Russia-focused exchange traded funds (ETFs) have been ranking among the strongest-performing emerging market funds in recent months, but a looming election could force them into a holding pattern.

Russia could soon be getting new leadership.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, serving his first term in the post, is eligible for re-election, but there’s speculation that Vladimir Putin will run for presidency again, reports Konstantin Rozhnov for BBC News. [3 ETFs to Play Russia’s Economy.]

Whoever the new leader becomes will be crucial to how Russia’s climate for investors is seen at home and overseas. After all, the country is dealing with slower growth (4% in 2010), rising consumer prices and volatile oil prices, on which the economy is heavily dependent. [Russia ETFs Heal Their Wounds.]

According to The Voice Of Russia, there is room for plenty of foreign investment, and the country plans to open its doors for more.

But without a clear direction, will the investors come? The next year will be crucial for ETFs like Market Vectors TR Russia (NYSEArca: RSX), iShares MSCI Russia (NYSEArca: ERUS) and SPDR S&P Russia (NYSEArca: RBL). All three have been strong in recent months, but any hiccups wouldn’t be surprising.

Tisha Guerrero contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.