GZERO Media logo

Putin's problem and Russia's future

Putin's problem and Russia's future

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.


The last time Putin faced the constitutional limit of two consecutive presidential terms back in 2008, he simply installed his pal Dmitry Medvedev as president and worked "like a galley slave" for four years as Prime Minister, while keeping all the real power for himself. In 2012, he again became president – one of the things that sparked mass protests that year.

This time, he looks set to make a different plan. Earlier this week, he proposed a constitutional referendum that would bring big changes to Russia's political system by transferring powers from the presidency to the State Duma (Russia's legislature) and "firming up the status" of the State Council, which until now has been a Kremlin advisory body with a vaguely defined purpose.

These proposals immediately set off speculation: would Putin become Prime Minister after 2024 in a system where the Duma holds much more power? Or would he indicate a preferred presidential successor, clip that person's wings, and then head a beefed-up State Council as a kind of "father of the nation" figure, above the quotidian fray of politics?

For now, it's still impossible to know exactly what Putin will do. His style is to keep people off balance until the very last minute (he pulled Medvedev out of a hat almost on the eve of the 2008 presidential election.)

But looking ahead, here's what we can say:

Until 2024: Putin keeps his power and his options wide open to avoid whispers that he's become a lame duck. So long as Russia's power set is uncertain about what happens next, Putin has the initiative.

After 2024: So long as Putin lives, he likely holds onto power. Whether that power comes with an official post doesn't matter. Whatever position he occupies will in practice become the most powerful position in Russia, not because of any laws, but because Putin is the person who holds it.

After that: Putin's a hardy guy, especially for a 67-year-old, but he won't be around forever. What does Russia look like after Putin is truly gone? When systems are built so firmly around one person, the loss of that person creates a fundamental problem. Russia's not there yet, but one day it will be.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

More Show less

For the first time in twenty years, extreme poverty around the world is growing. How does the developing world recover from a pandemic that has brought even the richest nations to their knees? David Malpass, the President of the World Bank, is tasked with answering that question. He joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how his organization is trying to keep the developing world from slipping further into poverty in the wake of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal