Vladimir Putin supported the candidacy of the first vice-premier Dmitry Medvedev as a candidate to succeed him in presidential elections scheduled for March 2. This became known at a meeting with leaders of four pro-Kremlin parties, i.e. United Russia, Just Russia, Civil Force and the Agricultural Party. These parties backed Medvedev as a presidential candidate.
“We would like to introduce you the candidacy we all support. This is the First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev”, said the leader of United Russia Boris Gryzlov.
"I have known him closely for 17 years and I completely and fully support this proposal," Putin said.
Right after Putin the Russian Orthodox Church supported the candidacy of Medvedev. The representative of the Moscow Patriarchate said that Medvedev understood the necessity of preservation of Russian spiritual and cultural traditions, that he had the idea of the important role of traditional religions. The Russian Council of Muftis announced that Muslims too would support Medvedev, Interfax reported.
As it has been promised, the candidate supported by Putin and ‘traditional religions’ will be officially introduced at the meeting of United Russia December 17. As it has been promised, the candidate turned out to be a non-party person.
Dmitry Medvedev, a lawyer from Putin’s hometown St. Petersburg served in the Kremlin administration. During several years he has been already considered to be one of the main candidates for the successor. He was regarded as a ‘liberal’ alternative to ‘coercive’ Sergei Ivanov.
The coming of the official to the public sphere (that is to the presidential candidates) happened in autumn 2005 when he was transferred from the position of the chief of the presidential staff to the post in the government and became the first vice-premier. He headed the special commission on ‘priority national projects’. The projects are almost the same as formerly existed federal purpose programs, but with much more funding.
Medvedev disposes of such a powerful financial resource as Gazprom and that informational - state TV-channels and Gazprom-media. After Alisher Usmanov has purchased the publishing house Kommersant, the main social and political daily Kommersant follows the policy, which is favourable for Gazprom; and there is good reason to believe, that it will be favourable for Medvedev too. The Usmanov’s media-holding comprehends also several popular editions, including an electronic one gazeta.ru
After his appointment at the post of the vice-premier the chief of Gazprom again and again appeared at federal channels. In his turn Gazprom is often mentioned in the associative row “gas - economic stability - development - Russia”.
Medvedev’s appearance at the economic forum in Davos in January 2007 was taken as an official presentation of Putin’s successor, and his speech as the program of the future president. “There won’t be gratuitous for anybody anymore. And not mythical enemies from without, but real demands of the Russian economy made us to take the decision”, said Medvedev at the forum.
At last according to a political strategists’ anecdote, the famous in Runet ‘Preved, Medved’ was launched as part of the Medvedev’s promotion campaign.
Nevertheless to this autumn Medvedev seemed to step back in the race of successors. In increasing frequency federal channels showed Ivanov who appeared with program foreign policy speeches. Ratings indicated that Ivanov surpassed Medvedev and claimed to the position oа the premier. All these guess-works were abolished for two hours, which passed between resignation of Mikhail Fradkov’s cabinet and appointment of Victor Zubkov at the post of the premier minister, although everybody was sure that just Ivanov would become the head of the government. Taking into account this Kremlin’s tendency to surprises one can’t exclude that the present nomination of Medvedev is just the beginning of a new complicated election presidential intrigue.
“It seems to me that this is not a final decision, but just a intermediate clearness”, said Nikolai Petrov, an analyst with the Carnegie Center in Moscow to Polit.ru. In his opinion there is still enough time and some new candidate can appear, so that they will concur ‘up to the final ring’. Petrov noted that now there was an interim victory of the clan that supported the idea of a successor, but not the reservation of Putin in power in one way or another.
The expert considers that for the moment the model ‘malleable president’ is realized, so that Putin can still wield power from behind the scenes. “Obviously, Medvedev won’t be able to head the so-called Siloviki block; he has no precondition for it. That means that some transitional period is inevitable, when not all functions of the real head of state will be passed to a new president”, argues Petrov. Thus Putin will stay in power and keep most of his previous functions later.
At the same time Ivanov has not still played his role till the end. It is quite possible that the scheme ‘premier+president’ will be realized. So the expert assumes that Medvedev and Ivanov are rather complementary that alternative figures.
Born in 1965 in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and graduated from the law department of Leningrad Zhdanov State University in 1987.
In 1990-1995, Medvedev served as an advisor to the chairman of the Leningrad City Council and an expert with the external relations committee of the St. Petersburg City Hall that was headed by Vladimir Putin.
Medvedev was appointed first deputy presidential chief of staff in June 2000 and presidential chief of staff in October 2003. In November 2002, he became presidential representative at the National Banking Council.
Medvedev was twice elected board chairman of the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom (in June 2000 and June 2002).