Dec 30, 2008
Remember a little over a year ago when we were still wondering who, if anyone, was going to succeed Vladimir Vladimirovich? Then things settled down, we had a good four years before 2012. Although not everything was easy sailing, Medvedev got a little overzealous with the anticorruption legislation and a misunderstanding over Mechel. And now Medvedev has begun in many ways to stress his independence of Putin, and become defensive of repeated media questions to him and his subordinates about who truly controls Kremlin policy
Then the financial crisis came along and the honeymoon may be over. There has been a lot of speculation about why Putin/Medvedev chose to amend the Constitution to extend the presidential term to 6 years. Having been in office less than a year and consolidated a good hold over the media and the regional and federal parliaments through United Russia (and now the new left umbrella and the absconding of Mr. Belykh to Kirov). Has Medvedev's new push for independence Putin gone too far? Did the financial crisis mean the second string had to be put back on the bench in case something happened? Everyone wants to know, is Putin going to take over?
The financial crisis has unquestionably caused a lot of unrest in Russia. Protests, the fall of oligarchs, and rumblings within the political elite as United Russia thinned its ranks to deal with shrinking funds. LaRussophobe caught a fascinating article which came out in the Moscow Times by Vladimir Frolov (recognized by many as a Putin mouthpiece), which criticized Medvedev's handling of the financial crisis and even the Russian-Georgian conflict in August. Whoa there! Newspapers have been shutdown for less than that!
Whatever the reasons, growing discontent in the population and to some degree the party, an unknown deviation from the Putin plan, or a grand set-up, it seems clear that Medvedev is quickly becoming the proverbial scapegoat, whether willing or not.