The guessing game is over.
Russia’s pair of power-brokers are set to switch roles, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin poised to make a comeback as president.
Current Head of State Dmitry Medvedev proposed his mentor’s return at a congress of their ruling United Russia party.
But one opposition politician said they had lost touch with reality, arguing that a third Putin term in the Kremlin could spark a Libyan-style revolution.
Boris Nemtsov, a one time deputy prime minister in Russia, compared Putin to Alexander Lukashenko, the long-serving authoritarian leader of Belarus.
“Putin will become Lukashenko and then Mubarak, then Gaddafi. Unfortunately, people have no means of protest other than going out onto the streets,” he said.
But on the streets of Moscow, some greeted the political arrangement with approval or resignation.
“I fully agree,” said Denis, in his mid-20s, describing Putin as a “good” and a “wise” man.
“Our opinion does not count,” said fellow Muscovite Anya. “Everything is pre-determined. These elections will be just like the last ones.”
Further afield, the White House pledged to press ahead with its “reset” of US-Russia relations, regardless of who becomes President. And Washington may have to do business with Putin for some time. Russia’s presidential election next March could open the way for the former KGB agent to rule until 2024.