Putin’s Anointed Heir Shows Hints of Less Icy Style - February, 2008


Medvedev does not look or act presidential. I feel he is more of a corporate executive, in looks and demeanor. However, I am sure Putin knows what he is doing. Medvedev could very easily become the 'soft' face of Moscow that westerners would prefer to see. With the resurgence of the FSB and individuals like Putin, Lavrov and Ivanov working in the background of government, Medvedev will be well guided and well grounded. Regarding rumors that Medvedev may be Jewish: There is a good chance that he may have a Jew or two in his background. It seems as if most Europeans do. Regardless of his family lineage, however, as long as Medvedev sincerely identifies himself as a Russian Orthodox and he is expresses a sincere willingness to go along with the political program set for him, it does not matter what ethnicity he is. If he was picked by Putin, he is fine as far as I'm concerned.

Arevordi


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Putin’s Anointed Heir Shows Hints of Less Icy Style



February, 2008

Dmitri A. Medvedev, the man chosen to be the next Russian president, sat surrounded by soldiers. It was Feb. 23, Defenders of the Motherland Day, and Mr. Medvedev had traveled to the parade grounds of the Tamanskaya Motorized Rifle Division outside Moscow. The division has long been a fixture of Russian political life. Its battalions have marched for decades in formation in Red Square. Eight years ago, as President Vladimir V. Putin introduced himself to the world, its platoons fought for the capital of Chechnya, helping to forge Mr. Putin’s persona as a leader of icy resolve. Now, Mr. Medvedev, the presidential successor personally selected by Mr. Putin, is creating his own public identity according to a choreographed script. And here, in a mix of Soviet and Russian symbols, the man rising to Kremlin power avoided the stern themes that have often accompanied Mr. Putin’s appearances. He wanted to talk about living conditions, for soldiers and civilians alike. “Let’s talk about the problems that exist,” he said to the soldiers beside him before a bank of television cameras. “Let’s have a normal conversation. Please.”

The outcome of the monthlong presidential campaign, which culminates Sunday, when voters will cast ballots, is already known. Barring something extraordinary and unforeseen, Mr. Medvedev, 42, an unprepossessing bureaucrat who has never held an elected office, will win by a landslide and become the Kremlin’s new leader. Mr. Medvedev, who lacks the imposing K.G.B. résumé of his sponsor, has said he will appoint Mr. Putin as his prime minister. As he has become the country’s second most-watched man, he has implicitly presented himself as both a Putin loyalist and a president-in-waiting who will wield power in a manner more gentle than the world has seen under Mr. Putin’s brand of rule. Whether this is a pose is an open question. Mr. Medvedev, in commentary outside of official Russian circles, has been cast as a puppet, a president who will labor according to Mr. Putin’s command. But he has made unanticipated moves. In a speech on Feb. 15, he said liberty was necessary for the state to have legitimacy among its citizens. And he has laid out domestic policy goals in what seems like a communiqué to Russia’s expanding consumer class.

Mr. Medvedev has also struck a campy pose — hamming it up with Deep Purple, the British heavy metal band whose music was popular in Soviet times — that suggested a dormitory-life playfulness that is decidedly not Putinesque. His words and behavior have raised unexpected but pervasive questions. Does Mr. Medvedev mean what he seems to say? Can he ease the grip on Russian political life that has been a central characteristic of Mr. Putin’s rule? And if he does, will he clash with Mr. Putin, his principal source of power? Analysts are split. Michael A. McFaul, director of the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University, said Mr. Medvedev had a more Western orientation than many Kremlin insiders. But he suggested that his official embrace of freedom was more packaging than substance. “That’s public relations,” he said. “That’s not strategic shift.” Sergei Markov, a political scientist who is close to the Kremlin and a member of Parliament, said Mr. Medvedev, a lawyer with roots in St. Petersburg, had an affinity for the West. He expects that Mr. Medvedev will push for more political freedom, to a point.

“Medvedev will try to encourage political competition within the system without destabilizing the system,” he said. “How he does this, we will see. But I think stability will be the priority.” He also said the model Mr. Putin had chosen for his transition from Russia’s highest office, and Mr. Medvedev’s flashes of liberal inclinations, could lead to unintended divides in Russia’s circles of power. That, he said, is a reason Mr. Medvedev will push only so far. “The Russian government has weak institutions,” Mr. Markov said. “A split between two personalities could destabilize the political situation, and because politics plays a main role in the Russian economy, if there is a split it could destabilize the economy, too. So that is a major risk.”

