Why the government and the Constitution of the Russian Federation change in such a hurry?

The new Russian government as the selection is composed of Ministers-technocrats — skilled performers with little political weight. However, to call this Cabinet is weak and the transition is also wrong, says political scientist Tatyana Stanovaya. What team is Michael mishustina differs from the technical governments of Fradkov and Zubkov? And if the Kremlin’s clear plan for the transfer of power in 2024? These issues are “New” were discussed in an interview with the Deadlift.

Tatyana Stanovaya, a political scientist, invited expert of the program “Russian domestic politics and political institutions” of the Carnegie Moscow Center. 15 years was the head of the analytical Department of the Center for political technologies, and today head of research firm R. Politik. Reality of Russian Politics.

— They say that the government of Dmitry Medvedev resigned because of the failure in the implementation of the may presidential decree. Simultaneously, the country in a rapid pace began preparing for the transit authority. How are these two events linked?

— I think that the significance of the failure of national projects rose sharply against transit. Perhaps Putin would pull some time from this government, if not for the need for change and constitutional amendments. Putin was important to start transit in the conditions of least resistance environment. For this it was necessary, first, to reduce social tensions, we see how much effort has been made to appease voters. And secondly, to get a comfortable, capable government.

The last government Medvedev was, you might say, temporary. It became a ballast, which impeded the development, creating the risks that caused irritation of the population.

As far as I know, Medvedev had to leave in may 2018, but then Putin did not make this decision due to the fact that he wanted to take time and decide on the solution to the problem-2024. Now, in my opinion, the transit was the catalyst for the resignation.

— There is a version that Medvedev himself “rebelled” against the script of the constitutional reform proposed by the President.

— Yes, now a lot of arguing about whether Medvedev is gone or “gone”. I think that Putin has not been considered with Medvedev in making recent decisions. Medvedev left partly due to the fact that he was not more worthy of a place in the new configurations of power. The fact that it happened a few hours after the presidential address, said that clearly there was some emotional component on the part of Medvedev. It is unlikely that such a hasty “divorce” was originally intended, although the change of government in General logical.

Mikhail Mishustin and Dmitry Medvedev — even the Prime Minister. Photo: Reuters

— The government may 2018 said it was anything but office development. Now prerequisites for a breakthrough more than it was then?

— Hard to say, but this government in any case will be easier because it is more politically monogamous. At mishustina from the point of view of personnel policy are more likely to mobilize the Cabinet on a smooth line than Medvedev. Medvedev is still a political figure, in my opinion, it was much more difficult to implement reforms, which in fact was not of his authorship. He worked for several years head of government in a situation when he had to go through a lot of humiliation. We remember the first years of his Premiership, when one after another revised his presidential decisions.

Mishustin is a universal soldier who came to serve. Medvedev did not serve, he worked as a former successor, former President and member of the tandem. This is the figure, which Putin had to be considered.

Mishustin is such a yes-man, in this respect, it will be easier.

On the other hand, there is a system problem: Putin continues mostly to deal with foreign policy, domestic interests him little.

How the current government can take the initiative and really move forward — that’s a great question, especially considering the fact that in the current regime, the Cabinet of Ministers is politically weak on the dominance of powerful interest groups outside of the official system. From a political point of view of many of the new Ministers inferior to their predecessors just because they were inexperienced in public politics. They have, of course, take some time to get used to a new role.

In any case, there are positive expectations, the government received a serious advance trust with the professional community, which binds with high hopes on the resumption of economic growth.

— Medvedev has often been accused of political spinelessness — he allegedly fought for the projects of his Ministers, who had to solve everything directly with Putin. What could this be the reason?

In my opinion, Medvedev according to its actual status does not match the position of Prime Minister. This is a very serious problem:

on the one hand, he is a former President, a man with his agenda, with international contacts, experience of conflict with Putin (by the way, a few have, in his biography of a “luxury”).

On the other hand, he virtually rejected by the elite, which has for him the minimum of respect. He looked somewhat freak with my gadgets, strange statements and a detachment from reality. I feel that he just did not do effort and was not motivated enough. For him, it would probably be even more comfortable after leaving government. Another thing is that he hardly thought it would happen like that, and for him it is unpleasant.

“In my opinion, Medvedev according to its actual status does not match the position of Prime Minister…” Photo: EPA

— In the new government as first Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov. It is not very similar to a typical technocrat, accustomed to silently follow orders from above. Can we consider the Belousov political figure?

— Belousov I refer to the so-called political technocrats. It’s the people who, on the one hand, they were not “genetically” close to Putin, that is not served with him in East Germany, worked in the mayor’s office created the cooperative “Lake” and so on. But, on the other hand, has been asked by Putin for many years and has gained a certain merit in his eyes. Such figures are becoming more surrounded by Putin: Sergei Shoigu, Lavrov, Vaino, Sobyanin, Belousov and even marmots. It was originally not Putin’s people, but they became political figures in power that are responsible for important areas of work for many years.

