''In 2024, Putin will leave with 100 per cent probability. But before that, he will be the president — with any rating''

A political forecast from Leonid Radzikhovsky. Part 1

Realnoe Vremya continues to acquaint its readers with the forecasts for the coming year 2019. Today, journalist Leonid Radzikhovsky shares his expectations of the Russian political agenda for the coming months (somewhere — for the coming years). In which case the rating of the president of the Russian Federation may decrease and more – read in the interview with the expert.

''Putin at any moment can topple the government, which no one really needs and which represents no one''

Mr. Radzikhovsky, how seriously can we assess the trust to the government of Russia rating recently published by Levada-Center? Let me remind you that 53 per cent of the respondents do not trust Medvedev's Cabinet of Ministers.

I do not know the figures of such ratings in Europe, but I think they are almost the same. This means that the credibility ratings are quite acceptable for the government. But the main thing is not that — they do not trust, so what? The same important elections to the Duma, as you know, are to be only in 2021, but how can they be called elections? And Russia is not a parliamentary, but a presidential state, but more importantly: Russia is not a parliamentary or presidential state. Russia is a police state. I do not evaluate the concept of ''police state'' — either negative or positive — it is just the statement of the fact that the state is governed by an administrative machine, but in the part in which it is confronted by people, it becomes a police machine, a machine for order control.

Therefore, whether the rating of the government is high or low — it does not matter, the government does not depend on it. I do not remember what was the rating by the middle of the 2000s of the Kasyanov's government, but Putin toppled Kasyanov, and Fradkov was appointed instead of him. Besides, he was appointed with the words: ''I want to appoint as the prime minister the person whom all of you perfectly know… Fradkov Mikhail Efimovich''. But nobody knew Fradkov at this time! The rating does not affect the government in any way — it affects the mood of people, but it does not say anything more.

Putin's rating is declining – is there no threat for the government and for Prime Minister Medvedev as well?

Putin, as I have said, can at any moment to topple this unfortunate government, which no one really needs and which represents no one. There is not even a political party behind the government: for some reason Medvedev is considered to be the chairman of the United Russia party, but this has the same relation as the members of this party do. Because it is not a party but a random convention of random officials who for some reason have a piece of paper called the party membership card.

''At the moment, the president's rating is not decreasing catastrophically — it has dropped a little, but still remains at the level, and if Putin does not take absolutely insane steps — for example, he gives the Kuril Islands to the Japanese, his rating will gradually decrease as the level of consumption among people will fall.'' Photo: kremlin.ru

If Putin's rating declines rapidly, and Putin even begins to do stupidity after stupidity, no rating, even catastrophically falling, will not be important for him because there exists no legitimate way to overthrow Putin. The presidential election is to be held only in 2024, and in 2024 Putin will leave with a 100 per cent probability. Until then, he'll be the president with any rating. But psychologically, for Putin, as a person who is accustomed to be loved, low ratings are an extremely unpleasant and painful thing, and in this situation, by jettisoning ballast from a sinking ship, he can really topple this unwise government. But at the moment, the president's rating is not decreasing catastrophically — it has stopped a little, but it still remains at the previous level. Only if Putin does not take absolutely insane steps — for example, he gives the Kuril Islands away to the Japanese, his rating will gradually decrease insofar as the level of consumption of people will decrease. But the main thing is that legally ratings in Russia – either of the president or of the prime minister — have no value. Yeltsin's second term was hated by the whole country, but he peacefully continued to rule lying in a hospital. Putin in 2024 will leave — not to the State Council, not as the leader of any party. He will do it for a simple reason — anyone who watches Mr. Putin understands that he can no longer physically and psychologically fully perform his duties: Putin has absolutely nothing to say to people, he has no projects for the development of the country, he does not see any light at the end of the corridor, he is exhausted and broke. Of course, I can't prove this — I am expressing my subjective point of view.

''If the president appoints a successor now, he will not even become a 'lame duck', but a living corpse''

Political scientists Pavlovsky and Solovey argue that the transit of power has already begun.

