Even before Russian President Vladimir Putin won reelection to another six-year term, there was growing speculation about how he intends to preserve his power and legacy after 2024. But with the nomination of Alexei Kudrin to the government’s central budgeting body, Putin’s long-term plan seems to be taking shape.
.. Putin’s nomination of former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin to chair the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. The selection of Kudrin for this role calls to mind former President Boris Yeltsin’s own search for a successor who would preserve his legacy and protect his family and fortune.
.. Yeltsin had amassed around $15 million while in office, and he ultimately put his trust in Putin – a former KGB man – to protect his children and his money, and to keep him out of prison.
.. Dmitry Medvedev, keep his seat warm until he could return to the presidency in 2012. A far more competent placeholder would have been Sergei Ivanov, a former KGB general. But Ivanov is much taller than Putin, who, at any rate, had only achieved the rank of colonel. An obvious potential threat to Putin’s power, Ivanov was passed over,
.. Despite his years in office, Medvedev is still known more for his fancy ties and expensive watches than for his executive actions.
.. In 2011, Kudrin resigned as finance minister after publicly suggesting that Medvedev was an incompetent fool.
.. Kudrin’s nomination as Russia’s chief accountant matters because it will give him – and thereby Putin – more knowledge of corruption. And with that, Putin will be able to manipulate anyone who may have future designs on the presidency, perhaps with the goal of reinstalling Medvedev as a placeholder after 2024.
.. siloviki – former Soviet military and intelligence officers – who make up the bulk of his cabinet and account for the Kremlin’s unchecked power over Russian political life.
.. By championing Russia’s military-industrial complex, Putin can keep the siloviki occupied and on his side. To that end, he has reinstated the World War II victory parades that were discontinued under Yeltsin. The events now grow more breathtaking and grandiose with each passing year.
But recent reports suggest that Russia’s military readiness is more fiction than fact. The “invincible” missiles that Putin has touted have apparently crashed during tests, and are thus little more than militaristic props. One conclusion to draw from these failures is that someone in the Ministry of Defense is stealing. There is no other plausible excuse for failing to deliver the weapons Putin ordered.
.. a new study finds that Russia’s defense and intelligence ministries are among the state’s most corrupt institutions.
.. Kudrin has clearly been installed to ensure that the “trusted” security apparatus can actually be trusted.
.. current defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, is probably now in the Kremlin’s crosshairs.
.. Shoigu looks like a man in charge. But that poses a problem for Putin’s own claim to be the protector of the Russian nation. There can be only one brave leader who saves people from Siberian tigers and hang-glides with endangered Siberian white cranes.
.. Though Shoigu’s Siberian-Mongolian ancestry effectively disqualifies him from being elected by the country’s vast majority of ethnic Russians, Putin is not one to take chances.
.. If a rival from the security establishment were to assume the presidency, he could choose to build his own legacy, rather than honor Putin’s. It is up to Medvedev and Kudrin, the rare civilians in Putin’s inner circle, to make sure that doesn’t happen.