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On The Same Page


President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ride bicycles during an informal meeting at the Gorki residence outside Moscowon June 11.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ride bicycles during an informal meeting at the Gorki residence outside Moscowon June 11.

So it appears we won't be hearing about how "the tandem is feuding, oh my oh my" in the wake of President Dmitry Medvedev's widely discussed speech in St. Petersburg on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference in Paris after meeting his French counterpart, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stressed that he completely agreed with Medvedev's call to rapidly modernize the economy and decentralize political decision-making:

I want to reiterate that this is, of course, my common agenda with President Medvedev. There are no differences. President Medvedev absolutely did the right thing in that this focused the attention of Russian and international public and business circles.

In his speech at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Medvedev won praise from investors when he called for moving away from the heavily centralized state capitalist model that has dominated the Russian economy since Putin's rise to power over a decade ago.

Medvedev also said it was "not viable" to continue to centralize power in the Kremlin. "One cannot govern a country today from one spot," he said. "If everything begins to work or moves according to a signal from the Kremlin -- and we've seen that before -- then this system is not viable," Medvedev said. "This is bad, this means the system should be changed."

This reinforces the point I have been making for awhile now, that Medvedev and Putin are on the same page, even if their respective teams are often at each other's throats.

What is interesting this time around is that after Medvedev's speech -- which at the time was interpreted by some observers (but not by this blog) as an attack on Putin -- both the president and prime minister moved quickly to put to rest any talk of conflict.

In an interview with the "Financial Times," Medvedev ruled out that he and Putin would run against each other in the 2012 presidential elections (see the video here and the print transcript here). And then came Putin's comments in Paris today.

In the past, they would have let the speculation of conflict percolate for awhile and then make a big show of camaraderie by playing badminton or going skiing together.

As the election season approaches, the tandem apparently wants to keep the elite unified. Fake displays of tension appear to have outlived their usefulness for the time being.

-- Brian Whitmore

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or

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