These people always talk about it, so what? Can their talks be considered to be the transit of power? In my opinion, no, because there is no real transit of power. What they mean by transit now — I can't understand. For example, in 1999 it was clear what the transit of power was taking place — Yeltsin appointed Putin as the prime minister and said that he would run for presidency. But what is now meant by ''the transit of power''? Maybe that Putin is considering possible candidates for successors? That's possible. But I'm not familiar with Putin, unlike those political scientists, he does not consult me about of a successor.

I can only say the following: formally, the transit will take place according to the Yeltsin scenario a few months before Putin's retirement. Why just a few months? Because if Putin appoint a successor now, as the same Merkel, who has already announced the successor and she has already headed the party, Putin will become in this case not even in a 'lame duck', but a living corpse. Why? Because in Russia there is a different system of power, and everything is tied to the president, and if the president's successor is announced, then everyone will start to rush from the president to the successor and think how to get linked to him, how to transfer all flows and appointments to him. That is, it will begin not the transit of power, but its collapse, and these are completely different mechanisms. Therefore, from the point of view of elementary controllability, Putin has no other options — he has to rule until the last, and in a few months, like 'jack-in-the-box', a quite unexpected successor should appear. Otherwise, again, there will be dual power. But this is not the dual power of the 'Medvedev-Putin' times, but the dual power with the most weakened Putin, with a rapidly rising successor, the dual power where all rats run from one side to another. Such a dual power for several years can finally turn the ship.

Thus, the transit of power may be in the mind of Putin, but cannot be externally.

''From the point of view of elementary controllability, Putin has no other options — he has to rule until the last, and in a few months, like 'jack-in-the-box', a quite unexpected successor should appear.'' Photo: kremlin.ru

What do you think is happening now in our elite, for which the times are not easy? Are they nervous?

It is difficult for me to say how psychologically uncomfortable they feel — they obey Putin automatically, without discussion — both officials and businessmen, and this is a fact. Both officials and businessmen hate Putin — this is also a fact — because of him they are suffering huge inconveniences and losses. Lost money, of course, can be compensated, but the inconvenience cannot be compensated: because of the desire of Putin's 'left foot', they suddenly turned from respected members of the international elite into international outcasts. How will they treat Putin after that? Of course, with hatred. But they cannot show this hatred because it's like death, accordingly, it only remains to obey. Remember when Khodorkovsky was arrested? Putin came to the meeting of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. They differently treated Khodorkovsky, many could not stand him, considered an upstart, too impudent and dangerous, but it was for them the strongest blow as he was a serious businessman. And what was their corporate solidarity? They jumped up and long, tiresome applauded Putin. These people are able to give no other reaction.

Because Putin is unsinkable for them?

There is a category of businessmen, which includes Timchenko, Rotenberg, Kovalchuk — these people just won't survive without Putin: they will be returned where they had been before Putin, and they will be returned quickly. Another category is people who will feel great without any Putin and will breathe a sigh of relief after his resignation: people like Potanin, Alekperov, Deripaska and so on. Well, among the officials there are different people — dollar billionaires, multimillionaires and millionaires, and Putin's resignation for them does not promise any trouble, but promises pleasantness. Therefore, most of them are waiting for Putin's resignation — well, what kind of a stupid person would run from prison two weeks before release? The closer the ''freedom'' is, the more they 'curry favour', because the weakening lion is able to crush many of them with one paw.

Will people calm down in 2019 about the high-profile and unpleasant for them last year's decision to raise the retirement age?

They will not. It is clear that men rarely retire aged 60 years, as well as women aged 55 years if they are healthy. But we are talking about that people receive a salary and a pension at the same time, and now they are deprived of an increase in the form of a pension — will they rejoice or forget? But how can they forget all this if prices are rising and incomes are falling? Now it is a constantly annoying factor, and Putin has crossed out half of his popularity with this decision.

To be continued

By Sergey Kochnev