Centre Franco-Russe d’Intelligence Economique et Stratégique

16 juin 2006

Successor May be Unknown Outsider — Russian President

Created: 16.06.2006 16:09 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 16:09 MSK ,

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday introduced a new twist into the hot debate of who will succeed him, saying the Kremlin top job might be held by an as yet unknown outsider, Reuters news agency reported.

The identity of who will replace Putin when he steps down in 2008 is the country’s hottest political topic, with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev currently seen as strong possibles to follow him.

But at a briefing in Shanghai, Putin, 53, steered journalists away from assuming it was down to a straight race between Medvedev and Ivanov. His successor may be “someone not very well known ... not necessarily one of two people,” Putin said, Russian news agencies reported on Friday.

He was emphatic that he would not try to stay on for a third successive term after 2008 — something that would require a constitutional change. “You cannot demand that people respect the law if you yourself break the law,” he said in Shanghai, where he had been at a regional cooperation conference.

Last May the former KGB intelligence agent, whose high popularity ratings make him the envy of his Western counterparts, said he would eventually name a preferred successor in the interests of ensuring continuity and stability.

Speculation has focused on the lawyer Medvedev and ex-spy Ivanov — an old friend of Putin’s — since last November when they were thrust into the spotlight by promotions to top government jobs. The two come from different backgrounds, but both are seen as likely to maintain Putin’s course of ensuring a strong Kremlin and being assertive abroad.

Though any favored candidate would still have to be elected, endorsement by the highly-popular Putin means, in the Russian context, that his election could be taken for granted. Analysts say that Putin may already have made up his mind about who will follow him.

Other names being debated by commentators include his new chief of staff, Sergei Sobyanin, and railways chief Vladimir Yakunin. But they say Putin will not publicly identify his choice until well into 2007 so as not to erode his own authority in office too soon.

Posté par CFRIES à 15:08 - Politique & Media & Presse - Permalien [#]