Russia’s surprise choice for new prime minister has revealed that he plans big changes in government, and won’t rule out standing for the presidency next year. Viktor Zubkov was nominated by President Putin yesterday. He’s a relative unknown, and the move confounded political pundits. Russia’s constitution forbids Mr Putin from seeking a third term, and the new man was expected to be his favoured successor.
The front-runner has long been Sergei Ivanov. He was deputy premier in the outgoing government, a well-known Putin loyalist, and was expected to move smoothly into the lead in the race for the Kremlin. Now though, it appears the waters have been deliberately muddied by the President. No-one knows if Zubkov has his full support, or if Ivanov has lost his backing.