Vladimir Putin speaking with Alexei Kudrin ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images

A New Keeper of Putin’s Secrets

Even before Russian President Vladimir Putin won reelection to another six-year term, there was growing speculation about how he intends to preserve his power and legacy after 2024. But with the nomination of Alexei Kudrin to the government's central budgeting body, Putin's long-term plan seems to be taking shape.

MOSCOW – Since the fall of the Soviet Union, political power within the Kremlin has followed the logic of musical chairs. Factotums surface and then disappear, only to resurface at a later date – all according to the whims of the man in charge. And for most of this century, that man has been Vladimir Putin.

The latest example is Putin’s nomination of former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin to chair the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. The selection of Kudrin for this role calls to mind former President Boris Yeltsin’s own search for a successor who would preserve his legacy and protect his family and fortune.

Yeltsin had amassed around $15 million while in office, and he ultimately put his trust in Putin – a former KGB man – to protect his children and his money, and to keep him out of prison. Of course, Yeltsin’s boodle now seems rather quaint compared to Putin’s alleged $70 billion in personal wealth, which he has somehow accumulated on an annual Kremlin salary of just ₽8,9 million ($137,000).

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