Putin never sleeps

The future prime minister of russia has a lot of plans and wants to make russia the country with the highest standard of living

On 7. May dmitry medvedev officially takes over from vladimir putin. With over 70 percent of the vote, russian voters gave their blessing to the successor of the previous president. But putin himself does not seem to have any desire to leave power. This he proved again and again in the last weeks. Instead of talking about his personal future, he pointed to the future with the "development plan until the year 2020" russia’s future political path. Who will lead russia on this path putin also made clear – the future prime minister named vladimir putin.

Future president dmitry medvedev and future prime minister vladimir putin. Photo: kremlin

Eight years has passed since the man whom former chancellor schroder once called a "flawless democrat" and whom american time magazine named its "person of the year 2007" has been russian president for eight years. But vladimir putin, who already served as prime minister for a few months in 1999, seems to be anything but dignified, despite the fact that he is about to hand over the reins of office to his successor, dmitry medvedev. He already showed this impressively during the last rough appearances as russian head of state. While most other politicians use such occasions to glorify their time in office, putin’s gaze has always been directed to the future. And not even when angela merkel made her short visit to moscow, he wanted to talk about a last meeting or even a farewell. "This is my last meeting as president" said the still-president to the chancellor and announced to her to count on him also in the future.

Already on 8. February, when he gave his last rough speech to the state council, putin made it clear that he is more concerned about the future path of russia than about the recent past. Only at the beginning of his speech, the outgoing president referred to the years of his term in office, recalling the domestic political and economic chaos that prevailed in the country at that time. Today, russia is "one of the seven largest economies in the world," putin said with pride, citing figures that only underscore the positive development of recent years.

But then there was also an end to the self-congratulation. "We cannot rest on our laurels yet," putin warned, striking tones akin to a government declaration, with a long-term ambitious goal: "russia must become the country with the highest standard of living."Putin has no doubt that this is possible. "I’m sure we can do it," he said, especially if you "work for it day in and day out".

And how much work his successor, his staff, his listeners – political heavyweights from the duma, the senate and the regions – but also he himself, medvedev’s preferred candidate for the post of prime minister, putin clearly expressed in his "development strategy for the period up to 2020", putin also clearly stated that.

Education offensive for human resources

By 2020, russia’s economy should no longer depend only on gas and oil. Rather, the future is to be invested in "human resources" so that russia becomes a high-tech location and one of the most important global financial centers. If the country does not do this, then "russia will lag behind the world economic powers, and could even lose its role as a major power," putin warned. And how this structural change within the russian economy should be realized, putin also said at once – with an education offensive and strengthening of russian science.

The "human resource" should not go empty-handed either. The labor productivity of russians is to increase fourfold in the future, but they are also to be allowed to share in the economic successes. By 2020, 60 to 70 percent of the russian population should belong to the middle class, putin announced to the state council. By then, this newly created middle class should also be able to enjoy a reformed tax system.

But to achieve this goal, a lot has to change in the world’s flattest and coarsest country. Putin knows this and calls a spade a spade – and in doing so he also exercises something like self-criticism. Thus, the very president who revived tight centralized power in russia along soviet lines (the rebirth of the soviet union) denounced centralism. "The state apparatus is burocratized, corrupted and not efficient enough. The main problem is centralism", sagte putin im georgijev-saal des kreml.

Russian tandem to lead the way

On that day, it was clear to the last doubter in russia that putin was serious about his announcement that he would also serve as prime minister under dmitry medvedev. An office which, in putin’s opinion, gives him sufficient room for maneuver. "The highest executive power belongs to the government," putin said at his last annual press conference as president, barely a week after his appearance before the state council. "The capture offers exceedingly crude possibilities," he continued, also allaying concerns about possible future tussles over authority between medvedev and himself. „ich kann ihnen versichern, dass es hier keine probleme geben wird."

The russian elector could already be sure of the correctness of this announcement during the election campaign. "We decide together" was written on medvedev’s election posters, which also featured putin, looking at his successor with an almost fatherly gaze. And also the joint appearance on the red square after the announcement of the election results, when medvedev and putin were celebrated by the youth organization nashi, which is loyal to the kremlin, showed that russia has elected not a new president, but a tandem, which is directed by putin.

And as such a tandem the two "presidents" now also on. So also on 11. March, when they met with the chairmen of the parties represented in the duma. Naturally, putin’s "development strategy until 2020" the most important topic at this meeting with grizlov, zhirinovsky, zyuganov and co. Putin called on them to develop their own initiatives and proposals to make the economy and the state more effective – and in doing so, also to fight against the worst problem of the russian bureaucracy, namely corruption. And putin has already come up with a brutal remedy against any kind of bribery: "it would be good if the hand that grabs the money was ticked off, as in the middle ages."Such sentences say only someone, who wants to move in russia politically still much.

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