The following is an excerpt from Nick Robins-Early | March 17, 2018 | Huffingtonpost.com |
Russia’s election on Sunday is a mere formality, lacking any serious challengers and guaranteed to hand President Vladimir Putin a fourth term in office. The real intrigue is not the race itself, but what happens after.
The Russian Constitution bars Putin from running again in 2024, and this year’s vote is a starting gun for the country’s powerful officials and oligarchs to jockey for position ahead of an uncertain future.
The leading figures in Russia’s behind-the-scenes power struggles include longtime Putin associates and top government figures, a rising group of young technocrats and a powerful security service. These factions have been increasingly, openly at odds as anticipation grows over who Putin will include in his new government and who will hold influence outside of it.
“After March 18, Putin has to appoint a new government and he has to start thinking about his last presidential term. He has to start thinking about some kind of mechanism to remain in power, transfer to a successor or change the system,” explained Mikhail Zygar, a Russian journalist and author of a book on Putin’s inner circle.
“That’s the mystery for everyone. Everyone is very scared because they don’t know what surprise he is preparing.”
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