Vladimir Putin and the four people who could become Russian President | World | News

Vladimir Putin has been tipped to be already testing his close circle to find a successor and secure his “tsarist-like legacy”.

Following the landslide victory at the controversial presidential election held in Russia in March, Putin has secured his position until at least 2030.

But, as he is moving “into his tsarist phase”, the Russian president is likely managing the prospect – and threats – of his succession carefully, according to foreign affairs specialist and author Dr Fiona Hill.

Appearing on the BBC podcast Ukrainecast, the expert said: “As Putin moves into his tzarist phase, which he has been doing for quite some time, we also have to remember that the history of imperial Russia was replete with assassinations and mysterious deaths and all kinds of setbacks.

“And many of the tsars that Putin lauds were themselves kind of embroiled in all kinds of palace intrigues. And that’s what we are looking at, all kinds of palace intrigues, efforts to perhaps test one successor after another, one heir after another, we don’t know how this is all going to play out.

“There probably [are] plenty of people who would love to get into Putin’s position as soon as possible, he has to manage that very carefully, because he himself is also thinking about that question.

“Every day I am sure he gets up thinking, ‘Is someone out to get me?’ and you can always be sure in the kind of system that he has created the answer would be yes.”

Referring to the Wagner Group‘s insurrection in June last year, led by warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, she said: “And he is moving people around trying to keep people close, trying to figure out who he needs to get rid of all the time, and we saw that in the wake of the Prigozhin insurgency.”

Dr Hill, the current Chancellor of Durham University, does not believe Putin will keep the power within his family, as she said: “Is not going to be his daughters or any of his other children that people have speculated about or his cousins or other family members, although they have been well and truly taken care of and enriched within the system.”

Dr Hill argued Putin’s successor may come from the State Council, an advisory body to the Russian head of state.

One figure has recently joined it as its secretary – Alexei Dyumin. This appointment, as noted by Dr Hill, has stoked speculation he may be preparing to become the next Russian president.

She said: “There are people now, like Alexei Dyumin, who was a member of Putin’s security entourage and is now in the State Council. People are speculating that the State Council, which is a very vaguely defined body, may become the source of succession for Putin.”

Another prominent figure within the Russian echelons of power who has in the past been tipped as a possible successor of Putin is Mikhail Mishustin.

As the prime minister of Russia, Mishustin would be a logical choice as successor, given in his position he would become interim president should Putin step down before the end of his term. However, reports he opposed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine may hinder his chances.

Nikolai Petrushev is seen as one of the most powerful people in Russia and has worked with Putin since their years in the KGB. As the secretary of Russia‘s Security Council, he reportedly is one of the few people the Russian president listens to.

Petrushev, a major strategist in the invasion of Ukraine, is vocal in his anti-Western propaganda, and has accused the UK and US of “conniving with Nazism and fascism”.

Another politician close to Putin who has been tipped as his possible successor is Sergei Kiriyenko, currently serving as deputy chief of staff of the Russian presidential administration.

Kiriyenko rose to prominence in the early 1990s as a pro-Western politician and was appointed prime minister in 1998. His time in office was cut short by the country’s worst post-Soviet financial crisis, but lasted long enough for him to appoint Putin as head of the Russian security agency, FSB.

Kiriyenko is now part of Putin’s close circle and over the past two years has acted as an unofficial envoy to the Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine, a role including inspecting the damage made by Ukrainian forces to Kerch Bridge in Crimea and overseeing the sham referenda in September 2022.

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