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By John Helmer, Moscow

After he left Soviet trade union and youth organization work behind, Igor Yurgens became an advocate of the commercial Russian insurance industry. So he knows how to calculate risk and how to write an insurance premium to cover it. The Centre for Contemporary Development (INSOR), which Yurgens directs, has been widely viewed as the brain’s trust for Dmitry Medvedev’s run at a second term. But when Yurgens suggests the names of others more likely to become prime minister, after Vladimir Putin wins the presidential election in March, his assessment warrants careful attention. Like all insurance policies, it’s a good idea to read the small print.

Here are the excerpts from Yurgens’s interview appearing in Novaya Gazeta’s edition of February 3:

“He [Putin] may make Alexei Kudrin his prime minister and Kudrin will start cutting the excessive costs. Privatization may be launched. Russian monopolies might be reformed, the ones called “natural” for no particular reason. Even such of Putin’s colleagues as Timchenko can play their role here. Timchenko has distribution networks. Allied with Novatec and Sibur, he may well challenge Gazprom as a monopoly. It will be a model of non-violent decentralization.

“[Former Russian ambassador to NATO, now deputy defence minister Dmitry] Rogozin did well handling the matter of Kaliningrad transit with the West and representing Russia in NATO. As a politician, however, he refuses to play second fiddle to [Deputy Prime Minister Igor] Shuvalov. In his life he will fight to the end. Which, for him, is the presidency.

“I’ve known this man [Medvedev] since 2000. He has a positive potential. He is grappling with a dilemma now. He has to choose between leaving his imprint on history on the one hand and keeping his comfortable position, yet not the top one, on the other.

“He is already a member of the club that comprises people like Clinton and Blair, the people who can do fine just by giving lectures. After all, it was Medvedev who arranged the reset. He is the man who did what he did in Poland. And he is only 46. And to finish his career like this. I still think that had he remained the president, we’d have avoided a lot of trouble.”

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