"First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, President Putin's chosen successor and long-time protege, was elected President on March 2, 2008, as expected, with about 70% of the vote. There was little real opposition. Medvedev had previously announced that if elected, he would propose Putin as Prime Minister and Putin has said that he will accept this post. The Putin regime has brought TV and radio under tight state control and virtually eliminated effective political opposition, assuring this 'transition.' The Kremlin's Unified Russia party had previously swept the parliamentary election (December 2, 2007), winning more than two-thirds of the seats in the Duma. […]. Putin's genuine popularity at home, combined with the near-total control that he and his regime exercise over nearly every aspect of the political scene, guaranteed the electoral outcomes sought by the Kremlin. Major questions remain, however, about the configuration of political power after Medvedev succeeds Putin as president. What will be the balance of power between the President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin? Will a diarchy of power be stable? Will Putin seek to regain the presidency after a Medvedev interregnum which would legalize a third (and fourth) non-consecutive term for Putin? The answers to these questions will help determine the course of Russia's political evolution -- continuing and consolidating the authoritarianism that Putin has fostered, or moderating that trend. At the same time, Russia's domestic political evolution will likely have a strong influence on its relations with its neighbors, with the EU and NATO, and with the United States."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34392