Head Of (The Deep) State

There has been a lot of ink spilled lately about what Vladimir Putin’s decision to form the All-Russian People’s Front means for the country’s political future.

Speaking to “Nezavisimaya gazeta” earlier this week, Igor Bunin, the president of the Center for Political Technologies, argues that it is a sure-fire sign that Putin intends to return to the presidency:

According to Bunin, if United Russia manages in December to win the same two-thirds “constitutional” majority it won in the 2007 State Duma elections, Putin’s return to the Kremlin is all but a sure thing:

I agree with Bunin that the results of this December’s elections will be a key indicator about who will occupy the Kremlin after 2012. But I draw the opposite conclusion.

If Putin controls the People’s Front (and is there any doubt that he will?) and is crowned “national leader” (again!) and United Russia maintains a “constitutional majority” in the Duma, then this makes it all the more likely that Putin will feel comfortable allowing Medvedev to stay in the Kremlin.

In a two consecutive columns in “The Moscow Times,” political analyst Vladimir Frolov, president of the LEFF Group, makes the case.

In a May 10 column, Frolov argues that a supermajority in the Duma is one of the keys to Putin maintaining control of the country while surrendering the presidency:

Another key, Frolov wrote in a May 23 column, is to find a post that Putin can occupy that affords him sufficient prestige — and control:

Secretary of the Security Council could conceivably be the perch from which Putin continues to run the country, especially since Medvedev’s decree giving it control over the military and security services. This would formalize the informal control Putin already exercises over these bodies.

As I have blogged before, it actually doesn’t matter that much which post Putin occupies — Prime Minister, speaker of the Duma, General Secretary of United Russia (or the People’s Front). The point is,. as long as Putin controls Russia’s “deep state” — ie, the key figures in the military, law-enforcement, and security services — he will have more power and influence than Medvedev¬† or whoever is the formal head of state.

— Brian Whitmore

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