The pinnacle of the Wagner mercenary military, Yevgeny Prigozhin, just lately led his forces to seize the navy headquarters within the Russian metropolis of Rostov-on-Don earlier than turning his convoy towards Moscow, solely to abruptly halt the advance. He then reportedly agreed to go to Belarus in trade for all expenses in opposition to him stemming from the riot being dropped. The weird collection of occasions shook Russian strongman Vladimir Putin’s maintain on energy, which is believed to have been weakened by the nation’s barbaric and more and more disastrous invasion of Ukraine.
Right now, Putin stays in energy, however Prigozhin’s aborted coup was a reminder that his reign cannot final eternally. “Here is the underside line: even whether it is now snuffed out, an alternate was allowed to come up,” historian Stephen Kotkin informed International Affairs. Who’re the main options to exchange Putin as president of the Russian Federation?
Medyedev served 4 years as Russia’s president from 2008 to 2012 earlier than stepping apart for Putin as a part of what was later revealed to be a prearranged settlement. The Leningrad native and former regulation professor is probably Putin’s longest-standing ally, and he stepped into the subordinate function of Prime Minister from 2012 to 2020. Now the deputy chairman of the Safety Council of Russia, Medyedev has struck a belligerent tone concerning the warfare in Ukraine. He just lately stated of the Ukraine battle that “this battle will final for a really very long time. For many years, in all probability,” and has threatened a preemptive nuclear strike if Ukraine have been to attempt to purchase its personal nuclear stockpile. Questions, nonetheless, stay about whether or not somebody who has been so subservient to Putin for thus lengthy may take or consolidate energy. The Spectator‘s Mark Galeotti recounts a joke purportedly making the rounds in Moscow, about Medyedev in search of the steering wheel in a automobile and Putin pulling out a distant management from the passenger seat and saying he’ll be the one driving.
Putin’s 60-year-old first deputy chief of employees is a jack-of-all-trades who was most just lately given the job of managing the sham referenda within the areas Russia seized from Ukraine in 2022. Within the Nineties, Kiriyenko was often known as a liberal reformer, a lot in order that then-President Boris Yeltsin made him the nation’s youngest-ever prime minister in 1998. Sadly, Kiriyenko’s tenure coincided with the nation’s worst post-Soviet monetary disaster and he was compelled to step down after 4 months. Throughout his transient flip in workplace, Kiriyenko made the fateful resolution to nominate Putin as the pinnacle of the FSB, the successor establishment to the KGB. As a Putin inner-circler, Kiriyenko would seemingly solely get the highest job if the succession course of was managed by Putin or his allies.
Dyumin, 50, minimize his enamel as Putin’s bodyguard within the Nineties, earlier than rising to play varied roles contained in the Russian state, together with deputy director of the navy intelligence bureau GRU and now governor of Tula Oblast. Dyumin was instrumental in spiriting pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in another country in 2014 after a pro-democracy rebellion in Kyiv, after which served as a particular forces commander within the profitable operation to grab Crimea from Ukraine. As soon as a deputy to Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu, Dyumin has been the topic of in depth rumors in current days that he’ll take his former boss’s place. Dyumin’s rise to energy is emblematic of how Putin operates, figuring out allies after which shuffling them from one place of authority to a different contained in the sprawling Russian state. In 2016 Galeotti described “a creeping course of” by which Putin’s allies, together with bodyguards, “begin getting appointed to key positions.”
The secretary of Russia’s Safety Council, Petrushev is a number one proponent of the concept that there’s a Western conspiracy to weaken or presumably break up the Russian Federation. The 71-year-old has recognized Putin since they labored collectively within the KGB, and was a serious strategist in each the 2014 and 2022 invasions of Ukraine. Final yr Tatiana Stanovaya informed The Washington Submit that “His concepts type the foundations of choices taken by Putin. He is among the few figures Putin listens to.” In a March 2023 interview with Rossiskaya Gazetta, Petrushev stated that “Washington and London are once more conniving with Nazism and fascism. They haven’t any qualms about utilizing Ukraine to set Europe or the whole world ablaze in a perception that they’ll get away with something.” Over the previous yr, Petrushev has traveled broadly in search of to shore up Russia’s diplomatic place, and has performed a essential function in managing the alliance with China. Petrushev’s 45-year-old son Dmitry, presently the agriculture minister, has additionally been a rumored Putin successor.
Russia’s 57-year-old prime minister could be a logical alternative as successor, and never solely as a result of he would turn out to be the interim president ought to Putin step away earlier than his time period ends. An economist by coaching, Mishustin spent a decade as head of the nation’s tax bureau earlier than his appointment as prime minister in 2020. Mishustin has been muted concerning the Ukraine warfare, and centered largely on containing the fallout from Western sanctions positioned on Russia for the reason that February 2022 warfare started, however he was reportedly against Putin’s resolution to invade. Which may make him well-placed to maintain the essential buildings of the Russian authoritarian regime intact whereas making a strategic retreat or deciding on much less favorable phrases than Putin has been keen to countenance.
Given the humiliating trajectory of the Ukraine warfare, Shoigu is an unlikely however not inconceivable alternative to steer Russia. There may be, in fact, Prigozhin himself, though the odd denouement to final weekend’s putsch could have dimmed his star as a lot because it did Putin’s. Moscow’s long-time Mayor Sergei Sobyanan has lengthy been a rumored successor. There may be additionally Dmitry Kozak, a former deputy prime minister and now Kremlin chief of employees who reportedly had labored out an settlement with Ukraine previous to the warfare that Putin rejected. Within the occasion of a full rupture of the regime itself, in fact, the checklist of prospects wouldn’t be restricted to Putin loyalists and different Kremlin insiders. Jailed opposition chief Alexei Navalny could be essentially the most distinguished politician who may search to steer a post-Putin Russia. Putin has had different opposition leaders, like Boris Nemtsov, assassinated, however others, like tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, dwell in exile.