If Vladimir Putin Dies In Office, What Happens To Russia?

Vladimir Putin is a man on the move lately, to no one's avail. He's waged a war on Ukraine and its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which, at the time of publication, has left 350 civilians, including 14 children, dead. With all eyes on Russia, people can't help but ask who takes over if Vladimir Putin dies or, less likely, steps down from office. According to some very recent changes to the country's constitution, Russia could get a lead with absolutely no political experience at all. Russia's line of succession is a little bit foggy and will have you scratching your head a bit.

Technically speaking, Russia is a federal democratic state. However, as World Atlas explains, it's a dictatorship ruled around one man — Vladamir Putin — in practice. That means that, while there is technically a line of succession, Putin has complete control over the line (case in point: his decision to change the constitution in 2020). According to Business Insider, Putin appointed Mikhail Mishustin after he dismissed Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev's cabinet from duty. 

That means that tax official Mikhail Mishustin, who has no political experience according to the South China Morning Post, will be next in line for succession. While that might seem like a mundane option, it turns out that the move is likely a very strategic political move for Putin.

Mikhail Mishustin is next in the succession line

When Vladamir Putin made the decision to appoint Mikhail Mishustin as his successor, people grew confused. Per Business Insider, Mishustin is a "little known tax official" and "bland and powerless factotum with no major ambitions." This sounds presidential, right? Here's the power play: Putin is very close with this man, which makes for a high possibility of him being able to control, or at the very least have some say, over the country's politics (at least if he steps down).

After the constitutional changes went through, Alexei Navalny, the most prominent Russian opposition leader, put the changes into more understandable terms. "The only goal of Putin and his regime is to stay in charge for life, having the entire country as his personal asset and seizing its riches for himself and his friends," Navalny said in a tweet (via AP News). 

Ultimately, no matter what happens to Putin — or when it happens, whether as part of this conflict or not — his power will pass to Mishustin unless more constitutional changes are made. Naturally, many people believe this will mean that the country will continue on with business as usual.