Transfer of Power
Some more tidbits on Russia.
I read a story the other day by Max Delany in the Moscow Times
on the transfer of power from Vladimir Putin to Dmitry
Medvedev and it’s not real clear cut just how it will take place.
Currently, Medvedev is president-elect and first deputy prime
minister, while Putin remains president until May 7, after which
Putin has said he will become prime minister.
But as Delany reports:
“The constitutional quirks of the interim period mean that, if
things stay as they are, President Medvedev on the day of his
inauguration will have to approve the resignation of First Deputy
Prime Minister Medvedev, along with the rest of the government,
before nominating Putin to be his subordinate.
“Throw into the mix the fact that Medvedev is also currently
chairman of Gazprom, and that suggests he could end up
simultaneously holding the posts of president, first deputy prime
minister and Gazprom chairman.”
The handover of power between presidents is regulated by a bill
drawn up in 1996, but it was never approved by the State Duma.
On New Year’s Eve in 1999, then-Prime Minister Putin was
automatically promoted to the role of acting head of state
following Boris Yeltsin’s resignation before he was directly
elected to the position in March 2000.
Delany adds, though, “Under Article 116 of the Constitution, the
government automatically has to give up its powers when a new
president comes in, so one of the first things Medvedev will have
to do when he assumes the presidency is to sign off on the
dismissal of the Cabinet.”
So Medvedev has to fire himself, or Medvedev could step down
from his deputy prime minister post before May 7. Or, Putin
could replace the Cabinet before the inauguration.
Putin has already been transferring some presidential powers to
Medvedev, such as running State Council meetings.
Meanwhile, over at Gazprom, Delany writes “the transfer of
power for its top post is also proving problematic. Gazprom is
set to elect current Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov as chairman at
its annual general meeting on June 28 – six weeks after
Medvedev becomes president.”
So does Medvedev remain president of Gazprom until June?
Legally, there is nothing to prevent him from doing so.
On a different matter, U.S.-Russian relations, former deputy
national security advisor and U.S. ambassador to India, 2001-
2004, Robert Blackwill (sic), writes in the Jan./Feb. 2008 issue
of The National Interest, there is a fundamental question: “How
important is Russia’s cooperation in the next several years on
issues clearly most connected to American and allied vital
Referring to the recent musings of Henry Kissinger, Blackwill
“The transforming effects of globalism and information
technology, the rise of Asia, the relative decline of Europe’s
international influence, the surge of radical Islam and the
increasing importance of non-state actors are together producing
a new world order/disorder.
“The increase in China’s power and influence is now a
permanent and critical feature of the global picture, and it is still
far from clear whether Beijing will become a responsible
stakeholder in the international system. Relations between China
and Japan are edgy at best. We will have to see whether North
Korea will give up its nuclear weapons. I remain skeptical. The
long-term trends in Afghanistan are not good. Pakistan, with
dozens of nuclear weapons, is vibrating with uncertainty.
“The region that is most immediately pivotal to the security of
the West – the Middle East – is violent and unsteady. A possible
war between the United States and Iran lies ominously on the
horizon .Iraq remains gripped in a destructive and bloody
domestic political deadlock that prevents reconciliation and
stability. Prospects for substantial progress in the Middle East
peace process are grim. Lebanon teeters on the brink of chaos.
Syria pursues corrosive policies throughout the area. Six years
after 9/11, jihadi extremism and the terrorism it spawns are
growing, not receding, in most of the region .
“Many of our friends are confused and demoralized, and most of
our enemies are emboldened – nearly everywhere in the
“All this obviously represents a perilous situation for the United
States and its allies. It is certainly the most hazardous period in
the region for the West at least since the 1973 Yom Kippur War
and the possibility of U.S.-Soviet armed conflict. And it is
exacerbated by the rapid rise of Iran.”
Next time, how the U.S. and Russia could come to blows over