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.
The only thing Putin is missing is a silver topped cane and a top hat. I’m sticking with my disastrously wrong prediction of Shoigu though.
It seems to me, although Zubkov is touted as being neutral, that he is much more likely to lean toward the siloviki (security services, former KGB wing) faction within the Putin government. This is suggested by rumors that he is a close ally of Sechin (the leader of the siloviki faction) and that he was involved in financial invstigations – a favored method of intimidation and control by the siloviki. Also, he has a mafia-like connection to the siloviki: his daughter is married to the son of the current Russian defense minister – Serdyukov (see my own blog entry on Serdyukov earlier this year). Thus, it would seem to suggest that his appointment is a victory for the siloviki faction within the Russian government.
I wonder if we’ll ever see pictures of Zubkov without a shirt on?
Some articles on the subject:
Zubkov, Putin Go Way Back
Putin’s Nomination for Premier Stuns Political Elite
Surprise Candidate Could Indicate Putin’s Indecision
Fall “Cleaning” in Russia