The Short List

Vladimir Putin threw a curve ball into the “who will be the next Russian President” guessing game. Kommersant reports that he told reports at the G8 Summit that his successor should be “a decent and honest person with a high level of professional qualities and work experience who has proven himself well and positively either in a region or at the federal level,” adding that that person might be “some governor.” Putin’s comments prompted the business daily to run an article titled “75 Successors to Many.”

I love how any illusion that the Russian Presidential election will be democratic is completely thrown out the window. Yes the election will resemble democracy in the sense that people will vote and that the majority of people might honestly vote for who Putin picks. Putin has the credibility and any formally named successor will immediately be the front runner. But no one is under the illusion that the next President will be handpicked.

But now, Kommersant wonders, who will that be? Thankfully in addition to Putin’s, they’ve provided a few criteria:

1. He will be Russian. Putin successor will have an -nin or an -ov at the end of his name. If he doesn’t at least sound and look Russian, he’s probably out.

2. Veteran governors are out. No one who came to power under Yeltsin. Experience doesn’t leave much room for cultivation and exercising influence. Plus their loyalties might lie elsewhere.

3. If a novik is the man, then he must be loyal to the president and his circle. And while all current governors show their loyalty to Putin regardless of political affiliation, its a good bet that the choice will most likely come from United Russia.

When all the above criteria are applied, Kommersant is left with 10 possible governors plus three recent governors who now have other jobs (Vladimir Yakovlev, former governor of St. Petersburg, now works in the Ministry of Regional Development; former governor of Perm, Yury Trutnev, who became minister of natural resources; and Sergey Sobyanin, former governor of Tyumen and now chief of the presidential executive staff.).

Here is Kommersant‘s short list (minus the above three):

Alexander Tkachev (Krasnodar Territory)
Valentine Matvienko (St. Petersburg)
Alexander Khloponin (Krasnoyarsk Territory)
Dmitry Zelenin (Tver Region)
Vyacheslav Shtyrov (Sakha Yakutia)
Sergey Morozov (Ulyanovsk Region)
Viktor Maslov (Smolensk Region)
Vladimir Kulakov (Voronezh Region)
Nikolay Denin (Bryansk Region)
Nikolay Shaklein (Kirov Region)

Putin is just screwing us. It’s probably going to be Sergei Ivanov anyway.