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Russia Has a New Leader … and an Old One

March 03, 2008 05:39 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
As expected, Putin's chosen heir Dmitry Medvedev won the Russian presidential elections on Sunday. How much influence Putin will retain is unclear.

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Medvedev received over 70 percent of the vote in the presidential election, slightly less than Putin’s winning percentage in 2004. He will be inaugurated on May 7.

The elections were surrounded by controversy, as critics say opposition candidates were not given equal and fair media access. Some opponents also charge authorities with stuffing ballot boxes “amid numerous other violations,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Medvedev was Putin’s chosen successor, and analysts predict that Putin will continue to exert significant control over the federal government from his new position as prime minister. Some argue that Medvedev’s election is simply a way for Putin to circumvent the two-consecutive-term limit on the presidency.

Vladimir Putin’s new position puts him in charge of the economy but lessens his influence over the armed forces and foreign policy matters.

Despite the limits of Russia’s premiership, David Hearst of The Guardian claims that the “constitution does not prevent Putin from returning for two more terms as president at some future date. So Medvedev is there to keep the seat warm.”

Nevertheless, the prevailing opinion seems to be that of uncertainty. Author Victor Erofeyev epitomizes this viewpoint in The New York Times, writing on Feb. 29 that he had “no answers” for questions about the future of Russia’s government.

Whatever the future holds for Russia’s leadership, it will undoubtedly continue to wield a powerful influence in world affairs. The Washington Post argues that the election should change the West’s foreign policy approach, writing that “the debate in the West is about how to handle this increasingly belligerent police state.”

Headline Links: Medvedev wins, but who holds power?

Opinion: The effects of Medvedev’s election

Is Medvedev Putin’s puppet?
Uncertainty for Russia’s future
The effect on Western foreign policy

Analysis: ‘Russia’s Economy'

Biographies: Putin and Medvedev

Vladimir Putin
Dmitry Medvedev
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