Survey: what is behind the rating of Putin’s successors

80-level troll that will make Russian politics more transparent

Survey: what is behind the rating of Putin’s successors Photo: ntv.ru

On 21 August, Mikhail Vinogradov's Petersburg Politics fund published a rating of public people who have chances to become Vladimir Putin's successor as president. As the fund thinks, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is the hot favourite of the successors' race as from August 2017 by estimates of candidacies according to six criteria (publicity, expectations, activity, conflict-free, weak personality and counter campaigns). In descending order, Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin, Governor of Tula Oblast Aleksey Dyumin, Minister of Defence Sergey Shoigu and Chairwoman of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko have been in the top 5. Meanwhile, Vyacheslav Volodin is 9 th, Igor Sechin – 10th, Ramzan Kadyrov – 13th. The appearance of Aleksey Navalny and Mikhail Babich (the 18th and 19th positions respectively) is considered as surprises of the rating.

Rating of ''successors''

person, post, birth year

publicity

expectations

activity

conflict-free

weak personality

counter campaigns

total

1

Medvedev Dmitry, prime minister. 1965

5

5

5

3

3

+

21

2

Sobyanin Sergey, mayor of Moscow. 1958

5

4

5

3

2

+

19

3

Dyumin Aleksey, governor of Tula Oblast. 1972

3

5

2

4

4

18

4

Shoigu Sergey, defence minister. 1955

5

2

4

4

2

+/-

17

5

Matvienko Valentina, Federation Council chairwoman. 1949

5

2

3

4

2

16

6

Kudrin Aleksey, Committee of Civil Initiatives chairman. 1960

4

3

4

2

3

16

7

Kirienko Sergey, first deputy chief of staff of the Presidential Administration. 1962

3

2

3

4

4

16

8

Vayno Anton, chief of staff of the Presidential Administration. 1972

1

4

2

5

4

16

9

Volodin Vyacheslav, State Duma chairman. 1964

5

3

4

2

1

+/-

15

10

Sechin Igor, Rosneft president. 1960

5

3

5

1

1

+

15

11

Manturov Denis, head of Ministry of Industry and Trade. 1969

2

3

3

4

3

15

12

Trutnev Yury, Vice PM, Presidential Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District. 1956

2

3

3

4

3

15

15

Naryshkin Sergey, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service. 1964

2

2

2

5

4

15

13

Kadyrov Ramzan, head of Chechnya. 1976

5

2

5

1

1

+

14

14

Nabiullina Elvira, Central Bank chairwoman. 1963

4

1

3

3

3

+/-

14

16

Golikova Tatiana, head of the Account Chamber of Russia. 1966

3

1

2

4

3

13

17

Chemezov Sergey, Rostec director general. 1952

3

2

2

2

1

10

18

Navalny Aleksey, Anti-Corruption Foundation founder. 1976

3

0

4

1

2

Фоновая

10

19

Babich Mikhail, presidential envoy of the Volga Federal District. 1969

2

1

1

1

2

7

20

Hidden name

0

4

0

Realnoe Vremya asked its experts to comment on how well timed the register of Putin's successors is today and evaluate their positions in it.

  • Konstantin Kalachev

    Konstantin Kalachev political expert, head of Political Expert Group

    Let's speak about whether we can (and whether we should) publish a rating of successors while the ruler is safe and sound and how all this story linked with interests of inter-elite squabbles or whether it is just 15-minute fame of political expert Mikhail Vinogradov.

    Today I discussed this topic with many journalists. There were many different versions about who benefits from it. Nobody wants to believe that Vinogradov could do it just to spread a false story: to give a topic and look how it will descend the mountain augmenting details. Some people notice that one can't be in the top of Yandex without the Administration of the Russian president, others note that pro-Kremlin political experts write about the rating (their reaction is quite negative). Some people ask why some people are on the list while others – aren't.

    Nevertheless, this story is interesting right like an 80-level troll. Here it is interesting to look not at the very report because the criteria and gradation of estimates in it can be questioned. These results can't be verified because it is a very delicate topic where a personal attitude of the first person towards some elite representative, which can't be measured, plays a greater role than anything else.

    In general, it is clear that it is inappropriate to talk about his successor while Putin is alive. For this reason, many people are all at sea now. Some people think this false story means intrigues like ''let's persuade Vladimir Putin to remain'' because Vladimir Putin is taking a pause. ''A big artist means a big pause'', take it as long as you can. Somebody thinks it is an attempt to fill the no-change scenario with an intrigue.

