Even although Vladimir Putin was first elected Russia’s president in 2000, he’s at the moment serving his “zero” time period – in response to the legislation that “nullified” his three earlier presidencies and the present one.
The laws, which lets him run for 2 six-year phrases in 2024 and 2030, was symbolically sponsored by lawmaker Valentina Tereshkova, the primary lady to fly to house in 1963.
“Simple folks simply asked me” to submit the invoice, she mentioned, and the State Duma, Russia’s decrease home of parliament dominated by Putin loyalists, adopted it in March 2020.
“’We don’t accept’ must be our only words about the nullification,” opposition chief and anti-corruption crusader Alexey Navalny warned Russians.
Several months later, he barely survived a nerve agent poisoning that he claimed was orchestrated by Putin, and was sentenced to 2 and a half years in jail this February.
Putin remains to be pondering the concept of a “first” – or technically fifth – time period.
“I have not yet decided whether I would run in 2024,” he mentioned in December 2020.
From the daybreak of his presidency, he projected the picture of a teetotal, outdoorsy athlete who dabbles in judo, swims – typically with dolphins – and rides horses, often and famously with out his shirt on.
But on October 7, he’s turning 69 – and plenty of surprise who will succeed him, and when.
Pro-Kremlin observers refuse to even identify his potential successors from among the many present cupboard members.
“Of course, I write about them in classified documents, and many do, but to publicly name them is to pay them lip service,” mentioned analyst Alexey Mukhin, who heads the Center of Political Information, a think-tank in Moscow.
He mentioned that the Kremlin’s listing of potential successors will likely be made public after Putin’s retirement or dying.
“It’s not about Putin, it’s about the people who are interested in keeping the list of these names until Hour X,” he instructed Al Jazeera.
According to Sergei Biziukin, an opposition activist who was compelled out of Russia in 2019 after attempting to run for president, “Putin is suspicious and secretive. Even if he chose someone as a successor, he won’t reveal it ahead of time.”
“Although I doubt that he considers letting the power go while he’s alive. And dictators rarely care about what happens next.”
Under Putin, the Kremlin scrupulously weeds out all charismatic critics.
Threats and stress compelled Garry Kasparov, a former chess champion-turned protest chief, to flee Russia in 2013.
Scandalous novelist Eduard Limonov, who based the banned National Bolshevik occasion, turned a Kremlin loyalist after Crimea’s 2014 annexation that he had been advocating for the reason that Nineties.
Putin’s first prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, who joined forces with liberal democrat Boris Nemtsov, retired from politics after the latter’s contract-style killing in 2015.
Irina Hakamada, a three-time lawmaker who ran in opposition to Putin in 2004, is now a life coach and tv character.
Meanwhile, potential successors from the halls of energy have been demoted to irrelevant sinecures.
When Putin’s second time period led to 2008, he handpicked his longtime subordinate Dmitri Medvedev, a bookish and small-framed lawyer, as a brief successor.
Medvedev initiated cautious reforms whereas Putin served as his “grey cardinal” premiere earlier than being re-elected for the third time in 2012.
He left his seat to Medvedev – till final yr when he dissolved Medvedev’s cupboard and appointed him deputy head of the Security Council, a pasture for relegated has-beens.
And leaders of what critics name the “systemic opposition”, a trio of events whose minority fractions within the Duma are – in response to them – presupposed to create an phantasm of political pluralism, are aged and politically toothless.
Communist Gennady Zyuganov, who took half in each presidential marketing campaign since 1996, is famously uncharismatic – and 77.
Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 75, is an ultra-nationalist whose outlandish populism and eccentricity have for many years resembled these of former US President Donald Trump.
Zhirinovsky is extensively seen as a political clown who lures disgruntled rightists and threatens the West.
The smallest “systemic opposition” occasion, A Just Russia, is led by Sergey Mironov, 69, an ex-geologist who ran for president twice, promising to nationalise the oil business and make corruption equal to treason.
He got here in final each instances.
A hawkish Buddhist
Some observers have put their bets on Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, Russia’s longest-serving cupboard member and its second-most widespread politician after Putin.
Shoigu is a person of startling paradoxes.
His first identify is quintessentially Russian, however he hails from Tuva, an impoverished province of Turkic-speaking Buddhists that borders northwestern China and has a few of Russia’s highest homicide and suicide charges.
Some Tuvan intellectuals even take into account him a reincarnation of Subedei, a Mongol basic whose military laid waste to what’s now Russia and Ukraine eight centuries in the past.
Shoigu began his profession within the early Nineties as head of the emergencies ministry, making it a extremely efficient, militarised construction – and topping all political charts years earlier than Putin turned president.
Considered a liberal democrat till taking up the defence ministry in 2012, Shoigu spearheaded the Kremlin’s greatest breakthroughs – Crimea’s annexation and the saving of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s authorities.
Ahead of the September 19 parliamentary vote, Putin appointed him the poster boy of United Russia, the ruling occasion that has been tanking ignominiously in polls.
The 66-year-old Shoigu is commonly seen on TV fishing and looking with Putin – a symbolic anointment that some say makes him the almost certainly successor.
“He has serious chances, much higher than anyone else for now,” Nikolay Mitrokhin, a researcher with Germany’s Bremen University, instructed Al Jazeera.