Useful idiots and Russian Medvedev's re-election

Casper

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It was really pointless for observers to have spent the last three years asking the question: “Who is better, Medvedev or Putin?” and to have worked themselves up over the conundrum even more during the run-up to elections each fall.

Make no mistake: Dmitry Medvedev is not an alternative to Vladimir Putin, and vice versa. In practical terms, they are just flip sides of the same coin.

It makes no difference whether Putin or Medvedev is the next president. Moreover, if Putin decides that it is more advantageous for him to have Medvedev stay in office, it might only further delay urgently needed reforms to Russia’s institutions and political and economic systems.

As recently as three years, two years and even one year ago, we could still hold out hope that Medvedev would decisively put Russia’s house in order by dismissing ineffective ministers, cracking down on corruption and implementing reforms. Many people earnestly responded to his rousing calls for modernization, the fight against corruption and even Skolkovo. Now those people look like first-class fools, to put it mildly.

Full version of the article was originally published on www.valdaiclub.com
 

waltky

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Granny says he's a sneaky Russkie...

Russia faces another six – or 12 – years of Putin at the helm
September 26, 2011 : Former President Vladimir Putin, who announced yesterday that he will run again next year, is likely to win. But falling oil prices may create social discontent – and push him to make political reforms.
Russia's presidential election is still months away, but Russians are already avidly discussing what's in store for them given the prospect of six, and quite probably 12 more years of Vladimir Putin at the helm of the country. For many, Mr. Putin's decision to shunt aside the incumbent president Dmitry Medvedev and take the ruling United Russia party's presidential nomination for himself was a welcome one – even if it was made by a tiny circle of people, in secret, and simply announced to a roomful of surprised party faithful on Saturday.

Putin, who rebuilt Russian state power after the disastrous decade of the 1990s and presided over one of the most stable and prosperous eras in Russian history during his first two terms in the Kremlin, still commands a nearly 70 percent approval rating in most public opinion polls. The return of Putin, after four years of uneasy "tandem" rule, in which no one could be entirely sure who was in charge, signals the the restoration of stability, predictability, and the assurance that one strong leader is holding the reins of power.

"We regularly ask people why they support Putin," says Denis Volkov, a researcher with the Levada Center, an independent Moscow-based public opinion agency. "Roughly a third say it's because he solves problems, a third say they hope he'll solve problems, and another third say there's no alternative. This artificially created lack of alternative in our political system and media zone basically ensures constant support for the one person who's on top." But for Russia's beleaguered democrats, many of whom had invested their hopes in the more youthful and liberal-sounding Mr. Medvedev, another term for the leader who enforced that previous era of "stability" by curbing elections, muzzling the media, and stifling civil society seems almost too much to bear.

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Russia skeptics proven right as Putin set to take top spot again
September 25, 2011 - Saturday's announcement that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be the ruling party's nominee for president in elections slated for March seemed to leave little doubt he was always in charge.
The skeptics have been proven right. After four years of wielding power -- often indirectly -- as prime minister, former President Vladimir Putin stepped back onto Russia's political center stage Saturday to announce that he will be the Kremlin's next master, just as his fiercest critics always argued he would. For at least a moment, the real workings of the political system built by Mr. Putin over the past decade became transparent. There was little doubt that he has actually been in charge of the country all along, and not the man elected by the voters and designated by Russia's Constitution to do that job: President Dmitry Medvedev.

Despite a detailed facade of multiparty elections and parliamentary democracy, analysts say that Russia has actually been run for the past decade by a small group of people who came into the Kremlin with Putin in 2000, and the lines of power were not altered in the slightest when Putin stepped aside in favor of his protege, Mr. Medvedev, 4 years ago. At the time, Putin said he was leaving power in deference to a Constitutional two-term limit, and he backed Medvedev as the most qualified person to succeed him. In turn, Medvedev appointed Putin to serve as his prime minister. "This makes it clear that Putin has always been at the top," says Nikolai Svanidze, a leading Russian TV personality and member of the Kremlin's Public Chamber, an advisory body. "There were never any real differences between Putin and Medvedev anyway. Putin is seen as more conservative, while Medvedev talked about 'modernization,' even if it was just words."

Medvedev hands back the reins

It was incumbent President Medvedev who nominated Putin to take back his old job Saturday. The former loyal Kremlin retainer whom Putin tapped four years ago to be his placeholder in the presidency stood before a crowd of 10,000 at the congress of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party at Moscow's Luzhniki indoor football stadium to say: "I believe it would be right if the congress support party leader Vladimir Putin's candidacy for president," in presidential elections slated for next March.

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