Media: all Russian officials are personally dissatisfied with Putin and are already discussing a successor
According to sources close to the Kremlin, many government officials are personally unhappy with Vladimir Putin. Moreover, this position is shared by those who advocate the continuation of the war, and those who want peace, reports Meduza.
Exactly three months have passed since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. During this time, many representatives of the Russian elites changed their position several times in relation to the war and the situation in the country. Extreme pessimism gave way to moderate optimism, which, in turn, was replaced by the same moderate pessimism.
During the three months of the war, the general mood of the Russian elites managed to completely change several times. In early March, it was reported that most Kremlin and government officials simply do not know what to do and think with horror about how the sanctions will affect their careers and lives. A little later, a “patriotic upsurge” began - in April, many in power publicly called for war to a “victorious end”.
Now, three months after the beginning of the invasion, pessimism again prevails in assessments of what is happening. “It won’t be possible to live as before, you can’t talk about development. But somehow you can live - gray imports, trade with China and India, ”a source close to the government lists.
At the same time, the Kremlin still does not see a realistic scenario in which the authorities could end the hostilities in Ukraine and maintain their rating. In the weeks after the invasion of Ukraine began, the Kremlin's political bloc began to devise strategies for how this could be achieved, but could not come up with anything.
Satisfied with Putin, probably almost none. Business and many members of the government are unhappy that the president started the war without thinking about the scale of the sanctions – one cannot live normally with such sanctions. "Hawks" are not satisfied with the pace of the "special operation". They think they can act more decisively.
This is how a source close to the Kremlin describes the mood among the Russian elites. These words were confirmed by two other people close to the presidential administration, as well as two Meduza interlocutors close to the government.
Sources close to the Presidential Administration specify that the position of the “hawks” (primarily the security forces) is simple: “According to their understanding, once they got involved, it is impossible to give up slack. We need to act harder." By this "tougher" is meant a broad mobilization of reservists and a war "until victory" - ideally until the capture of Kyiv.
However, according to Meduza's interlocutors, the Kremlin is not ready for mobilization. Back in April, sources, referring to the results of closed sociological studies, said that even the Russians who support the "special operation" are not ready to fight themselves - or send their relatives to the front.
At the same time, sources note that the "party of peace" - represented by the largest businessmen and most "civilian" officials - is also dissatisfied with Putin's actions, since he does not see real steps on his part to achieve peace with Ukraine. But he notices numerous difficulties in the economy.
“Problems in Russia because of the war are already visible, and in the middle of summer they will simply fall from different directions: transport, medicine, even agriculture. No one just thought of such a scale, ”explains a source close to the government.
He adds that before the start of the war, no one in the Kremlin considered the option of European countries completely refusing to import Russian gas and oil. Such an embargo is still being discussed, but, according to the interlocutors, the president and the “militant” part of his entourage still do not believe that these threats from the West will be realized.
Putin simply does not want to think about the economic difficulties that are obvious to most officials, and even more so does not want to associate them with the war.
The President expressed this point of view publicly. For example, when the governor of the Kaliningrad region, Anton Alikhanov, at a meeting with the president, explained the decline in the construction industry this way: “After the start of a special military operation, logistical ties were temporarily disrupted. We still bought a lot abroad and were focused on transit through the territory of neighboring states. It took us time to adapt the supply to the new realities. It's done now."
In response, Putin several times stated that difficulties should not be associated with the war: “This special military operation of ours should not be referred to in this case. You had a recession back in 2020-2021, and there was a noticeable decline in construction. Therefore, a special military operation in the Donbass has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Those close to the Presidential Administration and the government note that against such a background, the topic of “the future after Putin” is being increasingly discussed in the authorities.
“This is not about the fact that they want to overthrow Putin right now and a conspiracy is being prepared. But there is an understanding, or a wish, that in a fairly foreseeable future he will not govern the state, ”explains one of the sources. “The president has messed up, but then everything can be fixed - somehow come to an agreement with the West and Ukraine,” adds another interlocutor.
According to him, even the figures of the President's successors are being discussed behind the scenes in the Kremlin. Among them are Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev and First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Sergei Kiriyenko.
Kiriyenko has recently been talking regularly with Putin about the Donbass (the official recently became the Kremlin's curator of the region) and the economy. At the same time, information about the plans of Kiriyenko himself differs: some believe that he wants to at least become prime minister; others are sure that by his activity he is trying to prove his effectiveness in his position in the Presidential Administration.
However, both of them emphasize that now Kiriyenko, like, for example, the head of the National Guard, Viktor Zolotov, is part of Putin's "inner circle". “Now it includes those who participate in the operation – they lead the troops, deal with the Donbass.
The president is at war. These people can go beyond the “red line”, that is, wake up the president with a call,” emphasizes one of the interlocutors.
At the same time, the interlocutors emphasize that even when discussing Kiriyenko and other hypothetical successors, everyone in power understands that Putin can leave the presidency only if his health condition seriously deteriorates. As a result, the dissatisfaction of high-ranking officials is not manifested in anything - except for talking with each other. According to an interlocutor close to the federal government, "people spit, but still work, put the country on a war footing."
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For example, the Kremlin has not given up on the idea of holding referendums on joining the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR, as well as the Kherson region occupied by Russian troops, to Russia. When exactly they can pass depends on the situation at the front. So far, the most realistic date is September 11, the single voting day. According to Meduza interlocutors, a referendum on the accession of South Ossetia may be held within the same time frame. The authorities of the self-proclaimed republic have scheduled their referendum on the same topic for July 17, but two interlocutors close to the Presidential Administration assure that the date of the plebiscite may change (it was set in advance by Anatoly Bibilov, who lost the presidential election).
The same sources do not rule out that along with referendums in the self-proclaimed republics of Donbass, a plebiscite on a “merger” with Russia in Belarus may be held. “But this is if it is possible to push through Lukashenka, who avoids such a scenario in every possible way,” emphasizes one of the interlocutors.
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