Russian Lapdog Leaving Lap

BACK in the USSR! We’ve already been treated recently to some prime Soviet nostalgia, in the form of the Yulia Timoshenko show-trial in the Ukraine. Now from Le Monde we see how that’s been joined by the lock-step Kremlin solidarity of old: current Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has endorsed his own replacement by Vladimir Putin.

Many commentators – rightly, and including the Le Monde editorial board itself – had seen Putin’s end-of-September announcement that he would run for (and therefore win) re-instatement as president in 2012 as taking Russian political development back to the Brezhnev era, if not even back to the time of the Czars. Not so, said Medvedev yesterday on Russian television – it is “something else . . . a means to resolve the challenges we have set for ourselves.” So he’s fine with missing out on the chance to “run” for the second presidential term he himself is entitled to under the Russian constitution.

On the other hand – surprise! – he’s not happy with the current state of Russian government:

I’ve been a lawyer, and I thought that I knew very well how the state apparatus works. I was mistaken, things are much more difficult and in a certain way more frightening. That’s why we must think about how to change the system of managing the State.

Aha, so there at least is a note of dissension! But note that this comes after he admits that he has only around one year left as president, and hasn’t even indicated what political function – if any – he will fulfill after that. Medvedev’s term in office has been chock-full of ambitious pronouncements like this – that Russia must be more investment-friendly, more subject to the rule of law, etc. – that came to nothing. This is certainly just one more.

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