As Russians and analysts contemplate the future with Mr. Putin out of the presidency, the contrasts between him and the president-to-be, and between the Kremlin’s latest words and its recent history, are visible in many ways, no less than in the very context of the discussion. The election season here is not an election season as a Westerner would understand it. It is a certification. Mr. Medvedev, who is a first deputy prime minister and chairman of the board at Gazprom, Russia’s gas monopoly, has toured the country without the distractions of competition, in part because the government blocked the sole true opposition candidate from the ballot. There are three other candidates: Gennadi A. Zyuganov, the Communist Party leader, who has been marginalized in part by Mr. Putin’s popularity and his mastery of Soviet nostalgia; Andrei V. Bogdanov, the almost unknown head of an even less powerful Democratic Party; and Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky, an ultranationalist who has served as an unofficial jester in the Kremlin’s court.

The remnants of the organized opposition have suggested that these candidates are a troika encouraged to run by the Kremlin to create the appearance of a race. Polls predict that they may capture as little as a combined 20 percent of the vote. With no viable candidate to compete against, the Kremlin has used the prelude to the formalities of inauguration to introduce a new leader. Mr. Medvedev, who emanates intelligence and calm but little intensity, is one step short of supreme; only Mr. Putin remains above him. State-controlled television covers him extensively and warmly. There is little public contest over ideas about Russia’s course, much less questioning of Mr. Medvedev’s qualifications to be the next leader of a country with 140 million people, a nuclear arsenal and the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves. Instead, Mr. Medvedev has used the campaign as an open microphone, outlining an agenda to make Russia — which has rebounded from the financial crisis of the 1990s but has enduring problems with infrastructure, public health, corruption and an economy that relies on resource extraction — a vibrant and economically diversified state.

He has promised to improve schools, build housing, encourage business and amend the tax code in ways that will encourage household and social stability, including offering tax breaks for retirement savings, charitable donations and education and medical costs. Changes, he says, are on the way. He has said he will modify the health care system to allow more choice. And he has challenged the persistent sense that Russia’s government, whose bureaucracy has expanded under Mr. Putin and remained inefficient and corrupt, is inevitably elephantine and beyond the ability of citizens to change. Much of his agenda overlaps domestic plans Mr. Putin has himself outlined, including fighting corruption and reversing Russia’s poor state of public health But the differences between the men’s styles can be stark. When Mr. Medvedev arrived to meet the soldiers here, he had to walk past a huge banner that bore Mr. Putin’s face beside scenes of weapons and combat.

“The work of a real man — to defend homeland, family and loved ones,” the banner read. Mr. Putin, an exercise buff and martial arts expert, can emanate a catlike fitness and a comfort with conflict. Mr. Medvedev is trim but has no similar aura. He walked briskly by the poster, looking at the ground. Unlike Mr. Putin, Mr. Medvedev, in most of his appearances, has also avoided dwelling on foreign policy or Russia’s tensions with the West. Western capitals are hoping for a shift from Mr. Putin’s assertiveness. But aside from a statement of support for Serbia and a refusal to recognize Kosovo, Mr. Medvedev has not offered point-by-point proposals of how he will manage Russia’s role in the world.

Few analysts expect significant changes. “Personalities change, but that doesn’t change a nation’s interests,” said Boris Kagarlitsky, director of the Institution for Globalization Studies and Social Movements in Moscow. Mr. McFaul, of Stanford, said he also expected the United States and Russia to still face diplomatic difficulties when Mr. Medvedev moves to the Kremlin, no matter what his inclinations may be. “He’s more pro-Western, and more Western in his attitudes, than any of the other candidates out there,” he added. “Having said that, he is weak.” One senior Western diplomat said that those following Russia closely have come up with a possible test of whether Mr. Medvedev will marshal power. In the summer, the Kremlin will send a delegation to the Group of 8 meeting in Japan. Already informal bets are being taken, he said. Will Mr. Putin attend, or Mr. Medvedev, or both?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/28/wo...rssnyt&emc=rss


Medvedev presidency to be 'direct continuation' of Putin era



As he cruised to victory in Russia's presidential polls, Dmitry Medvedev said his presidency would be a "direct continuation" of the policies of the man who backed him to lead the largest country on Earth. Medvedev has so far received 69.22% of the vote with 70% of the ballots counted in Russia's presidential polls, according to Central Election Commission data. His nearest rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, is on 18.26%. Speaking to journalists at a news conference, Medvedev said that his presidential program would be "the path chosen by our country eight years ago." This path was, he clarified, the one "being followed by President Putin."

Russian First Deputy Premier Medvedev was publicly backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin as his successor in mid-December, and was later nominated by the ruling United Russia party as a presidential candidate. Putin later announced that he would take up an offer by Medvedev to become prime minister if his 'heir' were to win the presidency. Many political analysts suggested that Medvedev would struggle to make an impact as president with Putin as premier, and there were also suggestions that a change in the Constitution may give Putin more power. However, Medvedev seemed to rule this out on Monday, saying that, "According to the structure of authority, the president has his own powers and the head of government his own. This is derived from the Constitution and the law. No one is proposing to change this."