So yeah, against all others Belousov is the most politically visible player in the government. The same Mishustin, with all his talent and efficiency, not used to publicity, he, too, will make up for it Golikova more experienced, like Silvanus. Well, everyone else — yeah, that’s young technocrats. In my opinion, this new style of personnel policy, which is observed in approximately 2015. Putin needs such inexperienced public policy professionals. And at the same time is washing away, hardly conscious, Putin’s friends from the system of the official authorities. Three members of the government who were in the last Cabinet and known as a longtime associate of Putin — Medvedev, Kozak and sports Minister — is now gone.

— Belousov belongs to another school than all other members of the financial unit. He will want to follow expansionary fiscal policies, in other words, spend more money. Work with the head Keeper of the Treasury Anton Siluanov?

— Indeed, it is not very clear, as Belousov will work with Siluanov and Reshetnikov, who is also quite significant figures, each in its own way. When was the famous letter Belousov, Siluanov it managed to wrap everything in a form that nobody was the loser. But none of the current members of the government — perhaps with the exception of mishustina — will have space to implement their own agenda. Belousov is a single specified purpose, and I don’t think he can go beyond them. And then, he will be responsible mostly for the economy and the financial authority is the Central Bank, which remains a very strong institution. So to soften its monetary policy will not work.

— In the new government formed a team of highly qualified (at least by the standards of Russian bureaucracy) managers-optimizers. This is hardly a purely technical transition office, which will be removed after six months?

— I think that even if there are early elections to the state Duma, the present government it is clearly not six months, not a year. Putin has set up a tool, and he wants the result it will give people the opportunity to work. The experts so happened that if the government technical — it’s just so weak. Many of my colleagues say that a new Cabinet cannot be considered technical. But it is important to define the terms. Technical office — this office minimally ideological, built exclusively and only under the agenda of the President, non-politicized, that is, without his own political “I”. The government is not a player, is a performer. However “technical” does not mean “weak.”

Here Medvedev’s office was political, but very weak, cabinets Fradkov and Zubkov — technical and weak, and the government mishustina technical and very strong.

In the sense that he has a mandate to implement a serious task, which was not, for example, the government of Fradkov and Zubkov. And that’s the difference. It came to achieve very ambitious goals. And it is underlined by the confidence of the President.

I think this is the second attempt of Putin to create in a sense a meritocratic Cabinet (the first was in 2000), to the extent possible in the current regime. Many can say that they have merit on their job sites. I would explain the new part of the wish to gather people who have achieved some success, but which will at the full asking result. It is also a feature of the new personnel policy: the technocrats, inexperienced and grey figures in political terms, it is easier to ask in the case of what to replace.

— If you look at the “newcomers” among the Ministers and Vice-premiers, you can see that about half of them are somehow connected or Mishustin, or Sobyanin. The fact that the new Prime Minister brought with him his men, — probably, of course, so do all. But why in the new government as many people indirectly close to Moscow city hall?

— What Mishustin had the opportunity to appoint his two Vice-premiers and third, Chernyshenko, who is regarded by his longtime friend, is the confirmation that he will be at least technical, but a strong Prime Minister. About Sobyanin — I would it was treated with caution. No “people Sobyanin,” no. Sobyanin has the following property: to surround himself with strong managers. These are not pieces that go with it since 1990-ies (almost none). It’s the people who make a career and held, has achieved success long before Sobyanin. So it’s not about strengthening Sobyanin, and that his personnel policy is sufficiently effective that the people he gathers around him, then demanded at the Federal level. These are people who have close relationships with other influential players. The same Reshetnikov, for example, with Yuri Trutnev, and Dmitry Kozak.

“No “Sobyanin people” in the government there. He is a technocrat with a political face.” Photo: Anton novoderezhkin / TASS

— Large about the political future of Sobyanin’s so many that it is difficult to resist different assumptions.

— The fact that the post of Prime Minister politically and socially very dangerous. Why not appoint the government, for example, Sergei Chemezov, Igor Sechin or Arkady Rotenberg? This post carries such risks, which nobody by and large do not want to get involved. Is a service responsibility. The same Sobyanin — if he became Prime Minister, in a few years could seriously spend all his political capital. This is an automatically tense relations with the state Duma and United Russia, systemic opposition. It means to be on the front lines of the war. All learned a lesson with Ulyukaev, who had a very strong impression on the elite. And Putin himself is in no hurry to appoint a heavyweight (although Sobyanin — not an early associate of Putin, and the political technocrat). I think he’s comfortable working with technocrats who have no political face. Sobyanin it is this figure which creates around itself a certain political expectations and perceived by the elite as a potential successor, as a player, a built-in system of political relations.

