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Putin's Campaign 'Show': Movie Director Named To Lead Presidential Run

Filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin, who has also served for six years in Parliament, has been plucked to lead Putin's campaign to return to the Russian presidency. It may be an attempt by Putin to shine a tarnished image. But who will really be pulli

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu last month in Moscow
Stanislav Govorukhin, new top knight in Putin's campaign (mikhail_golubev)
Nataliya Bashlikova

MOSCOW - While the world watches Russia grapple with accusations of fraud in the recent parliamentary elections, Vladimir Putin has not-so-quietly called "Action!" on his nascent campaign to return to the presidency.

Putin, currently finishing his stint as prime minister after two terms as president, has chosen as his presidential campaign manager Stanislav Govorukhin, a well-known movie director. While he is also a political ally, having served since 2005 in the Duma, the filmmaker's new central role may be an attempt by Putin to shine up his somewhat tarnished image.

The announcement was made this week the headquarters of the "All-Russia People's Front," an organization he started last May that remains closely affiliated with Putin's United Russia party. Govorukhin responded that it would be a "an honor," and "enormous responsibility."

"I will put all my energy into this project," said the director.

At a United Russia conference at the end of November, Govorukhin had publicly declared that Putin should return to the presidency. "Russia needs a brave, strong, smart and capable leader, not only to defend the rights and freedoms of our citizens, but also to remind them of their responsibilities," said the director. "And to force them to fulfill their responsibilities, first of all, to make them follow the laws of the Russian Federation. That leader is among us - it is Vladimir Putin."

The decision was welcomed by United Russia members. "Stanislav Govorukhin is our colleague, our comrade and one of the most experienced deputies in the Duma," said United Russia representative Sergei Zhelznyak. "He is one of the most respected public figures in modern Russia. In that sense, Putin's choice is completely logical. It is addressed to the largest number of people possible, designed to bring together everyone who cares about the fate of Russia."

"Putting on a show"

United Russia's opponents were not impressed. Sergei Obukhov, leader of Russia's Communist party reminded Kommersant that Govorukhin has already led a presidential election campaign in 2000 - his own - and managed to get only 0.44 percent of the vote.

"Apparently, Putin is planning to put on a show that is going to need a director. But Putin is a very talented person, he has already put on a show, complete with special effects, called "Tandem," said the leader of the Yabloko party, Sergei Mitrokhin, referring to the job-swapping with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev. "But maybe now he is hoping to fill the house. So he is going to need Govorukhin."

Political scientist Dmitry Oreshkin has his doubts about what he called "a PR move" by Putin. "The campaign manager's first responsibility is organizational, and Govorukhin is not an organizer. Putin is trying to improve his image with this appointment, but I am not convinced that he chose the right person," said Oreshkin. "His appointment will probably be well received by voters. But with all due respect to Govorukhin, he is not a political manager."

Russian political analysts, instead, expect that the two key players in the campaign will be longtime Kremlin power brokers Vyacheslav Volodin, currently the deputy prime minister, and Vladislav Surkov, considered the mastermind of the 2004 Putin's victory. Insiders, in fact, will be monitoring the dynamic between Volodin and Surkov, as they manage the campaign from behind the scenes.

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Photo - mikhail_golubev

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image of a train

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