Vladimir Putin Hopes to Become Prime Minister - 2007

Vladimir Putin Hopes to Become Prime Minister


2007

President Vladimir Putin has hinted that he hopes to become Russian prime minister, fuelling speculation that he plans to retain power after he steps down as president early next year. Speaking at a congress of the main pro-Kremlin force, United Russia, Mr Putin said that it was "quite realistic" that he could head a future government. "I gratefully accept your proposal to head the United Russia list," he told delegates. "Heading the government is a realistic idea, but it is too early to think about this now." The announcement stunned political observers in Moscow and came after years of speculation about what the Russian leader, who enjoys extraordinarily high domestic popularity ratings, would do after his second presidential term ends next year. Mr Putin added that for him to become prime minister the United Russia party would not only have to win, but there would also have to be a president elected who is an "orderly, capable and effective person." Mr Putin is barred from seeking a third straight term as president but has suggested he would seek to keep a hand on Russia's reins. Such a move would indicate a change in the current structure of Russian politics and diminish the power of the president. Mr Putin's agreement to head his party's electoral list sent an ecstatic cheer though the crowd at the congress, which contains many top officials and dominates the parliament and politics nationwide. The ex-KGB spy would not necessarily take a seat in parliament if elected. Prominent politicians and other figures often are given the top spots in electoral lists to attract votes, but stay out of parliament after elections. The announcement was made on the same day that chess champion-turned-politician Garry Kasparov made a "symbolic" bid for the presidency.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...wrussia201.xml

In other news:

U.S. Journalist Says Russia's Lavrov Outplays Condoleezza Rice


A Washington Post journalist has said that Russia's foreign minister regularly outmaneuvers U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in talks when it comes to securing foreign policy benefits for Russia. "[Sergei] Lavrov pushes her buttons," Glenn Kessler said Thursday night at the presentation of his new book, "The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of Bush Legacy." In his book, Kessler writes: "Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who honed his negotiating skills during a 10-year stint as Russia's UN ambassador, is a proud and frequently effective diplomat - a showman who doesn't hesitate to use a diplomatic stiletto." The journalist, who has accompanied Rice many times on international flights and has covered most of her foreign visits, says: "But Rice came to appreciate Lavrov's straightforward and serious approach. She concluded that if he says he will do something, he will - and if he says he will not do it, he won't." "Diplomats said Lavrov has perfected the art of irritating Rice - so much so that she often responds in a very sharp, acerbic, and even emotional way. Rice's reaction is so shrill that she begins to lose her natural allies in the room, in contrast to the calmer and more menacing Lavrov. He frequently exploits that dynamic to his advantage," Kessler said in the book.

Kessler has interviewed many U.S. and foreign diplomats for his book and has had his observations confirmed by a variety of sources, in particular by former French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy. At the presentation, Kessler said that despite her knowledge of Russian language and history, Rice is not very good in her work with Russia. "While Rice had trained as a Soviet specialist and still practices Russian once a week with a State Department interpreter, Russian diplomats are privately contemptuous of her knowledge of contemporary Russia, believing she is stuck in a time warp and doesn't understand the country." Kessler writes about some little known facts, such as a conversation during a closed meeting between Rice and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "In their private meeting, Merkel, a fluent Russian speaker who had trained as a physical chemist in the former East Germany, teasingly tested Rice's rusty Russian," he writes, citing Wolfgang Ischinger, Germany's ambassador to London who formerly was Germany's ambassador to the U.S. Kessler said that his biographic book on Rice gives an unbiased picture of the pluses and minuses in the work of the U.S. Secretary of State, but admitted that certain conclusions could be unpleasant for the presidential administration. "Rice fundamentally lacks a strategic vision. Her approach has been largely tactical, a series of ad hoc efforts designed to deal with an unfolding series of crises that itemed from decisions she had helped make in the first term [of President George Bush]." "...she is the confidante of a president widely considered a failure... Rice has failed to provide him with a coherent foreign policy vision," he writes.

Kessler said that Rice still has close contact with Bush, with whom she regularly meets and whom she sends personal notes on foreign policy. He cites her answer to critics: "I'm enough of an historian to know that my reputation will be what my 'reputation' is. It might be different in five months from five years to fifty years, and so I'm simply not going to worry about that." "On a personal level, Rice is an exceedingly friendly and gracious individual - even to reporters whose articles have displeased her," Kessler writes, adding that "these qualities, apparent to the general public, would make her a formidable political candidate." "One of her advisors, in fact, believes she is increasingly interested in running for governor of California. Some of Rice's friends harbored the fantasy that Bush, desperate to secure his legacy, would find some medical reason to replace Cheney with Rice, making her the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008." But the journalist stressed in the book and during the presentation that Rice has repeatedly and officially said she is not interested in elections and would like to return to her professorial work at Stanford University. Asked whether Kessler, now The Washington Post's diplomatic correspondent, would still be able to interview Rice and keep accompanying her on her visits, Kessler said he sees no problem.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/world/20070907/77385951.html

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