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Who comes after Vladimir Putin?

Any takers? Credit: Getty

March 17, 2024 - 8:00am

Stalin’s maxim that “those who vote decide nothing and those who count the vote decide everything” holds as true as ever in Russia. Given his control over the media, ruthless elimination of political opponents and the lack of vigour displayed by the carefully chosen “competitors”, Vladimir Putin is all but certain to win a fifth presidential term in this weekend’s election, keeping him in office until at least 2030.

Following constitutional changes, he could then potentially run again and remain in power until 2036, surpassing Stalin’s record. Were that to occur, Putin would be 84 years of age, raising the inevitable question of who will eventually succeed him after his death or retirement.

It is unsurprising that Russia’s leader does not discuss any succession plans, allowing him to retain the fealty of several eager hopefuls jostling for his favour. Indeed, any clear indications of a future heir would not only create ill feeling but also render Putin irrelevant as the focus switches to the new tsar. Still, a number of candidates have already emerged as potential successors.

Alexei Dyumin

One rising star is the 51-year-old Governor of Tula, Alexei Dyumin. Putin’s ex-bodyguard has amply demonstrated his loyalty, having even — he claims — saved the President from a bear. His service to Putin did not end there. As head of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces, he oversaw the evacuation of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and received the Hero of Russia medal for his key role in the annexation of Crimea.

In what was no doubt a reward, Putin appointed Dyumin to his present role in 2016, where he has been re-elected and remained useful to the leadership. It was, after all, in Tula that Wagner warlord Yevgeny Prizohin turned his abortive march on Moscow around, and Dyumin reportedly led the negotiations.

Sergei Kiriyenko

First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration, this loyal technocrat has overseen the administration of the Russian-occupied annexed territories of Ukraine, earning him the nickname “Viceroy of the Donbas” and daily access to Putin. Kiriyenko has further shown his loyalty by enthusiastically parroting Putin’s lines on the “denazification” of Ukraine and, while he has not yet demonstrated clear ambitions for the leadership, he may have something to prove.

Made prime minister by Boris Yeltsin in 1998, the shock appointment of the inexperienced 35-year-old led to him being dubbed “Kinder Surprise” — a moniker he has been eager to shake off ever since. He resigned just five months into the role after the government defaulted on its debt.

Nikolai Patrushev

As Secretary of Russia’s Security Council and former head of the FSB, the highly influential ex-spy chief is one of Putin’s closest advisors and one of the few voices with the ear of Russia’s President. Ex-MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove has identified Patrushev as the most likely person to replace Putin, while a Wall Street Journal investigation indicated that he was the organiser of Prigozhin’s death.

Known for his hawkish stance, the hardliner has described the Ukraine war as “a military confrontation between Russia and Nato” and accused the West of trying to “erase (Russia) from the political map”. A year older than Putin, his advanced years may count against him.

Sergei Sobyanin

A political insider, Sobyanin’s role as mayor of Moscow has made him a recognisable figure and allowed him to successfully build a public profile. He has won plaudits from the Kremlin for his work managing the capital’s makeover and gained the support of conservatives, having repeatedly refused to permit LGBT+ parades in the city.

When he does depart the Kremlin, Putin will have left a deep impression on Russian politics. The men likely to succeed him have attained their positions through patronage, fealty, corruption and a willingness to follow their leader, even when he takes the country into war. None are therefore likely to represent true change or any ideological shift. Putin may die, but Putinism will be harder to kill.


Bethany Elliott is a writer specialising in Russia and Eastern Europe.

BethanyAElliott

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Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
4 months ago

Indeed, just as voting in the West produces absolutely no meaningful change whatsoever…different label on the can, same product inside…same tune played by the MSM…same few rich getting richer, whilst the general populace pays and gets less for it…
“They looked from the pigs to the men…..”…
Meanwhile Oceania, having been friends with Eastasia is now effectively at war with it…and Eurasia. I don’t see Airstrip One benefiting…
Orwell was a prophet of rare foresight.

Paul T
Paul T
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

In the last couple of decades capitalism has lifted more people than ever out of poverty. Your empty nihilism is pointless. Find a new tune or keep it to yourself.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

I have not attacked Capitalism at all. And clearly you dislike free speech or a free society, both of which I support and wish we had them.

N Satori
N Satori
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Just as voting fails to produce the hoped for changes so rage against the pigs will not help much either. The great revolutionary delusion: overthrow the established powers and the new better and freer world dreamed of by the rebels will inevitably follow.

Perhaps the world would be a better place if there were a worldwide taboo on Marxism and its pernicious offshoots.

Arthur King
Arthur King
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Cynical nonsense. People are choosing far right parties and we will be much more prosperous once mass immigration from low functioning areas is reversed.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
4 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

What the people “choose” is irrelevant; there will be a change of leader/ party. There will be no change of policy allowed.

Arthur King
Arthur King
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Then that will necessitate a revolution.you

Peter B
Peter B
4 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

And your point is what exactly ?
How does this comment relate to the article ?

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
4 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

My point is exactly that made by the article, which states that little will change in Russia.

I point out that the same situation applies in “the West”.

George K
George K
4 months ago

The writer lost credibility with lack the basic knowledge that Putin is only 71 years old and in 6 years( next elections) he will still be younger than current American candidates. Also he’s in a visibly better physical shape than both of them combined

Rob N
Rob N
4 months ago
Reply to  George K

He said Putin will be 84 in 2036 which is, more or less, what you say.

Jake Raven
Jake Raven
4 months ago

A pointless article, come back after Putin’s been ousted or dead.

Arthur King
Arthur King
4 months ago

The real death is Russia demographically. It also faces the loss of oil revenues once fusion power becomes viable.

Peter B
Peter B
4 months ago

Chaos. Obviously.
When you create a system devoted to the service and preservation of a single individual (Putin) that necessitates constant divide and rule and ensuring direct reports are never too competent or popular to be a threat – well, succession planning becomes impossible.

Matthew Powell
Matthew Powell
4 months ago

The question is not who comes next but how it will be decided.

Martin M
Martin M
4 months ago

Nobody there that looks like they would turn Russia into a civilised country if they took over.

0 0
0 0
4 months ago

Regardless who comes after him, nothing is likely to change in the long run.

B. Timothy S.
B. Timothy S.
4 months ago

Grand Duke George Mikhailovich Romanov!
Listen to Dugin, and do it!