Sunday, March 15, 2015

Putin Biographer: He's Not Dead But There Is a Power Struggle

Business Insider reached out to Alexander Rahr, a German political analyst who was Putin's biographer and advised the former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher on his efforts to help secure Khodorkovsky's release, on his thoughts on what's going on behind the scenes.
Business Insider: What exactly is going on right now with Putin?
Alexander Rahr: Putin is not dead. All this incorrect information is the Ukrainian press. Next week, he'll reappear. He just took a vacation for a week. No one has said anything about this because it's hard to explain to the public.
BI: And what's going on with Medvedev — does anyone have bad relations with him? I've noticed many of the tentative reforms he made were overturned after Putin returned to the presidency.
Rahr: During his presidency, Medvedev split up the powerful elite, the siloviki [BI note: "Siloviki" is a Russian term for politicians from security or military services, such as the FSB or Soviet KGB] lost their influence. Now they are catching up. Medvedev decides almost nothing, but Putin will not fire him, because, for Putin, there is no more loyal person than Medvedev.
There won't be huge change-ups [in the Kremlin], but there will be some. I think that they'll kick out the prosecutor general [Yury Chaika]. The head of the MVD [Ministry of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev] will lose his post. They might bring back [Russian economist, former minister of economics and trade, and current president of Sberbank German] Gref instead of the [first deputy prime minister of Medvedev's cabinet] Shuvalov.
BI: You mentioned in a Facebook comment that "fights over the No. 2 position have exploded!" — that's about Medvedev, correct?
Rahr: Yes. The thing is that the battle between different factions has now become noticeable. Someone wants to quickly get rid of Medvedev. After all, if something happens to Putin, then Medvedev automatically becomes the acting president ...
BI: And what would you say is the mood in the Kremlin after Nemtsov's murder?
Rahr: Nemtsov was murdered in the same way as [journalist] Politkovskaya. The Chechens and people in the Siloviki structures. I think that Nemtsov angered too many people — the nationalists in Donbass and the Islamists in Chechnya. Just like Politkovskaya.

RW Note: I think the reference to a vacation suggests the rumors that Putin is in Switzerland because his girlfriend gave birth are true. 

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