Russia’s president and prime minister may make public their intentions at ruling party’s congress

MOSCOW, September 2. (Itar-Tass) — Nezavisimaya Gazeta published an article devoted to the plans of the ruling tandem. It cites opinions of experts who do not rule out that President Dmitry Medvedev may announce his intention to take part in the presidential race at a congress of the United Russia party on September 23-24. The president has already agreed to take part in the congress and promised to make a statement.

At first sight, this looks like a routine practice – the head of state had visited similar events of the ruling party earlier, the daily wrote. However, the upcoming congress of United Russia will take place six months ahead of the presidential race and in the run up to the parliamentary campaign. This shoulders special responsibility on the forum’s participants from the upper echelons of power. Experts forecast that the name of a future presidential candidate will be announced at the congress.

Medvedev is satisfied with how his plans set in cooperation with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are implemented: they “are thinking long-term.” The head of state believes that Russia’s political system should be reformed “gradually, but not rigorously.” “It would be not bad to return to the idea” of electing the Federation Council and making the parliamentary investigation “more effective.” However, Medvedev underlined that “this does not mean that we should reject everything we’d done for 10-12 years, but we should make corrections to all institutions of the political system.”

Medvedev’s replies look calm and well-balanced, even slightly vague. However, at least one unexceptional conclusion can be made from them: Medvedev and Putin are in negotiations, the newspaper wrote. For a long time the two leaders even avoided mentioning each other’s name in public statements. This added an element of instability into the country’s political life.

The president of the Foundation for Effective Politics, Gleb Pavlovsky, expressed an opinion that Medvedev may announce his aspirations for the next presidential term. However, the expert noted that the variant of preserving the current structure is weak – under the conditions of the tandem operation the head of state failed to translate into reality his program through the current government to the right degree. “And this happened not because it was an alternative program, but because this mechanism did not work,” he said.

A member of the board of the Institute of Contemporary Development, Boris Makarenko, believes that the impression of commonness and dullness of the president’s statements is deceptive. “Just several years ago all this would sound revolutionarily,” he said. The expert refers to the rumours saying that first, Medvedev will announce his bid for president at the congress of United Russia and second, he will head United Russia. Makarenko did not rule out such developments. “It’s evident that now any statements of Putin and Medvedev should be considered from the point of view of their upcoming announcement of who will be a presidential candidate,” the expert said.

The head of the of the Centre for the Study of the Elite at the Institute of Sociology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Olga Kryshtanovskaya, does not expect the president to announce his bid for president. “Of course, I do not rule out possible surprises. But I forecast no more than 5 percent for such a scenario,” she said expressing confidence that Medvedev and Putin will maintain the intrigue until they make a joint coordinated statement. The expert believes that there is a slight probability of Medvedev’s running in the presidential race. “Otherwise, he would actively engage in the party-building,” she said.

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