The Russian political scene — forever shrouded in privacy, if not contoversy — is on the fritz again. Putin took another mysterious decision, dissolving the Duma and naming a completely unknown element, Viktor Zubkov, 66, as his new Prime Minister. If one could compare Zubkov to the feckless outsiders in the US Presidential campaign, Zubkov must be a puppet mignon of Putin. Not that the outgoing PM, Mikhail Fradkov, was any shining star (certainly not a very public figure–hard to believe he was PM for 3 years), Zubkov’s sudden ascension only serves to mystify the pretenders to the throne and increase the suspense in the run up to the new “elections”. And, with the destabilisation of such a surprise move, it again presages a possible turnabout by Putin to give up the presidency. But why the big deal in “stepping down?” He will surely continue to pull strings when/if he retires gracefully.

And Zubkov’s prior job: head of financial crimes agency. Not too much unlike Giuliani‘s job as US Attorney in the past, I suppose.

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