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:
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