Who will keep positions?
The main resource for increasing the influence of Politburo 2.0 participants after the presidential elections is the availability of an understandable project for each member of the country as a whole, or personally for the period of the next term of President Vladimir Putin. It is important to have such projects in conditions of problems with a substantive agenda, the Politburo 2.0 report says: renovation instead of dismantling, prepared by the communication holding Minchenko Consulting. Under the Politburo, which the holding regularly publishes reports, it means an informal group of the most influential officials and businessmen of the country from the environment of the head of state.
The most stable positions as a member of the Politburo 2.0, the authors of the report say, "strangely enough," from the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. He, on the one hand, is the most experienced member of the ruling group, since he holds the post of head of government, and before that he was president. On the other hand, he repeatedly confirmed his loyalty to Putin "and skillfully mastered the stratagem in the style of aikido" to weaken himself in order to survive, "the report says. According to experts, Medvedev has at least three employment options after May 2018: the preservation of the prime minister's position, the transition to Gazprom, and the interception of Igor Sechin's position as the "chief power engineer," the appointment to the post of chairman of the Supreme Court.
The Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also has quite a strong position, and the chances of creating a new superministry under his auspices, the Ministry of Defense plus the Ministry for Emergencies, look serious.
Another member of Politburo 2.0, the head of Rostek, Sergei Chemezov, is increasing its influence "most dynamically" from all the representatives of Putin's inner circle. Strengthening the Chemezov group is one of the risks for it, because "opponents can describe this as excessive and in need of equalization." Nevertheless, the "collective Chemezov", a group of the military-industrial complex, will inevitably be one of the key elite players, experts are sure.
High chances to remain as a member of the "Politburo 2.0" are from the shareholder of the bank "Russia" Yuri Kovalchuk and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin. The capital's mayor, according to the authors of the report, is one of the few members of Putin's inner circle who has an understandable project (renovation) for the entire period of the next presidential term. Sobyanin is the number two contender for the post of prime minister, the report said.
Who will weaken?
Positions of the other three members of the Politburo may be shaken after the presidential elections, the authors of the document predict. We are talking about the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin, the speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin and businessman Arkady Rotenberg - they may have difficulties with the agenda "that they can offer the president." "Sechin, Volodin and Rotenberg are in the transition zone, there is a risk of their weakening. They can go to the status of candidates for membership in the Politburo, "RBC explained the head of" Minchenko Consulting "Yevgeny Minchenko.
"Sechin at first glance is at the peak of its influence," write the experts. However, the "assertive management style" of the head of Rosneft forms against him a broad elite coalition. In particular, the criticism of Sechin is his way out of his own responsibility, the financial results of Rosneft and its costly international projects, the possible negative consequences of the claim against AFK Sistema for the investment climate in the country, the report says. In addition, the arrest of the Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukayev "became an example of violation of unspoken rules of relations." At the same power resource Sechin fell, as several close to him employees of the TFR and the FSB were fired. Therefore, for him, "the challenge is the choice of an intra-elite strategy and, perhaps, the creation of a coalition, to which he was not previously inclined," the authors of the report state.
Rosneft's press secretary Mikhail Leontyev, to whom RBC asked for comments, said that the people who make up such ratings have signs of a "serious mental disorder." "I do not know if Minchenko is upset, but I have a doubt about the adequacy of his prediction. It's megalomania to place people in places: I'll erase this, I'll raise it, but lower it, "said Leontiev RBC. As for Minchenko's reasoning about the reasons for the possible decrease in Sechin's influence after the presidential election, the Rosneft spokesman called them far-fetched. In particular, the thesis about the negative consequences of the suit against AFK Sistema for the investment climate in the country "arouses suspicions of self-interest on the part of the author of the rating." "A person without selfish thoughts and in their right mind can not say this. Hence, he is either mentally upset or self-serving, "Leontiev concluded in a conversation with RBC.
Positions of another member of Poltiburo 2.0, Vyacheslav Volodin, may weaken due to the fact that "the actual merger of all parliamentary parties into a single ruling pro-Putin coalition reduces the influence of leaders of formally opposition parties and the importance of parliament as a platform representing the whole society," experts write. . At the time of delivery of the note, RBC was unable to get a comment from Volodin's representatives.
Finally, the third member of the Politburo, which is at risk, Arkady Rothenberg, who has long been a "communicator with foreign economic elites," may politically weaken for the following reasons. Its entry into sanctions lists, the general cooling in relations between Russia and the West and the "problematic nature of new projects in the east direction create difficulties for the group (Rotenberg) with goal-setting," the report reads. Representative Rotenberg refused to comment on RBC, justifying it by the fact that the businessman is not engaged in politics.
Who will grow stronger
Several candidates for Poltiburo 2.0 have chances to become full members of Putin's inner circle after the elections, the authors of the report believe.
First of all, this is the head of the Kremlin administration Anton Vaino and his first deputy Sergei Kiriyenko. Vaino "becomes one of the most trusted persons of the president and gradually builds up informal influence and hardware experience". Kiriyenko, according to the authors of the report, has a long history of relations with Putin, a reputation as an effective manager and has a good image potential.
Head of Sberbank German Gref, head of the Center for Strategic Research Alexei Kudrin, deputy prime minister, presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, head of the National Guard Viktor Zolotov are also eligible to become full members of the Politburo 2.0. The Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who is the only regional leader who has "an independent power resource and a system of informal economic influence in other regions of Russia," can claim the role of a figure from Putin's inner circle.
Political analyst Alexei Makarkin considers the selection of Politburo 2.0 to be rather arbitrary, and, in his opinion, it is reliable to predict who will leave, and who will remain in the closest circle of Putin is very difficult. "One can remember 2007, when Viktor Zubkov was appointed prime minister, which nobody, even among very informed people, expected," he told RBC. According to Makarkin, Putin will make a decision about who to leave, and who will remain in his closest environment, based on the criteria of the usefulness of this or that person, and in many different directions.
Makarkin does not rule out that, for example, Volodin's influence may increase, since after the elections there will be a need for unpopular reforms, and the parliament will have to communicate more with society. The expert explains the possible weakening of Sechin's positions by the activity of the head of Rosneft and the emerging intra-elite coalition against him. At the same time, this coalition is quite situational, it will be possible to judge the real positions of Sechin on the outcome of the Ulyukaev case, the expert believes.
The authors of the report believe that the "Politburo 2.0" model can survive to the electoral cycle of 2021-2024, although its membership may be seriously updated. Within this informal structure, two broad coalitions are being formed. The first of them is the "mobilization" one (MIC + siloviki, with the nucleus of Chemezov, the Prosecutor General Igor Chaika, Zolotov and Shoigu), and the second is the "modernization" (liberal government bloc, private business, potential participants Medvedev, Kovalchuk, Sobyanin, Kudrin, Gref).
The government, formed in May 2018, after the presidential elections, according to the authors of the report, risks becoming the government of unpopular reforms, and therefore the chances of the new prime minister to become Putin's successor will be small.
Another conclusion of the experts: given the high probability of maintaining a good physical shape by Putin, the question of the successor will begin to be really discussed during the preparation of the parliamentary elections of 2021. "It is possible to work out a special status for Putin after his resignation as president (" Russian ayatollah "), but much will depend on the outcome of the US presidential election in 2020, the holding says. At the same time, the authors of the report predict an almost inevitable further deterioration in relations with the West, which threatens to provoke conflicts along the perimeter of Russia. All this will shift Politburo 2.0 to a "mobilization scenario," experts conclude.