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8 May, 2008 06:47

Russian power-split uncertainty

Now that Vladimir Putin is Prime Minister, the spotlight is on how power will be distributed between him and President Medvedev. That’s despite Putin and Medvedev saying they are determined to stick to the Constitution.

With all the intrigue about what a powerful prime minister could mean, it may take Russians a while to get used to the new arrangements.

But Dmitry Medvedev himself sought to set the record straight on the day he was elected. When asked if Putin would keep his office in the Kremlin Medevedev replied that the Prime Minister has and always will work from the White House.
A month ago Putin was once again asked who would represent Russia at the G8 this year.

“In accordance with the constitution of the Russian Federation foreign policy is decided by the government and the newly elected President Dmitry Medvedev will attend all high level forums including the G8 summit,” Putin responded back then.

Former US Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger explains why the world is finding it so hard to believe Putin will only be Prime Minister.

“Many people in the West think this is just a way for Putin to stay in unrestricted power. My answer to that is if he wanted to he could have amended the constitution very easily. I could imagine that two or three years from now people will say it was a new elegant way of changing power, it’s very possible,” Dr. Kissinger said.
Analysts agree that it’s likely the arrangement won’t be permanent.
“It is good enough for the continuity of the regime and to provide for succession of power. It is good enough for the new president to get used to leading the country and to acquire leadership skills and at some point it will have to change,” believes political analyst, Boris Makarenko.

Russian Constitution

According to the constitution the President has executive power, determines foreign policy, is the commander-in-chief, and upholds the constitution.

While the Prime Minister answers to the President, heads the Cabinet, controls the budget, and determines domestic affairs.