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President Dmitry Medvedev wanted to deliver his first annual state-of-the-nation speech just after Russia's November 4 National Unity Day festivities.

And sure, scheduling the most watched event on Russia's political calendar on November 5, the day after a holiday steeped in nationalistic fervor, probably made sense to the Kremlin's meticulous choreographers.

Except for one small detail. There's this other little thing going on November 4 that might just possibly dominate global news coverage for days -- and probably weeks -- afterward, relegating the Russian leader's big day to the darker corners of the international news cycle.

Some observers have suggested that with Russia in an economic funk, Medvedev is hoping to bury his speech under the media feeding frenzy that will surely follow the November 4 U.S. presidential election.

Others, however, say the timing is intentional and designed to allow Medvedev to take a high-profile shot at the United States -- and its newly minted president-elect.

As RFE/RL's Robert Coalson points out, the legitimacy of the Russian regime rests on two pillars: economic stability and anti-Americanism.

With Russia's stock markets tumbling and its currency reeling, the first pillar is in trouble.

In a video blog posted on November 3, Medvedev seemed to telegraph his intention to play the anti-American card, saying the financial crisis now plaguing Russia began "in the United States of America and...has spread throughout the world."

The address, originally scheduled for October 23, has already been postponed twice.

Kremlin officials say that given the rapidly developing global financial meltdown, Medvedev needed to continually revise the speech, which was first drafted in August before the crisis hit. "The president is personally editing the address and making daily changes to it in connection with the changing situation in the world," Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova told the daily "Kommersant."

-- Brian Whitmore

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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