Jose Chalhoub* Caracas Venezuela
InMarch next year, two clear candidates are to be foreseenfacing each other in the nextPresidency of Russia, which without doubts are the current President Dmitri Medvedev and the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who bothbelong to the same party Edinayya Rossiya (United Russia).
At the moment, this party is the main political one within the russian political system and needless to say, the results will be very important for the future of Russiain specific and the world in general, energy wise. To this respect, it must be pointed out that Russia has been going through a considerable period of sustained economic growth in the last decade, mainly as a result of high oil and gas incomes and the reinforcement of the role of the government in this subject, becoming in recent years the first oil producer in the world (10 million barrels per day aprox) and gas, as well as its heavyweight position as the king of natural gas reserves in the globe. Thanks mainly to the reorganization of the energy sector since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000.
Then, came Medvedev to Presidency being Putin's most trusted ally, and who has showed a little more flexible position towards different areaswhether in the russian internal front or his position with international politics, which has earned him a slighter support from the West (namely USA and the European Union) than what has been Putin's position in all these matters, who beyond all this, appears to be the strongest and most powerful man in Russia according to many opinion polls. Especially by his tight control of the most strategic areas of the russian economy (oil, gas, coal, etc) through his many "siloviki" friends from old KGB. So given this background, and taking into account that neither the Communist Party nor any other political organizationsuch as the Nationalist Party of Vladimir Zhirinovksywhich has an important weight in the Duma comparing to Medvedev and Putin's party United Russia, look to face the next term in Russia from 2012.
Not to forget some subtle interference from Washington to support Medvedev for a second term, and block Putin's intention of becoming next Russia's president, in a crucial moment in Eurasia, where two different strategies are confronting each other to control the vast energy resources that hold this pivotal geopolitical zone, and which so far, Russia seems to be winning, most of all because of its energy-based foreign policy.
So two very opposed candidates, two different point of views, Medvedev (more Western leaned) and Putin(trying to reinvigorate Russia's weight in the world) are going to be the crucial figures for March 2012. And one important strategic thing to come afterwards that same year, the USA elections. All the world will be watching these events.