Russians seem resigned to Putin's big return



A few were ecstatic; some were distraught and said they would emigrate. But away from the flag-waving of the United Russia party congress and the hand-wringing of the liberals on Twitter, most Russians simply shrugged at the news that Vladimir Putin is on his way back to the Kremlin.

The tough-talking Prime Minister still enjoys high levels of public support, and the frequency with which he has appeared on television over the past four years means Russians hardly noticed that he had left the top job anyway. For some months, a return has seemed likely, even probable. On Saturday, Mr Putin confirmed this, saying he would stand in March elections, while Dmitry Medvedev would swap places with him and become the next Prime Minister. With presidential terms now at six years, Mr Putin could be in power until 2024.

Russia's only 24-hour news channel, instead of launching into debates about what lay in store for Russia, switched to a programme about cosmonauts just minutes after the Prime Minister had finished his speech. But among the politically active segment of the population, there was nonetheless surprise at what they had been expecting all along, not least at the way Mr Medvedev had capitulated.

Mr Medvedev has said on several occasions that he wanted a second term. He has a decent level of public support, and no major scandals that blot his record. It is a rare sight to see a President in such a position relinquish his post so easily. But then not many Presidents have Vladimir Putin breathing down their necks. It was widely accepted that, if Mr Putin decided on a return, there was nothing that Mr Medvedev could do about it, and his willingness to be a seat-warmer may well have been part of the reason Mr Putin selected him to become president four years ago. "The season of political suicides has reached its culmination," wrote the political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky in Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper yesterday. "The central figure of the last three-and-a-bit years has just thrown himself out of the narrow window of Russian politics. A man we are still supposed to call the President..."

In a further blow to Mr Medvedev, the long-standing Finance Minister, Alexei Kudrin, said he would refuse to serve in a post-election government that had Mr Medvedev as Prime Minister. "I don't see myself in a new government," said Mr Kudrin, who is on a visit to Washington.

"I think that the disagreements I have [with Mr Medvedev] will not allow me to join this government." Mr Kudrin is a long-standing ally of Mr Putin and many had tipped him for the prime-ministerial role himself. Analysts said that it was still possible that announcing Mr Medvedev as the next Prime Minister was a ruse to avoid him being a lame duck for the remaining months of his presidency, and that the real Prime Minister could be someone else, possibly Mr Kudrin.

There has been little public dissent over Mr Putin's decision from top officials, who will now be manoeuvring themselves to make sure they are part of a new Putin administration.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine