CONFUSED BY BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT

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MOST RUSSIANS ARE CONVINCED THAT VLADIMIR PUTIN IN THE CAPACITY OF THE PREMIER WILL PERFORMS SOME FUNCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT

Most Russians expect Vladimir Putin to retain its clout in the premier’s capacity.


Sociologists of the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM) conducted an opinion poll a fortnight before election of the president and discovered that the Russians fully expect Vladimir Putin to retain his clout in politics. Most Russians (88%) are convinced that not even resignation as the president will diminish Putin’s clout. Ninety-three percent of the Russians who voted for Dmitry Medvedev gave this answer to the question. Ninety-nine percent are stone-cold confident that Putin will keep the reigns in his own hands even when he is no longer the president. Only 3% believe that Putin should step down completely and leave everything to the new president.

“It shows that Medvedev’s voters are actually Putin’s,” VTsIOM General Director Valery Fyodorov said. “As for Medvedev himself, he is perceived as someone who will continue what Putin started, and not as a new president about to begin everything from scratch.” According to Fyodorov, “It never even occurs to the people that so powerful and respectable a politician will agree to have his powers restricted or want to become someone’s subordinate… That is why the president kept saying that he had no intentions to run for presidency again while opinion polls kept showing that this was exactly what the people wanted and expected from him.” Asked about Putin’s future in the capacity of prime minister, respondents (62%) believe that he will perform some of the functions currently performed by the president.

Experts are usually less categorical than respondents in the streets. Most political scientists expect appearance of a tandem at first but suspect that the Russian state will be down to only one center of power again one fine day.

Iosif Diskin of the National Strategy Council expects Medvedev to initiate formation of his own “kitchen Cabinet” next week. (According to Diskin, in the United States this term is applied to every new president’s advance-guard, his inner circle of closest confidants who are entrusted with the task of putting together the rest of the team.) The expert is convinced that Medvedev’s “kitchen Cabinet” will include the official who will be put in charge of the presidential administration, a couple of trusted aides, and whoever will tackle personnel issues. Diskin believes that Medvedev will discuss personnel composition of the “kitchen Cabinet” with Putin, but only when it has already been formed. “Discuss is the key word here, as opposed to asking Putin for advice,” Diskin said.

“I believe we can already scrap the forecasts that Medvedev will be a weak president with a strong Premier Putin,” Aleksei Mukhin of the Political Information Center said. “Despite all preliminary agreements, Putin will have to give up on particularly odious men like Igor Sechin.” The experts predicted staff shuffles in security structures as well and appearance of “pro-Medvedev men in their upper echelons.” “All in all, the pro-Putin to pro-Medvedev proportion in the corridors of power will be fifty-fifty,” Mukhin said.

Mikhail Krasnov of the Supreme School of Economics (Department of Constitutional Law) does not expect any diarchy in Russia regardless of the exact nature of relations within the tandem. “The Constitution we have includes a system of checks and counterbalances that only allows for a mono-subject political regime headed by the president,” Krasnov said. “If, however, there is a pact between Medvedev and Putin that the premier will be strong and independent, then the center of decision-making will shift to the government indeed.”

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