Pyotr Bystrov: ''Putin will leave at the end of the 2020s''
The famous political analyst tells about a ‘’lowering’’ of Navalny, immutable positions of Medvedev and the correct behaviour model for newcomer governors
A St. Petersburg political analyst, member of the Board of Russian Association of political consultants Pyotr Bystrov in the interview to Realnoe Vremya spoke about the governor's purges, disagreements between ''the towers of Kremlin'' and the concept Politburo 2.0. He also commented on what affects the future of Governor of St. Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko.
Navalny with no reason
Mr. Bystrov, what protest activity do you predict in Russia on 12 June in connection with another action of Alexei Navalny?
Most likely, this event will not be as massive, or I would better say serious, as the rallies and marches on 26 March. The movie He's not Dimon as a reason has already exhausted itself. In order to make the protest grow, or at least maintain at the same level, they need new significant topics and motives, but they do not have them yet.
Video messages of Alisher Usmanov to Navalny – what is it? Was the oligarch ''tricked'' by the agenda of the opposition, as well as, according to a political scientist Oleg Matveychev, Press Secretary of Medvedev Natalya Timakova was?
In my opinion, it is quite a competent tactical move on the part of the consultants working with Medvedev. Some evil tongues call exactly Timakova the author of this video message (although there is no evidence, of course). One can say a lot about the quality of this product, i.e. picture and text, but they are secondary in this case. It is important that technologically it was the right decision, the meaning of which is in ''lowering'' of Navalny. That is, if his main opponent in the discussion about corruption was Medvedev, now it has been shifted into the format of the dialogue Navalny-Usmanov. Then it turns out that the mistake has been made, on the contrary, by Navalny — he was ''tricked'' by the video message, began to answer them, got involved in the dispute. For him, it was more correct to follow the sequence: the main opponent — Medvedev, and that's it. By the way, this is one of the reasons why the events of 12 June can be less widespread. Usmanov is not so important for public opinion figure as Prime Minister. Their level of fame cannot be compared.
Some evil tongues call exactly Timakova the author of this video message (although there is no evidence, of course). Photo: kommersant.ru
How strong are internal tensions within the Russian ruling elite today?
Elite is always heterogeneous. There are always different groups fighting for influence on the head of the state. The expression that the Kremlin has a lot of ''towers'' was born many years ago, not yesterday and not this year. Only characters are changing in these towers, and tactical configuration.
Of course, today there are groups of influence of Medvedev, Volodin, Kiriyenko. But today, there are no signs of a split in the elite: disagreements do not seem insurmountable and they do not leak to the public space. This can happen if there is a question about Putin's successor in the case of leaving from active political life. But it is still to early to talk about this. The president is healthy, full of energy and not going to leave the place that he occupies in the Russian politics to anyone. In my opinion, it will happen in the very distant future, when the balance of forces, and the names may be totally different and unknown today. For example, back in 1996, three years before Yeltsin's resignation, who could imagine that his successor will be the first Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg? His name was not even sounded. It's still more three years before Putin's departure from high politics, which will happen in the 2020s, and maybe even at the end of the 2020s. I think a successor at the moment is still very far from the pedestal of the Russian government.
So you think Putin will retain his influence after the fourth term?
Most likely, yes. If he physically will be able to do it, he will retain the role that it now plays.
You are sure that he will run for president himself in 2018? What do you think about the recent suggestion of Vladimir Zhirinovsky that Putin will be replaced by his protege?
The point is not what post Putin will occupy. The point is in his real influence on events in the country. Putin has already resigned once from the post of president in accordance with the Constitution, he was the head of the government, but this does not mean that he ceased to be really the first person in the political configuration, and everyone knew it. Therefore, even if now happens what Zhirinovsky has said, although I do not think so, it does not reduce its real impact on the Russian policy.
What do you think about the reports of Yevgeny Minchenko' agency Minchenko Consulting about Politburo 2.0?
This is a very good PR move by one of the leading Russian political consultants, allowing him to constantly be in the media spotlight. Moreover, it is quite interesting materials. People write about them and comment on them — it is a sign that the author achieves his goals.
Are the contents of these reports close to the truth?
I would better not to comment on the contents. Every political analyst and political strategist has the right for their point of view. In this case, we are dealing with the point of view of Mr. Minchenko.
''The likelihood that the current Prime Minister is dismissed I assess as close to zero. I see no sign showing his possible apparatus disgrace.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov
Who of the two — Sobyanin and Volodin – has more chance of becoming Prime Minister?
You know, the likelihood that the current Prime Minister is dismissed I assess as close to zero. I see no sign showing his possible apparatus disgrace.
Can the Kremlin take some unconventional political steps to boost turnout in the presidential election?
Hardly they can. The existing level of support for Putin today is enough to solve the tasks of the turnout, as well as the percentage of the vote.
Those who are fundamentally disloyal are very few
How many governors can lose their posts before the presidential election in 2018?
I think that their number is very small. Just because a continuation of arrests and law enforcement actions against governors are fraught with the loss of political control. Nobody will allow this on the eve of the presidential election. Perhaps, in the result of the September election, two or three governors will lose their posts in the regions, where there will be the extremely low figures by, say, voting for the United Russia party. That is, if someone from the governors demonstrates a loss of control over the political situation in the region and makes this ''electoral anomaly'', he is likely be forced to leave.
How does Georgy Poltavchenko feel himself after the scandal with St. Isaac's Cathedral?
The question of the political future of Poltavchenko is not a question of rating, and especially, well-being. This is purely a question of credibility on the part of the president. We all understand that he is included in the inner circle of people with whom Mr Putin has acquainted with for already very many years, with whom he worked in the KGB. I think that Poltavchenko, in any case, will survive in his present position before the presidential election. And after it, most likely, he will not fall out the inner circle, even if he takes other position.
''The question of the political future of Poltavchenko is not a question of rating, and especially, well-being. This is purely a question of credibility on the part of the president.'' Photo: Yevgeny Pavlenko (kommersant.ru)
Do you agree with the editor-in-chief of the journal Expert Valery Fadeyev that the authorities in the regions need to build communication with active citizens, not squeeze them? Even with disloyal citizens.
Well, if not to have a dialogue with the society, for many years not to hear and not to listen to them, people really can become disloyal. Disloyalty is not born out of nowhere. Those who live by the principle of ''Baba Yaga always against'' are very few. There are much more those whom the government is doing disloyal itself, with its own hands.