A successful successor
Dmitry Medvedev was announced to be the successor to the president Putin. It can hardly be said that it is a surprise: experts, which have commented the decision said that the figure of a ‘compromise liberal’ could suit both rights and lefts in the country, the East and the business society. But first of all it suits Putin whose image has been pretty spoilt by United Russia.
Many experts consider that nomination of Medvedev for the presidency is caused by striving for compromise and reestablishment of a balance of power, which recently shifted towards siloviki. The deputy director of the Social Systems Institute, a political scientist Dmitry Badovsky draws attention to the fact how namely Medvedev has been nominated. His candidacy was proposed by leaders of four parties, that is United Russia, Civil Force, Just Russia and Agrarian party.
“Why was Medvedev chosen? The present scheme of his nomination indicates that he is nominated not only by United Russia, but by as far as possible wide political circle”, argues Badovsky. “This is moderate lefts and representatives of the Agrarian party on the one hand, on the other hand liberals are represented by Civil Force”.
In the opinion of the specialist, this choice is based on the idea of ‘universality’. “Medvedev is a consensus figure, that suits for the wide circle of political elites”, said Badovsky. He mentions that this is also a signal for both Russian and foreign business where there are many stereotypes and phobias concerning reinforcement of the so-called siloviki in Russian policy. “Medvedev is a signal, which is designed to take away the anxiety and calm businessmen down.”
“The nomination of a liberal candidate is quite an expected step”, claimed the analyst of the found ‘Indem’ Georgy Satarov. In his opinion, this reestablish a balance of power in the government. “There was a turn towards siloviki lately. This was an attack against Kudrin, to which the president didn’t manage to counter. Although he didn’t want this assault, he can’t control the struggle between clans in his clique.”
According to Alexander Kynev, the chief of regional programs of the Foundation for Information Policy Development the nomination of Medvedev is a demonstration of a ‘compromise decision’, which lets not to harm the image of Putin that has been spoilt much by the election campaign of United Russia. During the ‘not much good’ election campaign, says Kynes, some strategic mistakes have been made. The main one is that Putin has personally headed a party, which had much lower rate than he himself. In the result he has lost part of his own rate. After that he could not back a candidate with low rate, since that could irreparably harm his image.
“In this situation a compromise figure of Medvedev, who seems to be a gentle person, is taken as a step towards the demonstration of the compromise, recede from the ‘structural style’ of the election campaign”, argues Kynev.
«The nomination of Medvedev is a renunciation from the model of the third term and appearence of a real successor”, states the expert of the Center for Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin.
Medvedev as the president of Russia
Makarkin considers that Medvedev won’t become such a strong president as Vladimir Putin. Under him a policy of checks and balances will be formed. One of the ‘balances’ can become the second vice-premier Sergei Ivanov, so that they can work in a tandem ‘president-premier minister’.
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.
The future of Russia in the time of Medvedev
All experts unanimously note that Medvedev is a ‘liberal’ figure and don’t expect great changes. Makarkin states that Medvedev has opinions of liberal and market advocate. But, according to him “we should not expect radical changes, although, the style of power will probably change; first of all the policy will be headed for reforms”.
According to Makarkin, Medvedev will carry out a cautious policy. On account of his profession (the so-called ‘St. Petersburg lawyer’) and nature he won’t venture on radical reforms.
Alexander Kynev says that Medvedev is a political figure ‘more or less disposed to compromises’: “One can hardly imagine Medvedev conducting strict policy with the use of that or another forces”, the analyst argues. “That’s why I’m sure that there won’t be any volte-faces. Most likely, the balance of forces having been established still by Putin will be kept”.
Satarov doesn’t expect any changes too. But he explains it not by Medvedev’s nature but rather by the situation, which takes place in the country. In spite of Medvedev’s liberalism, there aren’t and won’t be in the nearest future any self-dependent liberal parties. “The regime has already got used to the presence of assigned malleable liberals, e.g. Civil Force”, Satarov considers, “SPS and Yabloko spent their resources long ago; Kremlin won’t gamble on them”.
“In the next electoral cycle it will be necessary to form a new liberal party”, objects Badovsky. “At first the right platform of United Russian can partly perform this function”. According to him, this right platform will soon become stronger. “United Russia is the most right party among system political parties”, claims Badovsky. “All the parliamentarian opposition is more left. But later on a special liberal party is to appear. Maybe, it will separate from United Russia, but, in my opinion, it is unlikely. Most probably it will be created from nothing”.
Besides that Makarkin notes that Medvedev is a suitable figure for the West. “For the West the appearance of such candidate is a signal that Russia won’t become a new Belarus or Venezuela”, he states. “Medvedev will certainly advance interests of his country, but at the same time he won’t repel West countries. In this regard he is probably even more preferable than Ivanov.”
Where will Putin go?
It is quite obvious that Putin will stay in power behind Medvedev’s back. It is still unclear what way he will choose.
“As for actual president, he will continue wielding influence and even take up some position”, agrees Makarkin. “Maybe he will become a premier, but this can cause psychological difficulties, since until now relations between Putin and his protйgйs were always based of the principle “senior-junior”. If to invent, one can suppose that some new post will be created specially for Putin; for example he can head the State Council”.
“They have chosen a figure, rather malleable and extremely loyal to the (actual) president. That means that first of all Putin regards informal ways of the retention of power”, states Satarov. He assumes that Putin “at once can fulfill his dream and become a supertycoon”.
It is not a foregone conclusion yet
“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’.
Satarov expects new promotions too. He agrees that the nomination of Medvedev is not a final decision.