Power Moves

Putin Jockeys for Russian Presidency

Vladimir Putin appears to be emerging, once again, as Russia’s leading man—and, according to experts, he could very well reclaim the presidency in a year and a half. While President Dmitry Medvedev seems to be confined to the Kremlin, Putin continues to travel the country with the news media in tow. On Friday, for example, Putin visited the Nizhny Novgorod region, where raging fires had destroyed an entire town. “Before winter, all the houses will be standing,” said Putin, as television-network cameras captured the moment. Lilia Shevtsova, a Kremlin expert at the Moscow Carnegie Center, said Putin is unabashedly using the disaster for political advantage. “It is quite obvious that Putin uses these difficult times to show the people who is the strong man in the country, who is the national leader, who is the can-do man—and who is just a Kremlin clerk,” she told the Los Angeles Times. Igor Klyamkin, vice president of the Liberal Mission Foundation, put it more bluntly: “The way Putin has been behaving recently sends only one signal: that he is set to run for his third presidency.”