Which is why this comment, at the tail end of an interview Pavlovsky gave to "Russky zhurnal" (which, by the way, he owns) and published online at Kreml.org, caught my attention -- big time:
This does not of course mean that Putin should depart into the shadows and not show his face. I see a future parting of the ways here. Medvedev must become a strong president and Putin as a politician who is not old and is not weak must reform the inertia of his leadership into something new. For the moment this is an open situation.
In many ways, Pavlovsky, a longtime Kremlin spinmeister who heads the Effective Policy Foundation, is a barometer of the Russian elite. He is the consummate insider who knows where the political winds are blowing. In fact, he is one of a handful of people who makes the political winds blow.
And he is saying, very clearly and very publicly, that the political winds are no longer at Putin's back and that he needs to step aside and let Medvedev come into his own:
Writing on the increasingly influential website Slon.ru, the blogger Konstantin Gaaze opined that "for those in the know, all the signs of a policy text are present" in the Pavlovsky interview. Gaaze adds: "Pavlovskiy's message is simple: the time has come for Medvedev to hire a team. And then the 'Medvedev Majority' will be formed."
Pavlovsky's interview leaves me with a few questions that I suspect we will see answered soon enough.
Is this a trial balloon or some kind a provocation? If not, are a critical mass of the elite actually on board with Medvedev becoming a "real" president? Is Putin? Are the siloviki? And if they are, what did Medvedev have to promise to get them on board?
And if everybody is not on board, is a decisive showdown looming on the horizon?
At the very least, this puts Medvedev's recent moves against Russia's powerful state corporations and his efforts to get an ally named Prosecutor-General in a whole new light. Not to mention, that little bonding session the president and premier had in Sochi.
-- Brian Whitmore