The entire Russian cabinet, including its Prime Minister has just resigned. A new PM hasn’t been chosen yet, but I’d be surprised if the announcement of Putin’s designated ‘heir’ isn’t imminent.
Especially when Putin gives quotes like this:
“The country is nearing parliamentary elections to be followed by presidential elections… We all need to think together about building the power and governing structure so that they can better meet the needs of the pre-election period, and prepare the country for the time after parliamentary and presidential elections in March 2008.”
The BBC reckons the next PM will be Sergei Ivanov. I think they’re probably right.
Update: Well, what do I know?
Instead of appointing Ivanov as his next Prime Minister, Putin has appointed Viktor Zubkov, the relatively unknown head of the Federal Financial Monitoring Service.
The move seems to have wrong-footed most analysts, and the new, updated consensus seems to that there is a big unresolved power struggle between rival Kremlin clans, and that Zubkov got the job because he’s inoffensive (see, for example, the BBC). But, if that’s the case, why did Fradkov resign as Prime Minister in the first place?
Personally, I think it’s because Putin’s got a wicked sense of humour, and enjoys nothing better than spending his days winding up Kremlinologists.