Putin speaks at event marking anniversary of Battle of Kursk
Vladimir Putin’s time is running out and Russia’s security service is already eyeing up candidates to take the top job, Express.co.uk has been told.
It comes as the Russian President struggles to put a lid on the Yevgeny Prigozhin saga, the former chief of the Wagner mercenary group who died in a plane crash last week.
While denying the allegations, Russia watchers and the international community have pinned the death on the Kremlin and say Prigozhin had become an obstacle to Putin’s iron grip over the country.
Prigozhin staged a failed mutiny on June 23 and 24, something that Putin is said to have deemed unforgivable.
But now, some, like Russian historian Dr Yuri Felshtinsky, believe that the mutiny marked the beginning of the end for the reign of Putin.
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The Russian Presidential elections are scheduled for March 2024, and while Putin has not yet officially declared his bid, some Kremlin officials have already said they expect him to run — and even win.
However, Dr Felshtinsky, whose work spans decades of Russian history and most recently its war in Ukraine in his book ‘Blowing up Ukraine’, believes that the FSB has already ruled out Putin and is preparing to choose its own candidate for the top job.
“The FSB controls and rules Russia,” he said. “The entire process of the Russian Presidential election and the election computer which calculates the vote is by law controlled by the FSB.
“In 2021, Russia passed a law allowing remote voting. It might be good in most countries but not for Russia: it will lead to a situation where the FSB will have the ability to add votes of the people who didn’t come to vote in order to choose their favourite candidate.
“My point is that it will be the FSB who choose the next president of Russia.”
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He believes that the FSB will soon pick a new Prime Minister of Russia who will be the next President.
“They did it with Putin in 1999,” he said. “When [Boris] Yeltsin resigned, by law, the Prime Minister became President of Russia. He has technically been in that position ever since.
“If we see suddenly that the Prime Minister is changed to somebody else, let’s say Nikolai Patrushev (the secretary of the Security Council of Russia), this will be an indication that they’re making Patrushev the President.”
Russian law dictates that no sitting president can be removed unless they resign.
Dr Felshtinsky predicts that Putin will resign before the presidential election and make way for a former high-ranking FSB official, similar to his meteoric rise from KGB agent to FSB Director, Prime Minister to President.
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He explained: “I think they may try and create this tradition of using these FSB officials. They did it in 2000 with Putin and have held power for 23 years, and I believe they will try to keep it for as long as possible — they will try to keep it forever.”
Who might replace Putin has been a hot topic ever since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 started to go badly.
Several names have been touted, including Patrushev and those who are a part of Putin’s inner circle.
There is no real opposition in Russia, and while six parties have members in the federal parliament, the Russian Federation essentially operates as a one-party system led by United Russia.
Dmitry Peskov appeared to give away the election result of next year’s ballot when he told the New York Times earlier this month that Putin will win with more than 90 percent of the vote.
He later said the publication had taken his words out of context and that it was his opinion that Putin would win. But his words were reminiscent of Russia during the Soviet Union when elections were held every four years listing only those candidates who were approved by the Communist Party. Results were as a result already planned even before pen was put to paper.
Express.co.uk was recently told that “key people” are emerging to replace Putin, a man who is in his 70th year and said to be afflicted by numerous ailments and diseases.
Dmitry Medvedev, who was Russian President between 2008 and 2012, has been floated, although his rule is nearly impossible given the fact that he has been servile to Putin for so many years. He is said to have agreed to hand Putin presidential power before his own term had even begun.
Putin’s former bodyguard, Alexei Dyumin, may take the top job, as could Patrushev.
Sergei Kiriyenko, Russia’s former Prime Minister who picked Putin to become head of the FSB, has been floated, as has the current Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
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