Vladimir Putin made a jaw-dropping decision yesterday when he dismissed Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and nominated the head of the Russian Financial Monitoring, Viktor Zubkov, for the vacant position. With this decision Putin managed to confuse observers and deviate from the answer to the question of his successor. To put it in a nutshell, Putin has preserved the freedom of political maneuvering, mass media say in their reports regarding the unexpected dismissal of the long-time PM Fradkov.
Viktor Zubkov’s has a trump card to become a popular politician and a successor to Putin’s office in 2008. It goes about Zubkov’s anti-corruption activities. The new appointment equals the chances of all possible presidential nominees, although it adds the new person in their circle. Technically, Viktor Zubkov has all chances to become the next president of Russia, similarly to the chances he had to win the office of the head of the Cabinet.
Newspapers say that the decree to dismiss Mikhail Fradkov and his government was ready to be signed early in the morning yesterday. Kremlin’s officials were certain that Putin would make first Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov the new head of the Russian government, although later events proved it wrong.
News programs on Russia’s central TV channels did not broadcast the meeting between Putin and Zubkov, which may mean that the president made a decision at the last moment. Some sources say that it was an intermediate decision to nominate Viktor Zubkov. Putin decided to act so to ease political tension, pacify elite groups and balance out the forces. Putin will announce his successor at the end of the current year, sources say.
Anti-corruption activities can bring success to any presidential candidate. They could be compared to the Chechen issue, which made Vladimir Putin extremely popular in Russia on the very start of his career in big politics. That is why Viktor Zubkov can be considered both as the prime minister and as a presidential candidate.
Viktor Zubkov is one of the few officials in Russia, who has the maximum access to the information on financial operations and bank accounts of both major business organizations and top officials of the country.
Some specialists say that Zubkov will guarantee stability in the country during the crucial period of 2008, when the nation will have to elect the new president. Zubkov may simply take the new president to power.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
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