Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Luke Harding's op-ed in The Guardian (UK) suggests that the Russian president is little more than a place holder for Putin. It's what most Western observers thought when Medvedev was presented to the world as Putin's successor. Harding can't find any evidence to change that assessment. The question is, "Did he look for any?"

Medvedev the fake reformer

"It is one year today since Dmitry Medvedev – a 43-year-old ex-lawyer from St Petersburg and a fan of elderly rockers Deep Purple – took over as Russia's president. Over the past 12 months, Medvedev has given the impression that he is a liberal. In a series of speeches, he has talked about the need to reform Russia's legal culture and establish an independent judiciary and competitive political system...

"In the run-up to today's anniversary, Russian political scientists have been discussing several intriguing topics – the nature of the relationship between Putin and Medvedev; the possibility that Medvedev could eventually sack his old boss; and whether there is such a thing as a Medvedev "thaw". Optimists believe that the blog-friendly president – from a younger generation than Putin, and without the KGB heritage – is a genuine reformer...

"Sceptics, however, point to what Medvedev has actually done. The list is not long. The president's most significant reform is to increase the presidential term from four to six years – facilitating Putin's potential comeback in 2012...

"On the international stage, Medvedev cuts a somewhat folorn figure – largely because his western partners know that the real arbiter of Russian power politics is still Putin. On the home front, Medvedev is increasingly at risk of becoming a joke, since much of what he says bears no resemblance to reality...

"While there are stylistic differences, there is so far no real evidence that Medvedev is different from Putin... The best-informed analysts suggest Medvedev is simply an export version of Putin, designed to soothe the west and make sure that the Russian elite's assets in Europe stay safe..."

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At 5:57 AM, Blogger Ken Wedding said...

Russians Say Putin Still Rules Country"About half of people in Russia say two men govern the country in tandem, according to a poll by the Yury Levada Analytical Center. 48 per cent of respondents say Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin both hold the real authority in the country.

"Only 12 per cent of respondents say Russia’s power lies in Medvedev’s hands, while 30 per cent believe former president Putin is the person who truly governs the country..."


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