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The Tandem Two-Step

President Dmitry Medvedev (left) with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a restaurant in St. Petersburg on November 21.
President Dmitry Medvedev (left) with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a restaurant in St. Petersburg on November 21.
Half of Russia's ruling tandem was in Moscow and the other half was in Rome.

But the geographic distance wasn't enough to prevent a cross border conversation between President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and about which of them will occupy the Kremlin after 2012.

At a nationally televised question and answer session with carefully vetted ordinary Russians today, Putin said he would "think about it" when asked if he planned to seek the presidency in 2012. And when asked about whether he had any plans to retire from politics and enjoy a quiet life, he deadpanned: "Don't hold your breath."

It wasn't long for that news to travel south to the Italian capital, where Medvedev was holding a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

"Prime Minister Putin said he doesn't rule out this possibility and I also say I don't rule it out," Medvedev said when asked about Putin's comment. "But this is only if Mr. Medvedev and Mr. Putin have a chance," he added, pretending for his Italian hosts that Russian elections are anything but heavily choreographed and predetermined events.

But the symmetry didn't stop there. Putin went out of his way to stress his close ties and good working relationship with Medvedev:

We have known each other many, many years. Both of us graduated from the same university, learned from one and the same professors, who instilled in us not only knowledge but a similar approach to life.

And here's Medvedev in Rome: "We are close to each other and work well together. We can come to an agreement. We will take a reasonable decision."

Wow. It's almost as if the whole thing were...orchestrated.

You can read our recap of the Putin show here.

-- 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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