SUCCESSOR AUDITIONS TO BE HELD IN GERMANY?

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Autumn’s main events: from the new Cabinet to Putin’s schedule

The appointment of the new Cabinet has shown that the principles for reforming it haven’t been fully determined yet. Some insignificant reshuffles of ministers and deputy ministers clearly don’t live up to Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov’s recent statements about the need for reforms.


The appointment of the new Cabinet has shown that the principles for reforming it haven’t been fully determined yet. Some insignificant reshuffles of ministers and deputy ministers clearly don’t live up to Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov’s recent statements about the need for reforms.

All the same, there are sure to be some fundamental changes to the government’s structure over the next few months – until it assumes the form it will retain over the next few years. Its family connections are likely to disappear. At present, almost 15% of Cabinet ministers are related to each other in some way. But President Vladimir Putin hasn’t yet accepted the resignation of Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov (Zubkov’s son-in-law), and there is a fairly substantial reason for that. Serduykov hasn’t yet completed his task: restoring order to the streams of money that flow into and out of the Defense Ministry. Neither has he completed an inventory of the military’s vast amounts of property.

Cabinet ministers understand that they remain what they were a few days ago: temporary.

The next major event of this autumn is the United Russia party’s campaign congress. It will be held in early October, after the Communist Party and Just Russia congresses. United Russia expects President Putin to attend and give a speech. Rumor has it that he will outline the state of politics and the economy under the next president. United Russia might also get some directions in the form of strategic objectives to pursue once it wins the parliamentary election. Party rumors indicate that United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov has asked President Putin to publicly express support for the idea of a party-based government – and allow members of parliament to serve as Cabinet ministers, as they are permitted by law to do in France and Britain.

President Putin may also say something about continuing administrative-territorial reforms: in other words, merging and enlarging regions. And naturally, United Russia members would be delighted if they are the first to hear President Putin name a potential successor. All the same, the general argument in his speech will be as follows: “If I leave, nothing will change – I’ll still be around.”

Rumor has it that Gryzlov would very much like to hear Putin say something along the following lines: “I hope that United Russia will be the guarantor of continuing the policies and reforms which have been carried out in recent years.”

Events won’t stand still after United Russia’s congress, of course. President Putin has a very tight schedule. The most important event will be his visit to Germany for some broad-ranging consultations with German leaders on everything from political matters to Europe’s gas supplies.

After Germany, a visit to Iran is being planned – and the whole world will be watching closely.

And here’s another interesting detail. Sources from parties, the government, and other political circles maintain that Putin will take his potential successor to the talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. This person certainly won’t be Prime Minister Zubkov – since Russia’s two most senior state officials are never included in the same delegation at the same time.

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