>> Russia's Vladimir Putin is expected to easily win re-election on Sunday, but once the party is over, the President may face a nasty hangover. He has no plan for what to do once his time in office runs out. Under the current constitution, he has to stand down in 2024.
Reuters Christian Lowe says on the surface Russia's ruling elite look united, but behind the scenes there are constant disputes.>> This is where Vladimir Putin comes in. His role is crucial. He acts as a sort of referee, so when these disputes happen he comes along and gives a decision so that there's an outcome which doesn't involve this whole disputes spilling out onto the surface.
He keeps the system together. Now if there's any hint that he's not gonna be around although his time left in the job is limited, then that's gonna have a destabilizing effect on the ruling elite.>> Putin does have options to stay longer. He could change the Constitution, but has repeatedly said he won't.
Or he could carry out his 2008 manuever, the last time he faced the term limits. Then he stepped aside to allow his loyal Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev into the role. Before Putin took the job back when the term was over, resetting the Constitution.>>
>> The big question is if the 65-year-old actually wants to do that again?
Kremlin sources say Putin would at some point liked to do something else with his life.>> If Putin does decide to leave, he can't just step away. It doesn't work like that. In Russia, he needs to put something in place that he's gonna safeguard the interest of the elite that Putin has served all these years.
That means finding a reliable successor.>> But naming a successor could upset the fragile balance of forces inside the ruling elite. So while handing over to an heir will eventually be inevitable, it's far from risk-free.