• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Guess Who’s Running in 2012: Mr. Putin!

    The appearance of a government-sponsored Putin 2012 cyrillic websites pretty much clinches the major question in Russian politics: Will Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, “National Leader” and the former President of Russia, run for (and, by definition, win) the Russian presidency? There are no “Medvedev 2012″ websites registered so far.

    In addition to Putin’s none-too-subtle references to Franklin Roosevelt’s four terms in office while in Sochi a couple of weeks ago, the appearance of these websites answers the question of who is running for Russia’s presidency: Putin. And no one else. If so, Europe and U.S. reaching out to the placeholder president, Dmitry Medvedev, may have been politically imprudent.

    The Russian Constitution states that a president can hold office for no more than two consecutive terms. Putin, who was president in 2000–2008, and has spent the last two years as a prime minister, has shifted some of the presidential powers to the office of the Prime Minister. Other powers he exercises because of his sheer political clout. His loyal junior ally Mr. Medvedev is handling mostly ceremonial duties and foreign contacts, while Mr. Putin is making all the key decisions.

    Furthermore, under Medvedev, changes to the Constitution have expanded presidential terms to six years, meaning that, if elected in 2012, Putin is likely to rule Russia until 2024.

    Putin recently was in full campaign mode: Russian media interpreted his highly publicized accounts of flying a firefighting aircraft in the pilot’s seat as early campaigning. He also appeared at a biker rally in the Crimea (“The bike is a symbol of freedom,” proclaimed Putin to the roar of approval); and took a long trek through the Russian Far East in a yellow Russian-made Niva car.

    In fact, as this author pointed out a number of times, Putin never relinquished power. He has hinted at his interest in returning to the presidency almost since the beginning of Medvedev’s term. These speculations have been more common and serious recently, with Putin dropping hints at the 2010 Valdai conference in Sochi and during an interview with the Kommersant newspaper in late August. As Time Magazine said, “Putin’s Russia remained Putin’s Russia.”

    For the United States, missing this point was a major foreign policy blunder. The Obama Administration has strongly preferred to deal with President Medvedev, an authoritarian reformer of a more pro-Western persuasion and a known taste for iPads and Twitter, but a man whose political capital is tightly controlled by his mentor and boss, Putin.

    With the New START treaty, nuclear summitry, and the “reset” button being firmly anchored to Medvedev’s fortunes, the Obama Administration convinced itself that there is a real rapprochement between U.S. and Russian governments.

    As we said for a long time , however, it is Mr. Putin—no friend of America—who calls the shots. This assumption may prove to become a bitter disappointment—and a serious foreign policy blunder.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to Guess Who’s Running in 2012: Mr. Putin!

    1. Gary, Tallahassee says:

      Wow. I feel so underprepared and vulnerable. we have an misguided, underperforming president that wasn't even qualified to begin with knocking heads with a 'ruler" who has been in office for 10+ years and is ready to sign up for 12 more. Who's gonna win that one? We have to get some checks balances in place and get this guy outta office pronto. He's no Ronald Reagan, no matter how much he says he is.

    2. Kurwastan, DC says:

      "For the United States, missing this point was a major foreign policy blunder. The Obama Administration has strongly preferred to deal with President Medvedev, an authoritarian reformer of a more pro-Western persuasion and a known taste for iPads and Twitter, but a man whose political capital is tightly controlled by his mentor and boss, Putin."

      This is off-the-cuff analysis that assumes too much.

      So Obama should not follow diplomatic protocol and work directly with Medvedev? How was following protocol a "major" foreign policy blunder? How could this have been done better (aside from "acting tough with Russia")? So, Obama should work directly with Putin, who is now mainly in charge of domestic affairs? How would the US benefit from engaging only with Putin and ignoring Medvedev? Why would it be best to work with Putin the authoritarian than Medvedev the "reformer"?

      Also, according to the AFP, websites were registered for Putin-Tiger.ru and Putin-Beluga.ru. Can we also assume that Putin will run for president the World Wildlife Foundation?

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×