Putin Declares War on Medvedev
Unless we are very much mistaken, the first shot in Vladimir Putin’s war against Dmitri Medvedev was fired on December 29th by Putin shill Vladimir Frolov in his Moscow Times column.
Headlined “Putin’s Remote Control puts Kremlin on Mute,” the article states: “When Georgia invaded South Ossetia. Medvedev responded with a strong show of force and moved to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, a move denounced by all major powers.”
Note how Frolov blames the Georgia invasion directly on Medvedev personally, and even goes so far as to acknowledge worldwide denunciation of the move. This well illustrates how awfully handy it is to have an expendable “president” around to get the blame for mistakes. In fact, if one were inclined to attribute genius to Putin, one might even suspect he knew the crisis was coming and stepped aside specifically to avoid it. How long will it be before some other Putin flack blames the economic crisis on Medvedev as well, pointing out how rosy things were before Putin left the Kremlin?
Frolov’s rhetoric is amazingly frank and harsh. He writes: “This year is ending as another watershed for Russia, on a par with 1990 or 1998.” Then he notes that “Medvedev was elected to implement Putin’s Plan” and clearly implies that the reason for the watershed is that Medvedev failed to so so. He admits Moscow is “facing global isolation and pressure” and that the falling price of oil had sent “the country’s trade balance and the budget into deficits, the ruble into devaluation and the economy into recession.”
That’s brutal stuff, and it can only mean one thing: Medvedev is doomed. Frolov writes:
Medvedev’s presidency is changing from the management of a modernization policy to the management of an economic collapse. The financial crisis is also testing the viability of the Putin-Medvedev “tandemocracy,” as painful, unpopular decisions need to be made to save the country. The two centers of power promised a gradual evolution of Russia’s political system toward more pluralism and public accountability.The crisis is now changing the dynamics and the direction of this process, as Medvedev’s own center of power has been too slow in developing while Putin, exercising ultimate authority, is wary of taking full responsibility for crisis management.
So Medvedev has been “too slow” and “tandemocracy” is not working. That can only mean one thing: restoration of the Putin autocracy, on a permanent basis. Putin can proclaim: “I tried it, it didn’t work.” Then he can seize power and hold it for life.
It is now an open secret that Putin has been running the government by “remote control” through his two ambitious first deputies — Igor Shuvalov and Igor Sechin. Both wield enormous power and ultimate responsibility for managing the crisis. Putin’s White House is now the political center of gravity, while the Kremlin is gradually turning into a backwater. Nobody there seems to be in the crisis mode, with the exception of Arkady Dvorkovich, economic adviser to Medvedev. When someone as astute as Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin first deputy chief of staff, starts holding policy meetings on U.S. President-elect Barack Obama as a political phenomenon, instead of focusing on the country’s crisis, this is a glaring sign of trouble.
He doesn’t seem to see the contradiction in these words. Though they may imply there would be nothing untoward in Putin returning to power, since he never really left anyway, if Putin has been ruling all this time then mustn’t he take the blame for the economic collapse? And if he hasn’t been ruling, doesn’t that imply there would in fact be something very sinister in his return?