Staunton, August 1 – The collapse of the public rating of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin may cause Vladimir Putin at any moment to fire him and replace him with Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin in order to attract more support for the government, Russian political analyst Ilya Grashchenkov says.
Despite expectations that Mishustin would turn things around in the economy, that has not happened. Instead, the situation has deteriorated; and Russian anger at him and his government is pulling down the Kremlin as well. Consequently, Putin may soon decide to dispense with him, the political commentator says (ura.news/news/1052497008).
If the Kremlin leader fires Mishustin, Grashchenkov continues, he is likely to turn to Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin as his replacement. The Kremlin has praised Sobyanin for his work in combatting the pandemic, and he would likely at least initially enjoy a certain honeymoon with Russians as in fact Mishustin did after replacing Dmitry Medvedev.
Not all Russian analysts share this view. Konstantin Kalachev, for example, insists that Mishustin’s problems are not of his own making but reflect the worldwide impact of the pandemic. As a result, he says, Putin won’t get rid of him because no one else could achieve much more in the face of this much broader and deeper challenge.
But the fact that a commentator as prominent and well-connected as Grashchenkov is now talking about another change near the top of the Russian political pyramid suggests that Mishustin is in trouble not just with the Russian people but with the Russian dictator. And while the latter may not matter, the former is in a position to make a change.
Indeed, it is even possible that Putin might conclude that reordering the political map by firing Mishustin just before the Duma elections is just what he needs to ensure that his United Russia wins enough support to reduce his need to engage in the kind of massive falsification that could spark protest demonstrations after the vote.