The 2012 Russian presidential election and the future of the Medvedev-Putin tandem have started to dominate political debate inside and outside the country. Several developments in Russia's domestic politics have made predictions on the future president particularly arduous. These include Russia's so-called modernization initiative; Mikhail Prokhorov's debut on the Russian political scene, and the new presidential decree on the "Security Council Questions". Yet, analysing these developments suggests that whether Putin will return to the presidency or whether he will remain the de facto leader is unlikely to have major repercussions on Russian domestic policy. For Russia, the priority today is the need to maintain internal stability and formal democracy, necessary to attract foreign technologies and thus advance the modernization initiative as well as to guarantee elite continuity through an internal balance between the siloviki faction and the liberals. Both a renewed Medvedev-Putin tandem and a return of Putin to the presidency fulfil these goals. While much debated, the personality of the future Russian president is unlikely to represent a major game changer in Russia today.
2. Medvedev for a second term: a unique guarantee for balancing siloviki and liberals and advancing the modernization initiative?
3. Putin's come back: modernization accompanied by formal democracy
4. Conclusion: Who will be the next president and does it really matter?