Prime Minister Putin - 2008-2012
As the Russian constitution didn’t allow the president to run for a third consecutive term, at the end of 2007 – several months ahead of the presidential vote – Vladimir Putin announced that he would support Dmitry Medvedev as his successor. Medvedev, in return, said that should he win the election, he would appoint Putin as prime minister. The result of the vote spoke for itself – having come practically out of the blue, Medvedev won in the first round as well with 70.28 percent of the vote, signaling the non-diminishing support for Putin’s way of controlling Russia’s policies.
On 08 May 2008 Puting was appointed prime minister by presidential decree. Although constitutionally subordinate to his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, Putin was still widely considered to be the most powerful person in Russia.
Putin became Prime Minister for the first time for a few months in in 1999. On 10 August 1999 President Boris Yeltsin fired Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin and named security chief Vladimir Putin to head what would be the fifth government in 17 months — then startled the nation by saying he wants Putin to succeed him as president. Putin, 46, appeared to have a strong chance for confirmation as prime minister — but the likelihood of his actually being elected Yeltsin's successor seemed remote.
The day after Dmitry Medvedev's presidential inauguration, Vladimir Putin's candidacy as Russia's next Prime Minister was backed by the State Duma, and on 12 May 2008 he announced the makeup of the new government.
Since becoming prime minister, Putin has attacked companies such as steel giant Mechel for selling Russian resources more cheaply abroad than at home. He headed the Russian government’s measures to combat the economic crisis and has responded quickly to civil unrest in the wake of worsening economic conditions. He intervened to order all wage arrears be paid to workers in Pikalyovo when the halt in production at three factories which constituted the town’s major employers caused major civil unrest in 2009.
One of the first challenges was the conflict in South Ossetia - on August 8th, Georgia launched an attack on its breakaway republic. Hundreds of civilians were reportedly killed in the violence, many of whom had Russian citizenship. Several Russian UN peacekeepers also lost their lives. The Kremlin announced it had to protect Russian citizens and launched a military operation to force Tbilisi to peace. As a result, Georgian troops were pushed out of South Ossetia, which, along with another former Georgian breakaway republic, Abkhazia, was recognized by Moscow as independent. The conflict wasn't only the first serious test for President Medvedev's administration, but for Putin's government as well. Both managed to show strong unity, enforcing the image of a powerful political tandem.
Shortly after the conflict ended, Putin’s government was hit by another problem – the global economic crisis. And if military action is more the President’s responsibility, looking after Russia’s economy is one of the main tasks of the Prime Minister. In September-October 2008, Vladimir Putin announced the first anti-crisis measures. It was decided that state money should be largely used to help cover foreign debts of a number of Russian banks and corporations, restore liquidity and financial stability. Over 3% of Russia’s GDP was used for this. Other measures were aimed at supporting Russia’s car-making industry and raising the custom fees for a number of foreign-made products. The crisis worsened, with a strong decline of oil prices and weakening of the rouble. Nevertheless, according to a World Bank report from March 2010, the Russian economy lost less than expected due to the government’s anti-crisis measures.
In November 2010, Vladimir Putin was named the fourth most influential person in the world by Forbes.
Restoring the industrial chains in the post-Soviet area became one of Putin’s public goals by the second half of his term as Prime Minister, which led to the establishment of the Trade Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The organization’s main aim is to abolish trade barriers between the three states, which are among the largest economies in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). As a result, by the end of 2011 the three countries managed to increase their total trade turnover by over 40% in just six months.
However, in November 2011 Vladimir Putin voiced another ambitious idea – the Eurasian Economic Union. Based on the foundation of the Trade Union, the Eurasian Union is meant to take cooperation between its members to a whole new level. Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be the first three nations to form the organization, others are expected to follow in the near future. “This is an event of true interstate and geopolitical importance. For the first time since the collapse of the USSR, steps are being taken to restore natural economic and trade links in the post-Soviet area», - Putin said.
In November 2011, Vladimir Putin came second in Forbes's new list of most influential people, largely due to the Eurasia Union project.
In late September 2011, at the United Russia convention in Moscow, President Medvedev announced that he wasn’t planning to run for a second term and, instead, proposed Vladimir Putin for the country’s top job. Putin accepted, saying that if he wins the election in 2012, Dmitry Medvedev can take the seat of prime minister. No surprises occurred and following March’s presidential election the two swapped chairs - Vladimir Putin returned to presidential duties and Dmitry Medvedev was appointed the country’s prime minister. The inauguration ceremony of the old-new president was held on May, 7.
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