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Who Will Be the Next President of Russia?

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    The article names the future President of Russia to be elected in 2008. (Published on June 24, 2006)

In September 2005 the President of Ukraine Victor Yushenko dismissed the Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko. In October 2005 I wrote a poem (available on this site in Russian) predicting that J. Timoshenko would become the Prime Minister again. The other day mass media reported that President Yushenko had decided to appoint J. Timoshenko Prime Minister. So my prediction had come true. Inspired by this success I decided to continue the forecasting practice.
I must confess that to make a correct forecast at that time wasn't so difficult. By the autumn of 2005 President Yushenko had proved to be a weak personality unable to rule the country. All his popularity gained during the so called "Orange Revolution" faded away to almost nothing. His failure during the coming election was obvious and was forecast by all public opinion polls. Against such background J. Timoshenko was clearly seen as a strong-willed personality able to consolidate the supporters of Orange Revolution. Taking into account that her main opponent Yanukovitch was supported by only 30 percent of voters her victory was quite predictable.
In Russia the situation is more complex and intriguing because everything depends on one person - President Putin. Any polls are useless since the next President will be the person named by Putin, and the latter is a much more complex and unpredictable personality than unsophisticated Yushenko. One of his habits is to make sudden unexpected appointments of high ranking Russian officials. A typical example is the appointment of Fradkov, who had been completely unknown by general public, to the position of Prime Minister. Nobody expected, nobody could foresee that appointment, and not a single mass medium named him a candidate to the position.
The same goes to the situation with the candidate to the position of Russian President. Since the last presidential election in 2004 all sober people in this country have been maddened by mystery: whom will Putin choose as his successor in 2008? Recently one nimble journalist published a book entitled "2008" to earn decent money describing disasters taking place in 2008. There are even people who conjecture that Putin will again run for presidency in 2008. I must say that I completely disagree with such irresponsible statements. I trust in Putin who has repeated many times that he won't violate Russia's constitution that prohibits one person to occupy Presidents position two consecutive terms though Putin has never excluded his Presidency in 2012.
In this paper I will name the future President of Russia and try to substantiate my choice taking into account the following correlated factors.
1. Some specific features of Putin's personality, his disposition.
2. Some specific features of Russian public opinion.
3. Current political situation in Russia
4. Putin's words and hints scattered about his interviews, press conferences, speeches.
In March 2004 just after he was elected President for the second term Putin gave a press conference at which one of the questions was about his successor in 2008.
V.Tsypliaev (a reporter): It is common knowledge that the preparation for the next election starts just after the previous election. Do you have any notion of the person whom you would like to see as your successor and when will the selection of the candidate begin?
Putin (earnestly): The selection of the candidate began long time ago, four years ago. http://www.vesti.ru/files.html?id=4904&tid=20781
Putin's words are very characteristic of contemporary political situation in Russia and precisely reflect the existing feudal system of transference of power. The next Ruler isn't an independent person elected by public vote, he is a Successor appointed by the current Ruler. The election of course will take place but its results can never contradict the Ruler's will. The election is a democratic formality designed to ratify the Ruler's decision so that it can come into effect.
You, my Reader, might think that I denounce this system; if so you are badly mistaken. On the contrary I approve of this practice and wholeheartedly support it as the overwhelming majority of Russians does. This system of power transfer perfectly fits economic and political situation in Russia as well as the psychology of Russian people. If suddenly a person not appointed by the President comes to power it will mean repartition of government property (oil and gas companies in the first turn) and is sure to cause economic and political disasters.
Actually all Russian history evidences that any ruining of existing system of power transfer caused devastating disasters.
One of such catastrophes took place in the end of the 16th century when after the death of Ivan the Terrible Boris Godunov came into power, murdered Ivan's only son and then suddenly died himself. After that the power was seized by a group of magnates who immediately began to rob and plunder and the country went to pieces; its northern part was occupied by the Swedes, and Polish invades seized Moscow. Distempered Times darkled Russia. Only nation-wide revolt liberated the country and in 1613 representatives of all social layers of Russian society elected Mikhail Romanov Tsar.
Perhaps it was the only and the last free election in Russian history
The next turning point in Russian history took place in 1917 when the last Romanov tsar, Nicolas I was dethroned and then when the communists came to power murdered with all his family. The revolution was followed by the civil war and Russia lost millions of people as well as vast territories.
Under the Soviet Union the rulers were elected for lifetime by a dozen of Politburo (Political Bureau of Communist Party) members.
The next catastrophe occurred in the beginning of 1990-s when after Gorbachev's resignation the power was seized by a dozen of magnates (the so-called oligarchs), who using President Eltsin as a decoration, began to rob and plunder to become the riches people in the world. As a result Russia lost millions of people and vast territories. Giving Eltsin his due I must admit that he did one wise thing: suggested Putin as his successor thus introducing a new practice of power transfer.
Putin turned out a lucky choice for Russia. Just after his election oil and gas prices went up and they are still growing. That is why many Russians want Putin to be elected for the third term: they intuitively associate high oil and gas prices and economic stability with Putin's name, they are instinctively afraid that when he is not in power the prices fall down again.
Putin began to rule with a rod of iron. He cracked down on oligarchs putting Khodorkovsky, the riches and the most influential of them, in prison and concentrated all power in his hands. May be this fact mean Mrs. Bush and Chaney when they state that there is less democracy in Russia under Putin. Of course the rule of a dozen of oligarchs is much more democratic than the rule of one person.
