Putin today, Putin tomorrow.
In a cable written in February and released by Wikileaks recently, the American embassy in Moscow asserts its belief that former president and current prime minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin, will decide the outcome of the 2012 Russian presidential election.
“While supporters of Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev are pushing him to establish himself as a stronger tandem member, many political experts increasingly believe that no matter who becomes president in 2012, the road to the presidency still runs through Prime Minister Vladimir Putin,” the cable reads.
“No matter whether Putin, Medvedev, or someone else becomes President in 2012, Putin will have the final word.”
The cable says that Medvedev might be re-elected if Putin could control the country from some other position in the government.
The cable quotes other officials saying that Putin will become president again if he wants to be, Medvedev will win if Putin wants, or someone else will win if Putin wants them to win.
The embassy cable underscores Putin’s unquestioned power in the country.
“A recent joke circulating in Moscow emphasized (the) point: Medvedev sits in the driver’s seat of a new car, examines the inside, the instrument panel, and the pedals. He looks around, but the steering wheel is missing. He turns to Putin and asks: ‘Vladimir Vladimirovich, where is the steering wheel?’ Putin pulls a remote control out of his pocket and says, ‘I’ll be the one doing the driving.’”