Thursday, 29 October 2009

Medvedev might yet become Russia's next reformer

The Russian President recently set out a prospectus for modernisation in an article published on the democratic news-site, gazeta.ru. Perennially hostile observers chose to interpret the piece as an extension of a good cop / bad cop routine which they believe Medvedev is engaged in, in conjunction with Vladimir Putin. By their estimation, real power resides squarely with the Prime Minister and suggestions of liberalism, which occasionally emanate from the President’s office, form a convenient distraction, simply permitting Putin to exercise his personal authority with greater freedom and efficiency.

Cynicism amongst commentators, however, is not universal. There are those who believe that Putin’s influence has merely postponed a project of reform for which Medvedev will seek a mandate in 2012. The article does not suggest that the President will willingly stand aside, should his predecessor seek an immediate return to the Kremlin, and there is plenty of evidence to corroborate the thesis that Medvedev intends to serve more than one term.

The Russian constitution is, of course, heavily weighted in favour of the President. Putin’s influence, exercised from a competing office, has been retained throughout the first year and a half of Medvedev’s presidency, but there have been tensions.

If the current incumbent is determined enough to seek a further four years, he will prove difficult to unseat and his authority will certainly be consolidated. It is difficult to envisage Putin taking the backseat for another spell of ‘diarchy’, without losing a degree of authority, however omnipotent his powers of manipulation might seem to Russophobe conspiracy theorists.

Dimitry Travin, on Open Democracy, speculates that Medvedev can transform Russia as comprehensively as Gorbachev, if he possesses the will to emerge from beneath Putin’s shadow.

In his own words, the President longs to build a state which is, “richer, freer, more humane and more attractive”. He wants to liberate the country from its economic dependence on raw materials and he is prepared to be candid about the dysfunctions which currently disfigure Russia.

Rather than harangue Medvedev and his countrymen for perceived shortcomings, we should offer every encouragement towards those ambitious ends.

2 comments:

yourcousin said...

If the current incumbent is determined enough to seek a further four years, he will prove difficult to unseat and his authority will certainly be consolidated. It is difficult to envisage Putin taking the backseat for another spell of ‘diarchy’, without losing a degree of authority, however omnipotent his powers of manipulation might seem to Russophobe conspiracy theorists.

Chekov,
Here's the deal. If Medvedev actually runs against Putin then I'll buy you a six pack. If Medvedev and Putin agree on a joint candidacy or Medvedev stands aside for Putin then owe me a six pack. Sound fair?

Chekov said...

Sounds fair yourcousin. Any decent Pilsner suits me. ;-)