    While I think the very topic is of no interests to the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation and those who deal with Putin's campaign because the discussion of the successor while the ruler is safe and sound weakens the ruler's positions. It reduces the motivation of voters to participate in elections. The topic of life after Putin (and actually the question ''Is there any life after Putin?'' is interesting for many people) seems to be inappropriate 6 months before the elections. It is clear that if it is widely discussed, it will delegitimise the elections and their meaning. So this false story obviously doesn't help increase the turnout.

    But it helps some of the characters of the rating to ''come out of their shell'' – whether they will make a mistake themselves or be framed. For instance, a deputy of the Duma of Tula Oblast made an awkward comment. He said he saw Aleksey Dyumin as president. He took it at face value and started to comment on his presidential perspective without asking Dyumin.

    This rating is good for inter-elite squabbles. In other words, interests really meet there. Vinogradov is good because he can be interpreted endlessly. For instance, is Medvedev's first position in the rating good or bad? From a short-term perspective, it is good – it strengthens his positions, demonstrates that he is still in line, the tandem is somehow conserved. That is to say, his positions of prime minister as strong as positions of United Russia's leader. On the other hand, can we presuppose that the successor can be appointed several years before making a decision, that he will rank first in the rating and this forecast will come true? I think our society is not ready to repeat what already happened. You cannot step into the same river twice. And the first place here is not a demonstration of a high level of claims to the presidency or big chance of getting it. It is rather on the contrary.

    At the same time, the figure of Navalny appears in the rating for a reason. So the authors elegantly give to understand that they presuppose an alternative scenario is possible. In other words, there is a scenario where Putin passes the homeland's throne to the person he chooses himself. And there is an option where the elections take place without his participation and maybe even despite his opinion. Although it is a weird option – it is clear that the presidential elections where Navalny will participate and win in an honest fight are unlikely to happen. But let's insert Navaly to discuss, the topic is good. Or let's insert Babich so that everybody will ask what Babich is doing there. Or let's add Sechin! Yes, it is obvious that Sechin is a serious figure who will continue having a big influence because there are other top figures who are not in the rating.

    That's to say, it is the case when a politician throws a stone to the marsh, the stone flops, makes circles, frogs croak. It is such a good intellectual provocation where not only the author but also many other people are interested in. Journalists are interested because there is not news; some elite representatives are interested because there is an opportunity to explore the topic; even the very president is interested because I will repeat that reactions to the rating including reactions of the heroes of the publication are the most interesting thing here.

  • Abbas Gallyamov

    Abbas Gallyamov political expert

    The most important problem of Russian politics is that it is closed and not transparent. For this reason, any public discussion favours it. Evidence in favour of some person, evidence against him or her – it all needs to become public. Then there is a chance that the opinion of this public will be considered to a certain degree while making a decision on the successor.

    In general, any person from the top 10 can become the successor. Each of them has pros and cons.

  • Andrey Kolyadin

    Andrey Kolyadin political expert

    Everybody perfectly understands that the appearance of a successor needs to be conditioned somehow. Yes, if the head is in hospital and lost consciousness, then there is a foundation to do such research and look for some solutions. Like it was with Yeltsin at one point or Brezhnev who was grabbed by the arm or Chernenko or Andropov who spent half of their life in hospital. But when nobody questions that the current president is in great shape, he is able to work, travels across the country, meet, makes serious statements and plans to participate in the next election campaign (even if he doesn't talk about it, it is obvious), people start to look for a successor to him, it surprises a lot. Because it always weakens the current director. As soon as a successor is looked for, moreover, when he or she is found, the effect of a ''limping duck'' arises. All people rush to the person who will really rule an enterprise, a region or country. This is how it works around the world.

    The search for a successor is also dangerous for the very candidates to this role. Every ''Kremlin tower'' has a person who hopes to continue the road of our head of the country one day. Consequently, as soon as a successor appears and he is not from that ''tower'' that is a candidate for a bright future, he starts to have different problems. Today one of the commentators stated on my Facebook page that a body double is needed just in case who needs to be made public and who will come and ''hold the flag'' if needed. I think it is certainly not for our case. In Russia, people immediately start looking for dirt on all the ''successors'', create problems for them and try to discredit them in the eyes of the superior commander by all means to be able to occupy this glittering place.

    So the discussed topic is absolutely irrational now from all the points of view, any politically oriented person understands it. It seems that the rating is a kind of ''spoof'' like people say today that will have severe consequences for the people who appeared there.

  • Israel Shamir

    Israel Shamir writer, opinion journalist

    I think that Putin will continue – the situation in the world is complicated, and Vladimir Putin is doing an excellent job. And it is Putin appoints other posts including the prime minister. So we don't need to rack our brains at all.

By Rustem Shakirov