Mr Putin cannot arrange his succession using his bloodline or the Communist Party apparatus. Perhaps he will anoint a successor. But he would need someone weak enough for him to control and strong enough to see off rivals—an unlikely combination. Perhaps he will try to cling to power, as Deng Xiaoping did behind the scenes as head of the China Bridge Association, and Mr Xi may intend to overtly, having conspicuously avoided naming a successor after this week’s party congress. Yet, even if Mr Putin became the éminence grise of the Russian Judo Federation, it would only delay the fatal moment. Without the mechanism of a real democracy to legitimise someone new, the next ruler is likely to emerge from a power struggle that could start to tear Russia apart. In a state with nuclear weapons, that is alarming.
What? Are we going to forget about Medvedev? Putin has full power to find and emplace a suitable successor. This author grossly underestimates the extent of Russia's kleptocracy and national pride in Putin. The next president of Russia will be whoever he endorses. It'll probably be a solid choice to maintain the current government. That or he stages some whazoo shit that implodes so he has an excuse to change the constitution and run for another term to "save the country"