Whether Putin wanted to be persuaded to stay on, was testing his entourage for their readiness for a power transition, or was simply waiting for the right moment, we may never know. But there is no evidence that he was preparing to choose a successor.
Amid a coronavirus pandemic and looming global economic crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin has suddenly revealed how he intends to remain in power beyond 2024, when what should be his final term in office ends. In doing so, Putin seems to have bet – not incorrectly – that there is simply no one who can stop him.
Putin, a man torn by conflicting impulses, has opted for stability in moving to stay on as president after 2024. In doing so, he surprised the elite and even some in the presidential administration, deceiving those around him—though not the public—with his talk of changes in leadership and overhauling Russia’s political system. His real intentions are impossible to know, but his priority is clear: keeping his options open.
The 2024 election will be one in which the generation of “Putin’s children,” those who have made their careers and profited from the twenty years of Putin’s presidency, face a serious challenge to keep the assets they have acquired.
The extreme sentences handed down to defendants in what is being called the “Network Case” is an ominous sign.
President Putin has embarked on a renewal of Russia’s ruling regime to make sure it weathers the political transition of 2024 and to preserve his personal power-base. The elite can be divided into five distinct groups, two of which, the “protectors” and “technocrats” may end up in a fierce ideological fight.
The Russian public’s appetite for change has increased considerably in the past two years, according to a new poll by the Carnegie Moscow Center and the Levada Center. What kind of change do people want, and what are they prepared to do about it?
If the thirst for political change continues to gain momentum in Russia, a full-scale demand for political freedoms and alternatives may emerge quite soon.
Russia’s new cabinet ministers are young, efficient, nonconfrontational, adaptable, and don’t poke their noses into politics. They live in the digital world that is so difficult for the country’s aging leadership to understand. With time, the victim of this technocratic dominance may be that very same leadership.
Putin’s proposed amendments to various roles amount to something resembling an insurance policy, which suggests that the president has already decided who his successor will be, though he may not name that person for another three years.