With his popularity still high, the Russian press has been speculating that Mr Putin might change the constitution to seek a third term if, as expected, the ruling party, United Russia, wins the parliamentary elections set for December. But Russia's president created fresh uncertainty yesterday about who he wants to succeed him next spring when he warmly praised Viktor Zubkov, the virtually unknown bureaucrat he appointed this week as prime minister, and failed to mention either of the two senior figures previously thought to be frontrunners. Mr Zubkov was deputy to the future president from 1992 to 1993 in the external affairs department of the St Petersburg mayor's office.
But what will happen after Putin?
"We are developing a multi-party system. I've been thinking a lot about how Russia should be governed after 2008. I see no solution other than democracy and a multi-party system,"
Well-known political scientists set forth a number of suggestions in the interview with Московский Комсомолец, assuming that the president could possibly start a business of his own, become a diplomat, take a high position that doesn’t require overworking, or find another way to continue running the country. The most popular suggestion is that Putin will become the head of a large energy corporation based of Gazprom. Such is the opinion of Dmitriy Rogozin who believes it to be the only way for Putin to maintain his power. International Olympic Committee President is also mentioned.