MOSCOW - While the world watches Russia grapple with accusations of fraud in the recent parliamentary elections, Vladimir Putin has not-so-quietly called Action! on his nascent campaign to return to the presidency.
Putin, currently finishing his stint as prime minister after two terms as president, has chosen as his presidential campaign manager Stanislav Govorukhin, a well-known movie director. While he is also a political ally, having served since 2005 in the Duma, the filmmakers new central role may be an attempt by Putin to shine up his somewhat tarnished image.
The announcement was made this week the headquarters of the All-Russia Peoples Front, an organization he started last May that remains closely affiliated with Putins United Russia party. Govorukhin responded that it would be a an honor, and enormous responsibility.
I will put all my energy into this project, said the director.
At a United Russia conference at the end of November, Govorukhin had publicly declared that Putin should return to the presidency. Russia needs a brave, strong, smart and capable leader, not only to defend the rights and freedoms of our citizens, but also to remind them of their responsibilities, said the director. And to force them to fulfill their responsibilities, first of all, to make them follow the laws of the Russian Federation. That leader is among us - it is Vladimir Putin.
The decision was welcomed by United Russia members. Stanislav Govorukhin is our colleague, our comrade and one of the most experienced deputies in the Duma, said United Russia representative Sergei Zhelznyak. He is one of the most respected public figures in modern Russia. In that sense, Putins choice is completely logical. It is addressed to the largest number of people possible, designed to bring together everyone who cares about the fate of Russia.
"Putting on a show"
United Russias opponents were not impressed. Sergei Obukhov, leader of Russias Communist party reminded Kommersant that Govorukhin has already led a presidential election campaign in 2000 - his own - and managed to get only 0.44 percent of the vote.
Apparently, Putin is planning to put on a show that is going to need a director. But Putin is a very talented person, he has already put on a show, complete with special effects, called Tandem, said the leader of the Yabloko party, Sergei Mitrokhin, referring to the job-swapping with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev. But maybe now he is hoping to fill the house. So he is going to need Govorukhin.
Political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin has his doubts about what he called a PR move by Putin. The campaign managers first responsibility is organizational, and Govorukhin is not an organizer. Putin is trying to improve his image with this appointment, but I am not convinced that he chose the right person, said Oreshkin. His appointment will probably be well received by voters. But with all due respect to Govorukhin, he is not a political manager."
Russian political analysts, instead, expect that the two key players in the campaign will be longtime Kremlin power brokers Vyacheslav Volodin, currently the deputy prime minister, and Vladislav Surkov, considered the mastermind of the 2004 Putin's victory. Insiders, in fact, will be monitoring the dynamic between Volodin and Surkov, as they manage the campaign from behind the scenes.
Read the original article in Russian
Photo - mikhail_golubev