Apr 11, 2008

Putting the "Prime" in Prime Minister

Time is ticking down for President Putin’s final term. But the transition to Prime Minister is already taking shape.

Last month, a Levada Center poll found that 61% of Russian’s believed “power in the country will remain in the hands of [Vladimir] Putin and his entourage.”

How astute.

Days later, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov confirmed that the out-going president will indeed be made head of United Russia. Soon after reports began to surface that Putin would keep control over all, or some, of the power ministries. Just to be safe, Putin will also keep his authority over federal envoys to the regions -- formerly answeable to the president.

If the current trend holds, then Putin is firmly on track to fundamentally alter the structure of state authority. Vremya Novostei has already noted that, “After May 7, we will have a president very limited in his actions and a premier very powerful in the sphere of realpolitik (Jamestown).”

Indeed, this new order will more closely approximate the former Soviet model of federal governance, whereby the presidency is relegated to a symbolic office, one party dominates the legislature, and the party general secretary – in this case Putin – will exercise true state power.

For Medvedev, the writing should be on the wall.

But hell, viva democracia!

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