The stage is set. The lights and sound have been tested. The curtain will soon go up.
Tomorrow, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin performs his annual one-man variety show by answering the public's questions in a live, nationally broadcast Russian-style town hall meeting. Putin has raised some eyebrows by continuing this presidential tradition now that he is, according to the playbill, playing second fiddle in the Kremlin orchestra. Imagine what would have happened if Mikhail Kasyanov or Mikhail Fradkov had tried to pull something like that when Putin was president! But, apparently, President Dmitry Medvedev is not so insecure.
Details of the spectacle are being closely guarded by the show's producers, Unified Russia, which brought you such extravaganzas as the December 2007 Duma elections and last month's 10th annual party congress. But some tidbits have been revealed, just to keep us properly teased.
The questions, as usual, will be wide-ranging and hard-hitting, pushing Putin's ability to improvise and charm to their very limits. According to the government, the premier will be accepting questions up until the moment the broadcast ends, so, clearly, anything goes. No holds barred.
Readers of The Power Vertical will doubtless want their voices heard. You can put Putin's feet to the fire by leaving your question at a specially created website -- moskva-putinu.ru. Or you can leave a voicemail at 8-800-200-40-40. If your question is short and sweet, send an SMS to 0-40-40. Remember, this show only works if we all participate, and be sure to let us know if your question gets picked!
And tune in here tomorrow for a review of the show. "We laughed; we cried...."
-- Robert Coalson