It was strange to wait with bated breath for an announcement that was crushingly inevitable, and yet somehow the Kremlin spin machine manages to whip up intrigue about even the most predictable of scenarios. The idea that Vladimir Putin might be running Russia until 2024 feels almost like a fait accompli, though seeing it in print splashed across innumerable newspapers does make it does look spine-chillingly concrete.
Nonetheless the events of the weekend did offer up one actual surprise. Whilst everyone was busy wondering about the Presidency, the position of Prime Minister lingered unobtrusively in the background. That was until Finance Minister and economic liberal Alexei Kudrin stepped in and told everyone that he would not serve in a government led by Putin. Some analysts have suggested that it is Mr Kudrin who is most likely to fill the empty place which Mr Putin will leave. A slew of hints that Kudrin was angling for the PM slot were visible over the course of July, says John Helmer here. So has implicit rivalry between the two men finally exploded? The affable Medvedev has now hit back.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Monday to resign after Kudrin refused to serve in a government that Medvedev is expected to lead next year under a job swap with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
“Such statements appear improper … and can in no way be justified. Nobody has revoked discipline and subordination,” an angry and stern Medvedev told Kudrin at a meeting of officials in the central Russian city of Volgograd
“If, Alexei Leonidovich, you disagree with the course of the president, there is only one course of action and you know it: to resign. This is the proposal I make to you.”
Kudrin, who has earned a reputation as a guarantor of Russia’s economic stability in 11 years as finance minister, said in Washington on Sunday that he would “definitely refuse” to serve in a government headed by Medvedev.
Responding to Medvedev, Kudrin said: “Yes, it is indeed true that I have disagreements with you. I will take a decision on your proposal and will consult with the prime minister (Putin).”