Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Putin Decides What To Do

The next President of Russia will be Dmitry Medvedev. In the historical style of the powerful, the powerful hold a meeting and current President Vladimir Putin announces his successor. There will be voting because the international press will expect another act in the democracy theater the Russians have been staging.

New Prince, New Dangers: When Putin announced yesterday that he supports First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to succeed him next March, the country's bureaucratic and political elites fell over themselves to be among the first to affirm their loyalty to the newborn prince. But the outward show of unity does not mean the transition problem is resolved.

The news in this is that Putin will not relinquish power, but is willing to wield it without the artifice of official title. Some observers are calling Medvedev a placeholder, a harmless figurine for public appearances. Someone from the “family’, like the Godfather going with Fredo because in this version, Sonny and Michael are girls and can't play the game.

A Mafia Nation: The key problem, Ryabov added, is that Putin has created a system that works poorly without him, since he is the only one who can balance the competing Kremlin clans. "With such countervailing forces, the system cannot regulate itself," Ryabov said. "It cannot resolve these conflicts through two-sided negotiations. An arbiter is always necessary and this is the role Putin is playing.

Putin Picks His Heir: "The Kremlin has long said that Medvedev is like the adopted son of Putin, who only has two daughters. Putin has treated Medvedev like a son," Kryshtanovskaya says. "This is a person who is practically like family to Putin. He is a dependent, manageable, and obedient person who doesn't have his own approach or point of view."

Oh Look, it's the Little Bear: The idea that anyone in Russia is strong enough to serve independently as "president" while Vladimir Putin sits "below" him as prime minister, giving orders to Putin when necessary and dismissing him if the nation's interest called for it, is so ludicrous that the mere suggestion of it offends the intelligence of a turnip.

Lest anyone doubt these gambits are the result of an ambitious young man with a drive to lead the surviving population of the grand communist experiment, the ‘candidate’ himself puts those thoughts to rest.

Dmitry Medvedev: Speaking to reporters at one of his recent press briefings, Medvedev dropped a very meaningful phrase while answering one more question about his presidential ambitions: “I am a part of the state machine.” Some might view this as a sign of a lack of character. But others might view it as an honest acknowledgment of a man who does not want to pretend to be something he is not.

Much like the Chinese, the heirs of the KGB legacy are no longer truly concerned about anything as petty as academic theories of enlightened leadership. Russia is flush with oil wealth and the big bosses are never going to voluntarily release their grip on that much money.