"I hope it is not finished yet…I assume that I will continue to be involved in public activities"
President Vladimir Putin*
*The quote is President Putin’s response to a question asking how long he intended staying as president and about his plans after leaving formal office. He was attending the annual Seliger youth camp. His reply is no surprise. Putin clearly intends running for another presidential term in March 2018 and after May 2024, at the age of 72, he is planning a role similar to that of former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore.
People trust Putin but want a change in 2018. A number of opinion polls have been released recently which appear to present a contradictory message concerning how the public view President Putin. But, drilling down, the message could not be clearer; a majority (64%) of people approve of the president today but a growing number (32%) are disappointed with his work in the current term. All of which is consistent with another poll which shows that 55% of people are happy with Putin but do not want him to stand again in March 2018.
The economy is slowly emerging as Putin’s Achilles Heel. If he has any chance of being re-elected in 2018 (and he clearly intends that) then the economy must recover or at least stabilize and a consolidating political opposition figure must not emerge. The former is now the main focus for the Kremlin, especially after the GDP growth figure for the 2nd Qtr fell well short of expectations and Economy Minister Ulyukayev is openly talking recession risk.
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