And Mishustin is a soldier. Well, the question is whether the mayor’s successor is Putin.

— In the President’s message was clear allusions to the movement, though weak, in the direction of strengthen the role of Parliament in Russia. Later it turned out that the opposite is true, the President’s powers will only grow. Why let the audience off the scent?

— I would not say that there was some special game — to create the impression that Russia is moving towards a parliamentary Republic. I think the idea was to show that the tightening of the regime will not. In the framework of the game began to speculate on the introduction of elements of a parliamentary Republic, with a lot of reservations about the need for strong presidential authority. Putin repeated several times that the presidential power will remain dominant, have a weak President is dangerous for Russia. And even the idea of a “mentor” rejected — no second individuals, only the President as dominant.

The intrigue is due solely to the fact that the Kremlin didn’t want this reform looked like a movement toward some kind of conservatism, wanted to create a more favorable image. By the way, it is no coincidence that almost at the same time Putin went on the iconic steps — lost under article 210 of the criminal code (creation of a criminal community in economic activities) and reduced the liability of doctors for loss drugs. Few people noticed, but then Putin has clearly broken through and probably has listened to the recommendations of his advisers, believing that for the General case we need positive signals to society and business.

In other words, the Kremlin has made efforts to ensure that Putin did not seem, roughly speaking, a usurper.

But there is no parliamentary Republic, seriously no one, except, perhaps, Volodina, are not discussed.

Another thing is that the message Putin said that the President will not be able to disagree with the choice of Prime Minister by the state Duma. This phrase led many on a false trail. As we can see, in the end, the state Duma any Prime Minister to choose will not be all under the old scheme — she just agrees or not. Here the difference is purely rhetorical — to approve or give consent. Perhaps between the time of announcement of the message and develop a final bill, there have been some adjustments in favor of the President. It is seen that there is a big rush, and I think nobody thinks about how all this looks from the outside. So, very ugly happened with the working group to amend the Constitution: it only created a few days later, the President is already making its package.

— Want to say that it was all impromptu?

— No long-term plan they have, of course. Putin was preparing the whole thing, probably for the last months. According to my subjective feelings, he already knows who is the successor. But as for the Constitution, then in 2017 there was an active work on the collection of ideas, their achievements were in many different places — from wounds to the security Council and the presidential administration. And Putin in a very narrow circle have already decided how it will look in the end. A few months ago determined the configuration, and began work on the bill. At the time of announcement of the message was not only finished individual parts.

Why is Putin so happy? To retain maximum control over the situation.

Otherwise, too many factors can interfere and prevent the transit. This question — why so fast — not to be confused with another question — why so early, four years before the presidential election. The first has a clear answer: this is the style of Putin — lightning to arrive at meaningful solutions, so that nothing penetrated, one is not affected. The second remains a intrigue.

Photo: Lev Fedoseyev / TASS

— You wrote that the amendments to the Constitution create a “fuse” to limit the power of a potential successor. But how can it work if in Russia the de facto super-presidential system is retained?

Is only the fuse, then there is no way to block the President, but a way to draw him into a dialogue. Most of the amendments are intended to limit the successor, not depriving him of real power. Putin does not want to be the leader of the country, but wants a successor was forced to reckon with the opinion of the elite and did not take radical steps that may cause rejection. That is, the future configuration of power will tandem with two centers of power: the new successor and Putin. The second will be not so much institutional as political influence through three levers: the rating, the ruling party and its people.

As for the fuse, it is primarily the inability of the President without the consent of the party in power to appoint the Prime Minister and all government members. Although in the end, the President can dissolve the Parliament if the three rejects the candidacy of Prime Minister. But the President will be forced to have a second key, the consent of the “United Russia”, — to appoint the government. The second mechanism is the mandatory consultation with the Federation Council on the appointment of security officers. Although this is, again, no obligation. Finally, the state Council, which will receive is not yet very clear leverage, but will obviously claim the role of a focal point. It is a platform where Putin (although this is only optional) will coordinate the adoption of key strategic decisions, but not make them. The President is empowered to form a state Council, and the only guarantee for Putin to retain a significant place is the loyalty of a successor. Nothing else can guarantee him anything.

I have a strong feeling that everything that happens is only the first part of the play. To be continued. There is much we do not yet understand that the important questions have no answers. The problem of this reform, as in the case of raising the retirement age, it is conducted unilaterally without real discussion. Putin sees no need to explain that in all that followed, to reveal their plans, even to discuss about it. This property of regime — society and the elite are by default considered to be in agreement, and dissent is classified as enemies of the state. So the initiative will remain in the hands of Putin.