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    Monday, December 10, 2007

    President Dmitry Medvedev


    So now we know. It will be Dmitry Medvedev, not Sergei Ivanov (and not Vladimir Putin) who succeeds Vladimir Putin. Putin, it's just been announced, "fully supports" Medvedev's candidacy to replace him when he leaves office after his second term expires in the spring.

    So all hail President Dmitry. There is, of course, the small matter of elections to be sorted out, but you can be sure that the Kremlin - unless this decision creates a major rift behind the red walls - will make sure Putin's man is elected. The liberal opposition is self-destructing anyway, choosing not one, but three candidates to run for the presidency in April.

    So what can be deduced from this, in these first minutes after Putin's announcement? To me, it says that Putin, instead of choosing someone else from inside the siloviki, the cadre of security service veterans who run the country, has chosen someone personally loyal to him. Medvedev is not a chekist (ex-KGB agent) like Putin and Ivanov, he's a Putinist.

    Medvedev has been at Putin's side since the early 1990s, when Putin was chief of staff to St. Petersburg mayor Anatoliy Sobchak and Medvedev was a foreign affairs advisor.

    As Putin rose to power, Medvedev followed. First he was chief of staff to Putin after he was appointed prime minister in 1999 by Boris Yeltsin. Then he ran Putin's 2000 presidential election campaign and afterwards became deputy chief of staff to President Vladimir. Next he was installed as chairman of the board at Gazprom, the giant gas company that Putin has turned into the Kremlin's most effective foreign policy tool.

    When Alexander Voloshin quit as Putin's chief of staff over the sordid Mikhail Khodorkovsky affair in 2003, Medvedev was brought in to replace him and get the Kremlin back on course. Two years ago, in the first hint that this moment might eventually come, he was made First Deputy Prime Minister (along with Ivanov).

    What does all this mean? Two things.

    The first is relations between Russia and the West may yet recover some. The 42-year-old Medvedev is seen as more liberal and pro-Western than the hardline Ivanov. Ivanov was the tough guy you always saw in military fatigues noddling gravely at the testing of new Russian military hardware. Medvedev was the mild-mannered man in the suit that you rarely saw at all until he was made deputy PM in an effort to build up his public persona (although he was theoretically also the guy who made the decision to turn off Gazprom's taps to Ukraine and Belarus when those countries bucked the Kremlin's will...).

    The second is that real power will remain in the hands of our old friend, Vladimir Vladimirovich. Putin's choice was between a man unquestionably loyal to him (Medvedev) and a man unquestionably loyal to the system (Ivanov). He chose the former.

    Medvedev owes Putin everything. If Putin asks him to do something - to make him prime minister, or even to relinquish the presidency because Vladimir Vladimirovich misses the comforts of the Kremlin - he'll do it.

    10 comments:

    Matt said...

    Hey Mark,

    Loved the book, and I've been reading the blog every chance I get.

    Keep up the good work.

    Michael Averko said...

    Regarding the non-"Chekist" (a bit polemical in a PC English language mass media kind of way) Putinists, they (correct me of I'm wrong) appear overwhelmingly non-military and non-FSB in background. This can be (but isn't) spun as Russia advancing positively.

    Michael Averko said...

    Meant to add that the under the age of 45 Putinists appear to be overwhelmingly of non-FSB and non-military backgrounds.

    Russkij said...

    What is wrong with the KGB background? Those guys served their country. They protected the interest of their people. Why are you demonizing them? What about CIA, FBI, RCMP, CSIS? They are also involved into the many covert operations and affairs. Why don't you blame George Bush Sr. for having CIA background and being president?
    This government is extremely popular among the Russians. That is why Medvedev will become a president. And there will be fully democratic election process. It will reflect the will of the waste majority of the Russian people who believe in president Putin and his team. Russian people don't want such a "democratic" government as in Georgia. By the Way, Mike, why don't you cover georgian democracy? May be because it is undermining your positions? Today's Georgia is a western type of democracy established by the western countries invested tons of dollars into creating such a "democratic" leader as Saakashvilli, who is in fact an ordinary corrupt bureaucrat using police force to protect his positions. What about Ukraine? Why don't you cover political process in this slavic country? May be because western type of democracy doesn't work there either? More than a year "oranges" can't prove that they are strong enough to rule the country. At the same time they are not willing to share power with others. What about tons of violations in the western Ukraine during the last elections? No one in the western media mentioned that.
    Finally, what about democracy in Canada. It is shaken with the number of coruuption scandals. Permanently. One government after another is accused of bribery, corruption, whatever.
    So, stop playing "democracy" games with Russia. Let us live as WE WANT, NOT YOU!

    La Russophobe said...

    Russkij:

    You ask: "What is wrong with the KGB background?"

    What would be wrong with America choosing the head of Shamil Basayev's fan club in the USA as our next president?

    It's the same answer.

    You have no problem sending weapons to Iran, but you would be outraged if America sent weapons to Chechnya. You want to have your cake and eat it too, a childish fantasy that destroyed the USSR and will wipe out Russia as well.

    With "friends" like you, Russia needs no enemies.

    Anonymous said...

    I am enjoying your rewriting of history my friend!!!


    dmitry medvedev russia elections

    Anonymous said...

    Its funny how Menvedev entered Law school at the age of 17. Usually, the average person is about twenty three. He graduated by the time he was something like twenty or twenty one. What kind of law school does Leningrad have? Shit, give me three doctorates in five years from that University!!

    You are right there is a new cold war out there, and polotical barbie has a couple of goals:

    1. To walk all over passive presidents of Russia, love the United States Political Barbie.

    2. To make Russia the fuk'n GOD.

    3. To get Putin's back even though he worked for an organization that tried to kill Bourgeois Barbie, who is almost dead any way.

    4. All Great Empires Must Fall. Russia is not a great empire. It can't fall. But other countries are.

    5. Hell yeah, there is a new NSC 68 and Politico Barbie is writing it.

    6. Dmitry, toughen your weak, tender heart up. Toughen up. Toughen up. Toughen up. You have got to toughen up. Barbie could walk all over you. Toughen up.

    7. Politico Barbie never said she was good look'n. She likes to mark territories. Dmitry, you should learn from her.

    Anonymous said...

    Hey Anonymous,

    Have you ever fuck'n noticed that Dmitry Medvedev is only like forty and is already President of the largest country in the world. You couldn't walk over a paper clip Politico Barbie!!!!!!

    Russia Blog said...

    I have found these Medvedev photos from his younger times. Interesting.

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