Russia Today: What do you think about Viktor Zubkov being nominated as a candidate for Prime Minister?
Vyacheslav Nikonov: A very interesting choice which shows that, first all, Putin is really nominating people from his very near circle to head the key governmental institutions. Fradkov was not a member of his team. He was close to the President but was not a close friend. I cannot say that about Zubkov, who is. Secondly, Zubkov is known first of all as the person who was responsible for investigating issues related to money-laundering and corruption, which probably means that Putin is paying close attention to cleaning up the house. It might be a very unexpected decision but, at the same time, it has some logic.
RT: Do you think there is any chance that Mr Zubkov could be the successor to President Putin?
V.N.: No, I don’t think so. My reading of the situation is that in the next administration Putin will create a sort of a system of checks and balances between Government institutions. He wants his trusted allies to head those institutions. So Zubkov has very good chances of staying in that position not just till the next Presidential election but also after it.
In fact the theory that Putin will completely repeat the scenario of his own succession, which was implemented by Yeltsin in 1999-2000, I find unrealistic. Putin does not repeat himself and, of course, he would not repeat Boris Yeltsin.
RT: Do you think we are going to see a lot of changes in the new government in terms of people who are staying and who will be out of it?
V.N.: I would not expect a great change, for example, among the Deputy Prime Ministers. I don’t think that Sergey Ivanov or Dmitry Medvedev, or [Sergey] Naryshkin, or [Aleksandr] Zhukov will loose their jobs, they will probably stay. Nor would I expect serious changes in the key ministries, like the Ministry of Finance, for example. I would not expect [Aleksey] Kudrin to leave as he is one of the key figures of the cabinet. As for the other ministers, especially those who were sharply criticised and don't have very good reputations, they may be changed before the Duma and Presidential elections, just to add to the popularity of the ruling party and the next presidential frontrunner.