Having finished this historical digression I am proceeding to the requirements that the future President of Russia must meet.
1. The first requirement was formulated by Putin in one of the recent interviews. He said that the candidate for presidency must be decent, honest, and able to take responsibility for his decisions http://www.rg.ru/2006/06/17/putin.html . I think Putin to be well aware that there isn't a single decent and honest high ranking official in this country and perhaps in the whole world (except Putin himself, of course). So I will take the liberty to correct Putin's words: the future candidate for Russian presidency must seem decent, honest, and professional. Putin is a decent person, no doubt. He is professional because after 7 years of the rule he still enjoys support of the majority of Russians. He is hard-working; he is constantly traveling across Russia and abroad. We see him today in a tank, tomorrow in a fighter plane, the day after tomorrow in a submarine. He really seems tireless in entertaining himself. Russia's President is in no sense an irresponsible person. His sense of responsibility was distinctly displayed during Beslan school hostage crisis when he disappeared and was silent for two weeks. The same happened during Nord-Ost tragedy. Other examples of Putin's responsibility are: successful transfer of islands in the Amur River to China; a promise to cede two Kuril islands to Japan (the Japanese turned out so ungrateful as to reject the generous proposal), closing of Russian military bases in Cuba and Vietnam. Putin's sense of responsibility is rather comprehensive and has a wide range.He is responsible not only to Russian people but to Chinese, Americans, Japanese. Many people wonder: what position will Putin take after 2008? I can confidently forecast: UN Secretary-General.
2. The second requirement corresponds to Putin's habit of making unexpected appointments. Recently he confirmed it himself saying that the candidate he would name was not widely known. So we can safely dismiss as possible candidates such persons as Medvedev, Vice Prime Minister, and Ivanov, Defense Secretary, who constantly appear on TV screens and are thought by many mass media possible successors. Putin is sure not to choose one of heads of political parties, such as Zhirinovsky or Ziuganov, he will choose from one of his friends or acquaintances with whom he worked.
3. The Successor must be connected with the security services; he must be either an acting or former KGB man or at least a policeman. The KGB men are disciplined; they obey commands without asking questions. Putin finished higher KGB school, worked as a resident in Germany and left KGB in the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Many of his former KGB colleagues were appointed ministers, high ranking officials, representatives. During his rule the number of policemen tripled; they and staff members of Federal Security agency (modern KGB's counterpart) get the highest salaries among the government officials. Being a KGB man Putin is naturally expected to choose one of the colleagues as a successor.
4. The Successor must be an amiable person, a charismatic personality. Putin produces impression on Russian women, and many of them are crazy about him. My own wife likes his appearances and I have always been surprised by it: what can be so attractive in this small bald-patched man with a dummy look? But fact remains fact: Putin is charismatic. Taking into account that Russian women constitute the majority of population and are more disciplined than men in participating in election I can say that a freak with a hump has no chances at all.
5. He must be healthy, energetic, and comparatively young. Like Putin. People in this country are sick and tired of rulers-racks who can hardly move their upper and lower extremities. Older generation remembers very well Breznev who could hardly speak and his successors Chernenko and Andropov who died of old age one by one in less than a year after coming to power. And everybody remembers Eltsin's frequent illnesses when he had to stay at hospital and all country surmised whether the grub dies or not.
On coming to power Putin impressed everybody as a good sport able to ski in the mountains or participate in a wrestling competition. After Putin nobody will accept a ruined person as a Successor and I think Putin realizes it. Such people as Primakov, former Prime Minister, have no chances in spite of great respect they enjoy.
6. The Successor must be a native born Russian. So far Russians constitute the majority of population and will never vote for a representative of other nations especially if he is a Moslem, for example a Tatar or a Chechen. That is why Shoygu, the Minister of Emergent Situations, who comes form Tuva, has no chances. The same goes to Nurgaliev, the Minister of Internal Affairs. On the other hand representatives of Slavic nations, people with Ukrainian or Byelorussian surnames can have some chances especially if they were born in Russia. Lukashenko, the President of Byelorussia is popular here and if two countries consolidate he has good chances. Though he is very unlikely to be named by Putin as his Successor.
Finally I will name a candidate to Russian Presidency. He is Konstantin Romodanovsky. Have your ever heard about him? If not I'll give you some facts.
Born in 1959 he is younger than Putin and has rather attractive I can say even noble appearances (see his photo below). No wonder, he comes from an ancient noble Russian family and one of his ancestors, Prince Fedor Romodanovsky, was the faithful associate of Peter the Great and ruled Russia when the Tsar was away abroad. Compare the picture of Prince Romodanovsky (taken from the encyclopedia of Cyril and Methodius) with the photo of K.Romodanovsky to find striking likeness between them.
He worked as a medical man, graduated from higher KGB courses and under Putin held a high position in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the rank of lieutenant-general. Though not widely known he gained some reputation struggling with corruption among police staff. Currently general Romodanovsky is Head of Federal Migration Agency and very seldom appears on TV screens.
I think Putin will make a correct choice naming Romodanovsky as his successor. The latter meets all requirements described above and has all chances to be liked by Russian public. He is sure to continue Putin's policy without damaging the political and economic system of Russia. He is the person to guarantee a smooth transference of power from Putin in 2008, and back to Putin in 2012. This is the right choice, Mr. President!
K.O.Romodanovsky []
Prince Fedor Romodanovsky [Encyclopedia of Cyril and Methodius]
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