News / Europe

Russia’s Ruling Party Chief Favors Putin for President

Vladimir Putin (file photo)
Vladimir Putin (file photo)
James Brooke

Russia’s ruling party is signaling that it wants Vladimir Putin to be its candidate for president.

The race for Russia’s presidency broke out into the open Thursday when United Russia chief Yuri Shuvalov pegged Mr. Putin as the party’s choice for presidential elections next March.

After three years of harmony, political ambitions now strain the relationship between Russia’s two leaders - Prime Minister Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev.

On Tuesday, President Medvedev seemed to turn against his mentor, Mr. Putin, in an interview with Chinese state television.

"We need to change. We need to modernize economic and social life and political system. New people need to come. New politicians need to come," Mr. Medvedev said.

He ended the interview saying that a decision on the official presidential candidate should be made soon.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Putin responded by asking everyone to tone down the rhetoric:

He warned that "there is almost a year until elections and all this fuss does not contribute to a normal working structure."

For the past decade, Mr. Putin has held the post of president or prime minister of Russia. Drawing on this political experience, he warned of the lame duck phenomenon - where power drains away from an official who prematurely announces retirement.

He said that if clear signals are sent too early about candidacies, "half the administration and a large half of the government will stop working in anticipation of some kind of changes."

In the last three weeks, President Medvedev aggressively carved out an independent stance. He bluntly dismissed as "unacceptable" Prime Minister Putin’s criticism of Russia’s Libya policy. Then he announced that high government officials will no longer sit on state company boards. As a result, Igor Sechin, right hand man to Mr. Putin, stepped down on Monday as chairman of Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil company.

The stakes are high. Whoever wins next March will run Russia through 2018. A second term would bring this leader to 2024. Given state controls on the press and on political activity, there is not expected to be a viable third candidate.

Alexei Mukhin, director of the Center for Political Information, a research firm, believes that it would be too much of a risk for Vladimir Putin to allow Dmitry Medvedev a second term as president.

"Six more years of Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency means build-up of his political power," he said.

Both men enjoy high approval ratings: 69 percent for Prime Minister Putin and 66 percent for President Medvedev. These have dipped slightly over the last year, but are still higher than the electoral performance for United Russia. In regional elections last month, the ruling party won 46 percent of votes cast.

Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst close to the Kremlin,  said that both men see themselves as candidates with good prospects for winning. He believes that Mr. Medvedev has the power of the incumbency:

"If Putin wants to fight for the office, he has to offer something extraordinary," Pavlovsky said.

With the race to power beginning to heat up, analysts may have to sharpen their skills in an old Soviet era art: Kremlinology.

You May Like

Taiwan President Sounds Warning on Future of China Ties

Current Taiwan government has eased once dangerously tough relations with Beijing since 2008, but next year’s presidential election could change that course More

US Presidential Candidates Woo Hispanic Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support More

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Documentary is a close-up and personal view of young woman who has become of global symbol of courage and inspiration More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs