(And we could argue that Bush has dissolved his country…rather devolved….-cd)
Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) — Russian President Vladimir Putin dissolved his government and appointed a new prime minister in the biggest political shakeup in 3 1/2 years, paving the way for him to nominate a successor before parliamentary and presidential elections.
“We all need to think about how to build up the structure of power and governance so they are better suited to the pre- election period,” Putin said, accepting Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov’s resignation in televised remarks at the Kremlin today. He nominated Viktor Zubkov as prime minister, who currently heads Russia’s money-laundering watchdog.
Zubkov, 65, worked for Putin in the St. Petersburg mayor’s office in the early 1990s. A former tax official, Zubkov is now chief of Russia’s Financial Monitoring Service. The service’s press office declined to comment on the nomination.
“This man is undoubtedly legendary,” Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said about Zubkov in March.
The lower house of parliament will vote on the nomination as early as Sept. 14, State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov said on state television today.
Before Zubkov’s nomination was announced, analysts including Alexei Makarkin at the Center for Political Technologies and Roland Nash of Moscow-based investment bank Renaissance Capital said the next prime minister may become the next president. Russia holds parliamentary elections in December and the presidential vote in March 2008, when Putin’s second term ends.
“Whoever is nominated prime minister will probably be president of Russia until 2016,” said Nash.
Putin himself was catapulted to power in August 1999, when former President Boris Yeltsin named him his fifth prime minister in 17 months. Putin, who had been head of the Federal Security Service, became acting president when Yeltsin resigned on Dec. 31, and president three months later.
Putin last dismissed the government in February 2004, three weeks before the last presidential elections. He replaced Mikhail Kasyanov with Fradkov, who was Russia’s envoy to the European Union.
Fradkov today told Putin he resigned to give the president “more freedom” to guide the parliamentary and presidential elections. “The country is on the eve of important political events,” Fradkov said. “The government is working rather smoothly, we’re trying hard, but with today’s political processes in mind, I want you to have full freedom of choice, including appointments.”
Putin agreed, saying “we need to prepare the country for the time after the parliamentary election and after the presidential election.”
Analysts including Nash and Masha Lipman of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said politics, not the performance of the government, led to the dissolution.
“Fradkov’s explanation looks really weird,” Lipman said. “It’s obvious this has to do with the configuration of power before the presidential elections and the self-perpetuation of the ruling elite, not the performance of the Cabinet.”