Friday, September 19, 2014


The Power Vertical

The Tandem In Winter

A campaign poster of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appeals to people to vote for their political party, United Russia, in parliamentary elections in December.
A campaign poster of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin appeals to people to vote for their political party, United Russia, in parliamentary elections in December.
A funny thing happened when President Dmitry Medvedev nominated former Astrakhan Mayor Sergei Bozhenov this week as Volgograd's new governor -- allies of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the region rebelled and tried to derail the appointment.
 
Ivan Novakov, a member of Putin's campaign team in Volgograd, told the daily "Kommersant" that Bozhenov was an unacceptable candidate to many in the local elite because when he served as mayor of Astrakhan he was involved in vote rigging (I'll refrain from commenting on the inherent irony here). A better candidate, Novokov said, would be Sergei Kokorin, a close Putin ally who is the head of the regional branch of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).
 
In the end, the Volgograd legislature confirmed Bozhenov and he was inaugurated on February 2. But the miniscandal over his appointment speaks volumes about the state of affairs at the pinnacle of Russia's power vertical. 
 
"It is remarkable that the objections against Sergei Bozhenov originated from members of Putin's local staff. The ambiguity of this situation does not add to the stability of the regional elites," political analyst Andrei Rogozhin told "Kommersant."
 
The unexpected struggle over Bozhenov's appointment illustrates that Medvedev has not only become the lamest of lame ducks, but that his political partnership with Putin appears to have outlived its sell-by date. This isn't one of those "The Tandem Is Feuding, Oh My" moments that we have seen so much of over the past few years. This time, amid the ongoing political uncertainty in Russia, the tandem finally appears to be dead in the water.
 
The weekly "Argumenty nedeli" wrote last week, citing Kremlin sources, that Medvedev is "not sure at all that Putin will keep his promise and make [him] the premier" after the March 4 presidential election.
 
According to the weekly, Medvedev is so concerned about this that he and his wife, Svetlana, visited Patriarch Kirill in early January to seek his support:
 
The Medvedevs reputedly visited Patriarch Kirill I in early January, asking His Holiness for counsel and support. It is rumored that this was precisely why the patriarch mentioned the necessity of a dialogue between the powers-that-be and society in his sermon. The point was that Medvedev was promoting this dialogue and that he was therefore perfect for the role of the premier.
 
It does not take a genius to figure out that Putin was informed of the visit. And he reportedly was less than pleased. Putin responded by reactivating contacts with the so-called Christian Chekists -- St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko and Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin. It was Putin's way of reminding the patriarch that he has his own faction within the Russian Orthodox Church.
 
There have been other signs that the Putin-Medvedev divorce is all but sealed. In an article in the daily "Vedomosti" last week, for example, Putin took a swipe at Medvedev's efforts to reform and modernize the economy.

"On the initiative of President Medvedev in the last years we embarked on a number of reforms aimed at improving the business climate. There has been no noticeable breakthrough so far," Putin wrote. 
 
Putin has also suggested that the political reforms that Medvedev is trying to shepherd through the State Duma -- restoring the election of governors and easing the rules for the registration of parties and presidential candidates -- were far from a done deal and could be halted.
 
And in a recent interview with the daily "Izvestiya," the filmmaker Stanislav Govorukhin, who heads up Putin's campaign team, sharply criticized Medvedev  for not working harder to secure his patron's election in March. 
 
"I have a feeling that he is keeping silent," Govorukhin told the staunchly pro-Putin daily, adding that it would be "more appropriate if [Medvedev] took an active part in the campaign of the man whom he himself forwarded as a presidential candidate" at the September 24 United Russia party congress.
 
But as Maksim Glikin wrote in "Vedomosti" on January 30, it was on that fateful day last autumn that Medvedev essentially wrote his own political obituary:
 
He has already accomplished his mission and made room for Putin.... The moment Medvedev did this he became expendable. The people who are interested in Medvedev's future know better than to wonder if he is going to return to the Kremlin one fine day. They wonder how long he will last as the prime minister. Even that, however, is a question for Medvedev's master and not for Medvedev himself.
 
The death of the tandem, however, has political consequences for Putin. 
 
The constituencies that once placed their hopes in Medvedev, the technocratic wing of the elite and the urban professional class in society, are deeply uncomfortable or outright hostile to Putin's return to the Kremlin. And this will make it much harder for him to govern, regardless of what happens on March 4.
 
-- Brian Whitmore
 

Tags: Vladimir Putin,Putin-Medvedev tandem,Dmitry Medvedev

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
February 03, 2012 02:25
Mr. Whitmore continues to discuss the topic with which everything is clear for a long timе and аll answers received.

It would be interesting to know where Putin asked Medvedev to be a clown president for 4 years
in the bath,
gym,
pub
What do you think about it, Mr.Whitmore?

On the other hand it is still better than Yeltsin's style- when decisions are taken after a glass of vodka or because of a severe headache from a hangover..
Next, begin to explore why in Russia is not so as in the West?
What actually affects the "mysterious Russian soul" ?
climate,
the area,
Tunguska meteorite..
seen that all factors together.

I wonder where Mr.Whitmore decide to write a certain article?
He enjoys the style of Yeltsin or Putin?

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 03, 2012 20:23
Fresh figures from opinion polls taken in Russia on the eve of the upcoming pres. elections:
Putin: 52 %
Zyuganov (Communist Party) - 8 %
Zhirinovsky ("Lib. Dem.") - 8%
Mironov (pro-Kremlin moderate "left") - 4%
Prokhorov (an oligarkh promoted by the Western media) - 4 %
Source: http://news.mail.ru/politics/8002946/?frommail=1
In Response

by: Anonymous from: USA
February 04, 2012 19:48
Who cares? Some were not even allowed to participate (Yavlinsky), thanks to a corrupt political system.
In Response

by: La Russophobe from: USA
February 07, 2012 13:00
Well, Putin cares. If he massages that 52% up to just over 60% and waltzes back into power in a landslide with no serious opposition and no elections for another five years, he'll likely be quite satisfied. As much as he was looking at this: http://www.ridus.ru/_ah/img/dl970h1_gN45KnJ-v6GPwA
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 07, 2012 15:07
Well, as far as Yavlinsky is concerned, his score has remained pretty stable over the last decade - 2% and congratulations! As far as your "who cares" comment is concerned, well, obviously, the info is posted only for those who are interested in it. If someone doesn't care, he/she does not need to feel obliged to react :-)).

by: La Russophobe from: USA
February 07, 2012 12:58
Brian, do you have ANY evidence that "the constituencies that once placed their hopes in Medvedev, the technocratic wing of the elite and the urban professional class in society" are capable of ANY serious action to block Putin's power once he is swept back into office and will not face another election for FIVE YEARS? They have no political party, no presidential candidate, no fundraising, no platform, and no national reach. Navalny said he was taking off the WHOLE MONTH OF JANUARY to put forth a much bigger protest in February, and he totally failed. The showing was smaller and less political than last time, not more. In a nation of 60 million Internet users, Navalny has less than 200K Twitter followers, and for all the world appears to be stuck in place. I see NO indication that the "constituency" you refer to is capable of laying it all on the line to block Putin from consolidating a neo-Soviet dictatorship and passing power to a hand-picked successor who will do the same.

About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers 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

Latest Podcasts