Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Squaring the Bear

Cubby Medvedev has stepped into the increasing kitchen heat of Russian politics just at a time when the US prepares for war with Iran, the EU recognises Kosovo, Russia "recognises Abkhazia" oops, I mean at least it lifts the useless sanctions against it. Now the South Ossetians also want recognition. In effect if Russia does to Georgia what the US and EU did to Kosovo... well you can work it out.
But with all the intensity of a southern snake handling preacher, the US and EU are determined to haul Russia into their kind of democracy, still criticising the presidental elections because, from Russia's perspective, the right man won.
Russians did vote for change, not continuity. True, Cubby has promised not to depart from the general policy line taken by Putin. But he represents generational change, as the first Russian leader whose initial political experiences came after communist rule.
Like Obama, he is in his early 40s and once taught law at university.
Unlike Obama, Medvedev does have a lot of high level executive experience. He was presidential chief of staff, first deputy prime minister responsible for national projects - education, agriculture, health care and housing - all departments which have done well under his care.
He is head of Gazprom.
And, when he won, cubby stated bluntly that foreign policy is the responsibility of the president, not the prime minister.
As head of Russia's delegation to last year's World Economic Forum at Davos, he impressed Westerners. He has often made comments that indicate a more liberal tendency to that of Putin.
Medvedev has no past institutional links with Russia's intelligence services, which might work for him in winning over the west, but will mean the hawks in the Kremlin won't like this dose of medicine one little bit. He will have an internal fight on his hands that could distract him from outside politics as he tries to form his cabinet in the boiling pot of the Kremlin where hawks and doves are facing off oveer a number of crucial internal issues.
He has spoken of strengthening the rule of law and reducing state interference in the private sector, wich is something Putin was not willing to do. He preferred to see large capitalist institutions brought under government supervision.
All of this perhaps promises to boost both the development of democracy in Russia and foreign investment.
Cubby's public approval rating, at 80 per cent, is higher than Putin's and something western leaders can only fantasize about.
It would be unwise to underestimate Cubby as Putin's puppet, he knows the law. And there is every possibility that he will use the constitutional provisions to come out of the shadows and strongly assert his own authority. Technically, the president can dismiss the prime minister, so Putin is in a dangerous position.
Whatever private agreement might have been made, the formal structures are not conducive to power-sharing.
All politicians want to be the alpha dog, the unchallenged leader. Just as any real man does, and strong authoratarian and individual leadership is a tradition in Russian politics.
So we can expect to see Medvedev emerge as the dominant player, because of the constitutional powers of the presidency and electoral legitimacy.
The question is, will Putin - and undisputed Alpha Dog - be able to back down or will he try to make a comeback on his own, and what will that do for Russia if the Kremlin in torn in half?
There's that word again - Gazprom. Why does everything lead back to Gazprom?
fuck Georgia! Reunite Mongolia!
Kentai that language is really not necessary.
Reunite Mongolia? Why? What's to reunite? It's just grassland, Kentai.
June, in Russia there are two things - the army and Gazprom and majority of people are connected to one or other or both. Sort of like university.
or connecting to both. This is an interesting idea Tsarval. Where is The Bear?
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