I was planning to blog on the Ukrainian elections today (exit polls show a very slim lead for Yulia Timoshenko’s party, but both sides claim victory), but, well, things get in the way.

Like these headlines:

Putin eyes prime minister’s job
Putin Says He Will Run For Parliament

United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya)–the Kremlin-approved dominant political party in Russia–kicked off its election campaign this morning with a party conference. It was widely announced that Putin would attend this meeting, which is not unusual–he has attended past United Russia conferences, though he is not technically a member. The surprise, though, was his announcement that he would top the party list; as a result, he would be entitled to a seat in the Duma (though he may not actually to claim his seat as long as he is a sitting president). He also said that the possibility of becoming prime minister is a “realistic idea” that he has already been thinking about.

I can’t say as I’m shocked to learn that Vladimir Vladimirovich has a plan to keep hold of the center of power in Russia. Although he’s constitutionally limited to two consecutive terms, he’s wildly popular in Russia, and few really expected him to leave political life. The current scenario favored by Kremlin watchers is that Zubkov will run for president, while Putin will take the prime minister’s seat. However, technically, the
prime minister’s powers are significantly less than the president’s. Would Putin be content to play second fiddle? Does he trust Zubkov enough to be mere puppet, even though he would hold the legal reins of power?

We’ll just have to wait and see.

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