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Behind the Scenes Campaigning in Russia

Today the Wall Street Journal reports on the behind the-scenes moves by Russia’s next presidential hopefuls. succession.gif Excerpts:

“Russia has no system of deciding who will be the next president,” said Grigory Yavlinsky, head of the opposition Yabloko political party and a former presidential candidate. As elections approach “there will be lots of instability and terrible nervousness.” The recent murders of Kremlin critics — journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow and former security agent Alexander Litvinenko in London — are seen as evidence of a fight among Kremlin clans. Mr. Putin’s critics have blamed the Kremlin for both deaths. Russian officials heatedly deny that and suggest the murders were arranged by Mr. Putin’s opponents to tarnish Russia’s reputation. Practically every political development is interpreted for what it might say about the hidden race. Mr. Ivanov, for instance, wound up on the defensive last year after the brutal hazing of a military-academy recruit got heavy media coverage. Then a wave of corruption charges at the Health Ministry looked to many analysts like a campaign to discredit Mr. Medvedev. Some of the speculation is even more extreme. Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst and onetime Kremlin adviser, believes Mr. Litvinenko’s poisoning has given an edge to Mr. Medvedev’s supporters because it has discredited Russian security services. The radioactive poison used to kill Mr. Litvinenko was spread through restaurants and hotels in London, and the incident has badly strained relations with Britain.

Complete article here (subscription required).