Russian election: Medvedev set to become president in Sunday vote
Polls indicate more than two-thirds of voters plan to vote for Vladimir Putin's longtime aide, despite little campaigning.
But some experts argue that the real triumph in these elections will be for the system of "managed democracy," a Kremlin-choreographed exercise in which the population is mobilized to validate choices already made by the powers that be.
"A lot of people will turn out to vote, but they will be acting out of tradition," rather than individual choice, says Igor Mintusov, chairman of Nikkolo-M, a Moscow-based political consultancy. "People will be voting for stability because they've been told that this is how to keep the country on the same course," he says.
Indeed, in a televised appeal this week, Mr. Medvedev reiterated his central message, pledging political stability and continuation of Mr. Putin's policies. A longtime associate of the president, he has been appointed by Putin to all his previous government jobs, including the two he holds now: deputy prime minister and chairman of the state-run gas monopoly Gazprom. He has never run for office, and declined all opportunities to publicly debate his three opponents: Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, ultra-nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, and political newcomer Andrei Bogdanov.