Russians seem resigned to Putin's big return

 

Moscow

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.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

SharePoint Engineer - Bishop's Stortford

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organ...

Planning Manager (Training, Learning and Development) - London

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glob...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a Teaching Assistant...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering