United Russia, that he might become prime minister or party leader…

Mr. Medvedev, who is a first deputy prime minister and the chairman of Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly, has never run for any office, and almost his entire career has been linked to Mr. Putin.

Unlike Mr. Putin and many top officials in the Kremlin, Mr. Medvedev appears to have no background in the K.G.B.; its successor, the F.S.B.; or other state security agencies.

Mr. Putin’s selection of Mr. Medvedev, 42, made him the overwhelming favorite to win the presidency in March. “I’ve been very close to him for more than 17 years,” Mr. Putin said on Monday in a televised appearance with leaders of four political parties allied with the Kremlin, “and fully and completely support this candidacy.”

Little is known about how Mr. Medvedev, a former law professor, might govern — other than what can be inferred from a relationship with Mr. Putin, 55, that is sometimes compared here to father and son…

Mr. Medvedev has a reputation as a technocrat with a strong grasp of economics, and he is given to making scholarly allusions to Latin legal terms. Mr. Putin has put him in charge of spending some of the country’s large budget surplus — amassed because of the high price of oil — on improving housing, health care, education and other social services.

Mr. Putin also appointed him chairman of Gazprom, though he does not have deep roots in the company and is regarded as the Kremlin’s eyes and ears there.

In contrast to Mr. Ivanov, Mr. Medvedev is considered a moderate with a more pro-Western bent. Still, he has never publicly described his agenda should he win the presidency. Despite the discussion over the last year about presidential succession, he had never declared an interest in the office, clearly in deference to Mr. Putin.

Mr. Medvedev, who is short and youthful-looking, is regularly shown on state-controlled television, but he is not known for having a politician’s skill at connecting with large audiences. He is considered to be less awkward in more informal settings and is known for cracking jokes and bantering with journalists.

He made no public comments on Monday, beyond a terse acceptance of Mr. Putin’s endorsement at the meeting of political parties shown on Russian television. Mr. Putin said at the meeting that under Mr. Medvedev, Russia would continue to follow the course set over the past eight years.

Born in St. Petersburg, Mr. Medvedev received his first job in the city’s government in the early 1990s, thanks to Mr. Putin. Mr. Medvedev also taught law at St. Petersburg State University in the 1990s.

Ah, democracy.

Still, it could be worse, one supposes.

Mr. Putin might have run his wife.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, December 11th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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