Monday, April 07, 2008


By Steven Eke - BBC Russian affairs analyst.

President Putin enjoys huge popularity among Russians, polls show.The future shape of Russia's leadership has become clearer, with the near certainty that President Vladimir Putin will become prime minister on 8 May.
That will be the day after Mr Putin hands over the presidency to Dmitry Medvedev, who was elected last month.
In addition, the current head of United Russia, the largest political party, has said he will propose Mr Putin takes over the party's leadership.
United Russia controls two-thirds of the seats in parliament.
The party exerts enormous influence on many spheres of Russian life, through its administrative and financial means.
Mr Putin has served eight years as Russia's president, but looks set to remain the predominant political figure in the country.
The current leader of United Russia - Boris Gryzlov - says the plan will ensure the executive and legislative branches of power in Russia work together harmoniously.
In reality, it looks like the fleshing out of the role of "national leader" for Vladimir Putin.
Mr Putin's allies proposed this new role, which is not enshrined in the constitution, before the presidential elections. It looks like being anything but a symbolic position.
Some opposition members say the prospect of this taking place with virtually no parliamentary debate again confirms their fears for Russian democracy. But the Putin-Medvedev alliance looks solid.
As if to reinforce the aura of unassailability, shortly after they take their new jobs, both men will appear on the tribune on Red Square on 9 May to watch the Victory Day parade.
Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, the authorities this year are planning a serious demonstration of might, including - for the first time in more than a decade - mobile nuclear missile launchers, tanks and heavy weaponry.



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