EDITORIAL: Whither Medvedev?

EDITORIAL

Whither Medvedev?

Writing in the Moscow Times, Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Center states:

How can Putin hold onto his high ratings in the midst of a worsening economic crisis? It is possible that Medvedev’s frenetic schedule in recent weeks is one attempt at resolving that problem. Putin has to be somehow saved from the blow, pulled to the side so as to remove any hint of his being responsible for the negative consequences of the crisis. The only way to do that is to put someone else’s head on the chopping block. But now the country is faced with another problem: Who can rule the country besides Putin?

Of course, there is no guarantee that Medevedev is prepared to go “all the way” with this “chopping block” business, so Putin must hedge his bet. That is where Vladmir Frolov comes in.

Thus once again, writing in the Moscow Times, Putin shil Frolov has turned up the flame under the boiling pot of Russian failure that must be spilled on poor scapegoat, and sooner rather than later, sending a clear message to Medvedev that he must toe the line or be liquidated.

Once again, even the likes of Frolov are forced to admit what nobody can deny, that the Russian goverment has failed utterly at its most basic economic functions:

It is now clear that the government misunderstood the real cause of the economic crisis in Russia: deflation in the international commodities market and demand destruction, a permanent downward shift in demand for Russia’s main exports after a prolonged period of high oil prices. Moreover, a speculative bubble in stock and real estate markets allowed irresponsible corporate borrowing by companies against the inflated value of their assets.

While pouring billions of dollars into the banking system, the stock market and into restructuring the corporate debt for a few privileged companies, the government has done pitifully little to address the demand destruction problem.

Having burned through half of the reserves in less than six months in a “gradual devaluation” of the ruble, the government is now facing the formidable double task of having to prop up the ruble by drastically limiting liquidity and having to fight a sharp decline in industrial output by stimulating new bank lending.

It’s extremely telling that even the Kremlin’s most diehard minions are forced to concede the massive scale of failure that confronts them.  That’s just how bad things are in Putin’s Russia these days.

Frolov then claims that “we are seeing the beginning of a public debate on how to apportion the blame.”

Debate? In Russia? Perhaps Mr. Frolov has been dipping into the samagon?

Perhaps, but perhaps he is simply setting the stage for yet one more naked act fo agression by Russia’s KGB potentate cloaked in the smoke and mirrors of pseudo democracy.

Frolov ticks off a list of ways in which Medvedev is supposedly calling Putin on the carpet for the crisis.

 President Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly shown his unhappiness with the government’s slow response to the rapidly changing economic environment. He allowed experts at the Institute of Modern Development, a think tank under his patronage, to issue a scathing report of the way Putin’s government is handling the crisis.

In addition, Medvedev’s deputy chief of staff Vladislav Surkov criticized the government for stepping away from the objectives of the ambitious Russia 2020 program. Surkov said the Kremlin might be sacrificing Russia’s modernization program for policies that stifle growth and fail to diversify the economy.

Medvedev will soon host a conference of global business leaders on how to stimulate innovation — perhaps the most subtle shot across Putin’s bow anyone could imagine.

Has he forgotten Putin’s popularity or his total control over the instruments of power? The Moscow Times itself reports that the people of Russia are twice as likely to think Putin retains the reins of power now than they were when Medvedev first came to office.

Of couse he hasn’t forgotten. And the only other explanation for these remarks is that Frolov is painting Medvedev as a back-stabber, a man attempting to grab power from the nation’s “savior.”

A man who, in other words, must be stopped.

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5 responses to “EDITORIAL: Whither Medvedev?

  1. My impression of this article was that Frolov was casting about for a scapegoat. And due to the economic crisis, they had found one in Kudrin.

  2. Steam McQueen

    ”we are seeing the beginning of a public debate on how to apportion the blame.”

    As usual the FIRST thing Russians do in any crisis is try to assess blame. Even after all this time they haven’t figured out that maybe it might be a good idea to fix whatever is wrong and enact disciplinary measures later.

  3. Steam McQueen – It is because your perception is very skewed by the choice of publications here. (e.g. one phrase from the article above: “a permanent (!!!) downward shift in demand for Russia’s main exports after a prolonged (!) period of high oil prices” – need I comment?). Noone is looking for scapegoats here or apportioning blame – maybe only some writers of Moscow Times which nobody reads anyway, and who want to seem very clever in the eyes of those whose grants they are spending in nightclubs. For a picture of blame and power struggle, you’d better look at the Ukraine.

  4. Bobby and other “Unkneeling Russians” may look at Ukraine, or anywhere else his psychiatrist suggests to him.
    For the sane people this article may be a trial balloon of sort. “Public debate” in russo-speak means disagreement between Putin and Medvedev. The article expresses (in and around the White House and the Kremlin). The article echoes earlier one by Nemtsov, where he advises Medvedev to blame everything on Putin and sack him. But Nemtsov is “untouchable”: if you quote him, you become “the enemy of the people”. Frolov is a nobody, he can be quoted anonymously: experts believe that that the government (read: Putin) misunderstood the real cause of the economic crisis in Russia.

    There is an obvious a very strong power struggle going on. So far it’s going “under the carpet” with only occasional screams coming through the sound-proof walls (most recent – Luzhkov’s 1999-replay of nationalization).

    But experts whose opinion I respect expect that this struggle will spill over some time in 2010 – either in new perestroika, or in bloody riots.

  5. Interesting article, here’s another great piece of journalism that further highlights the internal strife within the kremlin:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/8386010

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