In a word, the transfer of “the Putin system” to a successor should be a piece of cake. Immunity is another matter. Putin, as an “ex-KGB” surrounded by ex-KGB, seems bound to trust his immunity to security officials. Thus, Russia may end up with a “new Putin” from the already powerful security apparatus. The outlines of any transition will be defined by the Yeltsin precedent. We can anticipate an internecine battle royale among various interest groups of Putin’s inner circle; who comes out on top is anyone’s guess.
F.A. Hayek, in his 1944 “Road to Serfdom,” wrote that in political systems like Putin’s Russia, the worst rise to the top — namely, those most ruthless in using power. Thus, we might have to get used to a new Russian president who is worse than Putin.