The inauguration of Russia's new president is set for May 7. Many Western observers, including the OSCE's main election arm, chose to boycott the election over restrictions imposed by Russia. Moscow rejected claims that it had imposed restrictions on monitors, however. Critics also pointed to pressure on voters to cast their ballots, especially employees of state-run organizations. The refusal of the Russian election authorities to register a number of candidates from Russia's opposition due to 'irregularities' in their applications was also cited, as was the lack of media coverage of the candidates given permission to stand. A CIS election monitoring mission said the elections had been held in full accordance with the law. The CIS is an alliance of a number of former Soviet republics. Election monitors from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have yet to comment on the polls.

Source: http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080303/100453645.html


In related news:


Medvedev Name a Problem for Clinton


Oops! Hillary lashes out at 'Medvedveda, whatever': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiyTPKlAF-8

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, who has argued she would be stronger on foreign policy than rival Barack Obama, stumbled over the name of First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in a debate Tuesday. When asked whether she knew the name of President Vladimir Putin's certain successor, Clinton struggled. "Um, Med-medvedova, whatever," she finally said. Obama, who fielded a second question, did not pronounce the name. In Tuesday's debate, both candidates criticized President George W.Bush's policies on Russia. "I can tell you that he's a handpicked successor, that he is someone who is obviously being installed by Putin, who Putin can control, who has very little independence," Clinton said. "This is a clever but transparent way for Putin to hold on to power, and it raises serious issues about how we're going to deal with Russia going forward." Obama criticized Bush for neglecting the U.S.-Russia relationship after first saying he had seen Putin's soul. "[Bush] then proceeded to neglect our relationship with Russia at a time when Putin was strangling any opposition in the country, when he was consolidating power, rattling sabers against his European neighbors as well as satellites of the former Soviet Union," Obama said. He said Medvedev "is somebody who was handpicked by Putin." Putin has not held back about his feelings about the former U.S. first lady. "A state official must at least have brains," he snapped at a press conference earlier this month when asked about Clinton's comment that former KGB officers do not have souls.

Source: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/storie...02/28/012.html


Medvedev Hits Trail After Hillary Clinton’s Flub


Perhaps you can forgive Hillary Clinton for stumbling over the name of Russia’s likely next president in Tuesday’s debate with Barack Obama. Dmitry Medvedev, the man billed to replace President Vladimir Putin after elections this Sunday, only began officially campaigning yesterday. In the 24-hour break from his official–and heavily-covered–duties as first deputy prime minister on Wednesday, Mr. Medvedev spent the day with voters, discussing pension reform and other issues frequently covered in his ministerial pronouncements, the Russian media reported. All federal news stations devoted significant coverage to Mr. Medvedev’s sole campaign appearance held in Nizhny Novgorod on Wednesday, prompting further complaints from other candidates in the race about media bias, Vedomosti wrote.

Even the debate between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama likely garnered more media attention than any given to the remaining three candidates in Russia’s presidential race in the last few days. The Russian press, which has been paying particularly close attention to the presidential primaries in the United States, becomes especially excited when the topic of debate turns to Russia, even if neither candidate can recall the name of the main presidential candidate here. Though most outlets that covered the debate remarked on Mrs. Clinton’s hiccup, none seemed to dwell on it. Nezavisimaya Gazeta even wrote that senator from New York was “sufficiently informed” on the current situation in Russia, while the state-run newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta did not even mention the slipup in its coverage. Team Putin-Medvedev, however, has not passed on the chance for a few digs at the candidates in the United States. In a likely shot at John McCain–far from the Kremlin’s favorite in this year’s presidential contest–Mr. Medvedev this week said he would work with any future U.S. leader that did not have “semi-senile views.”

Mr. Putin’s response to Mrs. Clinton’s assertion last January that he has no soul was characteristically terse, as the Moscow Times reminds us: “A state official must at least have brains,” he said. In Nizhny Novgorod, Russians arrived from all over the country to get a glimpse of Mr. Medvedev, who appeared without a tie and talked with voters about their most pressing issues, the First Channel reported. The main question: “What will you do, so that we can live better?” His responses ranged from fighting corruption, promoting a multiparty system, raising pensions (this will take time, he said, because of rising inflation “that came to us from abroad”) and improving Russia’s higher education system, Gazeta reported. Most important, he said, he will maintain stability and continuity. “If I am entrusted with heading the state, then I will be required to continue the course that has shown its effectiveness, the course of President Vladimir Putin.”

Source: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/200...clintons-flub/

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