Ziegler_Russia and the CIS in 2007

Ziegler_Russia and the CIS in 2007 - RUSSIA AND THE CIS IN...

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133 Asian Survey , Vol. 48, Issue 1, pp. 133–143, ISSN 0004-4687, electronic ISSN 1533-838X. © 2008 by The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permis- sion to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, at http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintInfo.asp. DOI: AS.2008.48.1.133. Charles E. Ziegler is Professor and University Scholar and Director of the Institute for Democracy and Development at the University of Louisville. RUSSIA AND THE CIS IN 2007 Putin’s Final Year? Charles E. Ziegler Abstract Russia in 2007 moved further away from a constitutional order governed by the rule of law as President Vladimir Putin’s second term drew to a close and the country prepared for parliamentary and presidential elections. High oil and gas prices buoyed the economy, but little progress was made in address- ing Russia’s serious social problems. In foreign policy, confrontation with the West was balanced by excellent relations with most of Asia. Keywords: Russia, Asia, succession, energy, state power Domestic Politics: Leadership Succession The question of leadership succession dominated Russian politics in 2007. Putin’s second term drew to a close, and the central question was not whether but how the former KGB lieutenant colonel would continue to exert power after March 2008. Many within Russia urged the popular presi- dent to ignore the constitutional term limit and rule indeFnitely, emulating Ka- zakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbaev. But Putin preferred to maintain a democratic façade and opted for a subtle strategy of positioning a loyal fol- lower to assume the presidency, while he would presumably control the levers of power from elsewhere in the government structure. ±irst Deputy Prime Ministers Sergei Ivanov and Dmitrii Medvedev seemed to be the president’s top choices to succeed him, until September, when Putin surprised everyone by dismissing Prime Minister Mikhail ±radkov and appointing in his stead the obscure director of the ±ederal ±inancial Monitoring Service, Viktor Zubkov. It was not clear that Mr. Zubkov, who had reached retirement age, was Putin’s
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134 ASIAN SURVEY, VOL. XLVIII, NO. 1, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2008 intended successor; Medvedev and Ivanov still seemed very much in conten- tion. A week after the December 2 Duma elections, Putin announced he would back his loyal protégé Medvedev for the presidency. In Russia’s unique brand of party politics, the pro-Kremlin United Russia, chaired by Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, continued to strengthen its dominant position in the Duma and throughout the regions. For a Just Russia, which had formed in October 2006 with Kremlin support from three smaller parties, also supported the president, but the party’s in±uence weakened through the year as United Russia became Putin’s clear favorite. Putin, who had remained above parties to this point, formally threw his support behind United Russia,
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This note was uploaded on 06/13/2011 for the course POLI 391 taught by Professor Anikin during the Summer '11 term at South Carolina.

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Ziegler_Russia and the CIS in 2007 - RUSSIA AND THE CIS IN...

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