Alexey Nezhivoy, head of the Laboratory for Political and Social Technologies, stated that struggle for becoming Vladimir Putin's successor in the Kremlin is underway.
Vladimir Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly in January triggered a series of political processes in the country. Immediately after his speech, all the members of the Dmitry Medvedev government resigned. After that, under the leadership of Mikhail Mishustin a new government was formed within the shortest time span. Mishustin’s main task was the effective implementation of national projects.
In addition, the drafting of amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation began. In this regard, a national vote was scheduled for April 22, 2020. A bit later, at a meeting of OPEC+, the participating countries failed to agree on limiting the volumes of oil production. As a result, the oil prices plummeted. Then the ruble slid, tumbling to below 80 rubles to the U.S. dollar at a certain moment. At the same time, the coronavirus epidemic came to Russia. It continues aggravating the situation, as it has spread to almost all regions of the country.
Against the backdrop of this situation, the main newsworthy events of the end of last year began to fall into oblivion. At that time, almost everyone predicted scenarios for the shift of power in Russia and proposed their candidates for the position of Vladimir Putin's successor. However, the events of the last few days refreshed those events in our memory. In an analysis of President’s entourage, the @russica2 Telegram channel wrote: “If everything goes as it does now, [Moscow Mayor] Sergei Sobyanin will come out of the epidemiological situation as a fully entitled successor to Vladimir Putin.”
A joint trip by Putin and Sobyanin to the hospital of infectious diseases in Kommunarka, a southwestern suburb of Moscow, became the last drop for the authors of the channel. The President and the Mayor made an impromptu visit to the hospital where people with suspicions for coronavirus are delivered.
Alexey Nezhivoy, head of the Laboratory for Political and Social Technologies, stated that there is a struggle to become Vladimir Putin's successor in the Kremlin.
“In all kinds of ways, the so-called “coronavirus agenda” is highly beneficial from a political point of view,” said Nezhivoy. “A person in charge of it is likely to try on the role of “a savior of the nation.” Vladimir Putin risked his health and went to Kommunarka to tackle the agenda. In addition, he came out of this situation as a winner: when everyone expected quarantine, security checkpoints and armored vehicles, he declared the nationwide “non-working days,” which meant that everyone would have to stay at home. These measures are likely to have a positive effect on his popularity rating in the future.
Regarding Sergei Sobyanin, very serious people are standing behind him. For example, oil producers. Firstly, just note the fact that Nikolai Patrushev [Secretary of the Security Council of Russia], with the security agencies entrusted to him, and Mr. Sechin, the CEO of the Russian oil industry major Rosneft, have disappeared from the radar screen. Secondly, in general, members of the political elite are satisfied with him. However, the political system in Russia is organized in a way that everything is focused on the figure of the President. In this sense, Putin has simply set things back on track.
I believe that Sobyanin will accept this setup. Possibly, he will continue to promulgate his main line waiting for the next opportunity because the coronavirus is unlikely to drop off the agenda. Besides, he will keep working as the head of a work group at the State Council. What happened in Kommunarka repeats the events in the State Duma, when Putin personally came to cancel the early elections. The current situation shows that there is a rather serious struggle among the political elite. It clearly shows that the transit of power is inescapable.
It could therefore be expected that soon there will be someone to take Putin’s place. Chances are that it will be Sergei Sobyanin. It is obvious that Sobyanin is eyeing the role of Putin’s successor. There are trillions of rubles, huge budgets and people of influence behind him. Today, more and more people are making bets on him. Given the current political situation in Russia, it is rather difficult to predict what will happen next.”