Putin's successor? Russia tipped for 'same elites' after President's demise


    Saturday, October 8, saw Vladimir Putin face a humiliating blow after an explosion damaged the Kerch Bridge between Russia and Crimea. It is also a blow to Russian morale, not only because the bridge was the only direct link between Russia and Crimea to supply Putin’s southern army in Ukraine, but also because there are reports that Crimean residents are now isolated and panic buying. Putin is thought to be losing the backing of even pro-Kremlin elites surrounding him as defeats mount with some questioning how long he will remain in power.

    Sources have said there is growing discontent amongst those in the Kremlin. According to Meduza magazine – which is banned in Russia – sources close to the Russian government said while those around the 70-year-old are terrified of him “they have not had respect for [Putin] for two or three years now”. 

    Although Putin signed a law that could allow him to remain in office until 2036, there are those in the Kremlin who are already discussing who might come next. 

    Alexander Vindman, former director of European Affairs at the US National Security Council, was asked whether Putin’s successor is currently being groomed. 

    Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Putin podcast, aired in April, he said Putin will be replaced by the same kind of Russian elites currently governing the country. 

    Mr Vindman said: “I don’t think [Putin] could be influenced, but I think he could be pressured. He’s not likely to listen to kind of logic and persuasion, but the effects of sanctions are intended to apply pressure. 

    “And not immediate pressure, pressure to build over the course of weeks and months… Those [economic] sanctions are going to create a fair bit of upheaval, especially when security services don’t enjoy the benefit that they had. These are the things that are going to start to percolate up into pressure on Putin, and pressure on alternatives to Putin. 

    “I fear that there’s a reasonable possibility that in the next couple of years, Putin is no longer in power, but it’s the same kind of elites that step in and fill that role. But it is really uncertain, what kind of successor you have as an alternative to Putin and Putinism.”

    READ MORE: Putin’s strange fear over owning a smartphone that ‘always rings’

    Patrushev, like Putin, was formerly an intelligence officer and was the director of the Federal Security Service for almost a decade. 

    But a source told Meduza Kremlin officials are also considering the mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, as well as former President Dmitry Medvedev and first deputy chief of staff, Sergey Kiriyenko. 

    Kiriyenko has been described as one of Putin’s “inner circle”. One source, explaining what it meant to be one of Putin’s chosen few, said: “[This group] now includes those participating in the operation — the ones leading the troops and dealing with the Donbas. The president is at war. These are the people who can cross the ‘red line,’ meaning they can wake the president with a phone call.”


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