Russian Presidential Transition: From Putin ... to Putin
Recorded on February 27, 2008
Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium
Russia's presidential election, set for March 2,
already has a frontrunner - and winner. Dmitry Medvedev may
be President Vladimir Putin's chosen successor for the country's
highest office, but few people believe he will be in charge.
Many think that the actual leader of Russia after the
election will still be Putin, not Medvedev, a civilian bureaucrat,
who lacks the corporate backing of the siloviki - the
Russian secret services, law enforcement, and their veterans, the
real power base of his mentor. The support of the leadership
of Russia's intelligence and security services, the military, and
the military-industrial complex is essential for the current
Russian political system of "managed" democracy to remain in place.
Medvedev's anticipated victory will represent a continuation of
"politics as usual" in Putin's Russia. He will preside over
an illiberal state rife with internal weaknesses, including a poor
demographic profile. As Russia may further expand state
management of key sectors of the national economy, pervasive
corruption will fester at high levels of the Russian
state-corporate complex, and human rights abuses continue.
The foreign policy of the Putin-Medvedev administration will
likely include escalating tensions with the United States and the
UK, a divide-and-conquer approach vis-à-vis the rest of
Europe, and continuing rapprochement with Iran, China and
Venezuela. Whoever resides in the White House will have much
to do dealing with the resurgent Russia.