Russia's future uncertain as Putin may consider quitting
Moscow: For a long time, it has seemed that the only person unsure he will run in the presidential elections next March is Vladimir Putin. The people expect it, his opponents are sure of it, his entourage is convinced of it. But Russia's President is delaying.
When Putin chooses to run, he will win, and handsomely. The President remains popular with his base and possesses a well-oiled political machine that, as dependable as the rotation of the sun and the movements of the tide, will deliver a result between 60 per cent and 70 per cent in his favour.
But behind the scenes things are less predictable. From interviews with academics, government and near-government players, some anonymous, The Independent can reveal a picture of intense uncertainty at the heart of power. It is a picture that shows the President's grip on the Kremlin to be as strong as ever — but only because it needs to be.
Vladimir Putin is, sources say, tired. And he is reluctant to engage in a major national election — again. The campaign will be reduced to a bare minimum; there will be no repeat of the exhausting test of the 2011-2012 elections, when Putin declared his candidacy six months early. His decision to swap jobs with Dmitry Medvedev provoked an unexpected wave of protest. By the time of election day, the result was not in question. But Putin invested a lot in winning — emotionally and psychologically.
The absolute deadline for registration depends on whether Putin runs as an independent or on a party platform. But most expect a declaration no earlier than mid-December.