• Alexander Dubowy

Putin's State of the Union address

Aktualisiert: 17. Feb. 2021

In his traditional State of the Union address, Vladimir Putin announced a constitutional reform aimed at reorganizing the relationship between state powers. According to the reform, the term of office of the President will be limited to a maximum of two terms. On the other hand, Parliament's powers will be extended at the expense of the President, and the State Council, the President's advisory body established by presidential decree in 2000, will be greatly enhanced and incorporated into the constitution. The changes in the Russian power system and the search for a suitable position for Vladimir Putin for the period after 2024 in the spirit of Deng Xiaoping or Lee Kuan Yew are in full swing. Post-Putin Russia has been taking shape.


After Vladimir Putin's - surprisingly interesting - State of the Union address, the entire Russian government resigned. The failure of the government, the lack of approval rates and the increasingly tense social situation of the population may have played only a subordinate role in this decision. Instead, the current developments should be read against the background of the transit of power in 2024.


With regard to the person of Dmitry Medvedev and his future: Vladimir Putin has proposed to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev the newly created position of Deputy Head of the Security Council. At first glance, the position of Deputy Head of the Security Council appears to be a clear demotion for Medvedev. It could only be a temporary supply post before Medvedev's move to the top of the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. However, it could also announce the removal of Nikolai Partushev as Secretary of the Security Council. In this case, Medvedev would probably take over the post. Given the still deep relationship of trust and loyalty between Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev, Medvedev is likely to be destined for higher orders and will accompany Putin's transition of power.


The situation has become at most difficult for Russia's numerous elite groups. The degree of complexity has increased sharply. In order to secure their future after 2024, elite groups must pay attention to developments at several levels at the same time and cover different fields in parallel: for example, the increasing power of Parliament in the future, the position of the new Council of State and the role of Putin in the future system of power.


Who's going to be the next prime minister? Now the way would be clear to former finance minister Alexey Kudrin to head the new government. It is more likely, however, that, in line with the current generational shift, a representative of the new generation of young technocrats (e.g. Anton Alikhanov, governor of the Kaliningrad region) will take office as prime minister. After all, the question of the transit of power in 2024 is not about a single successor, but about an entire generation of successors. It is still difficult to imagine a representative of the so-called siloviki group (people with a secret service, police or military background) as prime minister. This would reduce the chances, e.g. Alexei Djumin, governor of Tula.


In any case, the new Prime Minister should be seen as a possible successor, but only as a possible successor and not as a certain successor. The issue of the successor remains open. Once again, Vladimir Putin has managed to surprise everyone and keeps all options open.


Vladimir Putin is proposing the head of the Mikhail Mishustin Federal Tax Service as the new prime minister. The decision was taken in favor of a purely technical-executive prime minister rather than a political prime minister. The Mishustin technocrat is certainly not a serious successor. The issue of the successor remains open.


Like Mikhail Fradkov and Viktor Zubkov in the 1990s, Mikhail Mishustin, as a pure technocrat for all difficult situations, without any political power, will try to manage the difficult tasks (the preparation of constitutional reform as well as national projects) in a technically efficient manner. In doing so, however, he will carry out a far more important task: to create a stable foundation for the political prime minister who may come before the end of this year.


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