Friday, December 10, 2010

Russia's Double Act Ready To Go On And On

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev has dropped a big hint that he's planning on standing again in the next presidential election in 2012. A senior aide has told the BBC that he believes Mr Medvedev does want a second term in the job.

This is a bit of a surprise. Mr Medvedev was plucked from relative obscurity by his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, to run for office in 2008. Mr Putin was prevented from doing so by Russia's constitution, which limits presidents to two consecutive terms. Mr Putin has since served as prime minister, but seeing as the constitution wouldn't prevent him becoming president again in 2012, it had been widely assumed that Mr Medvedev was basically marking time in The Kremlin before the real power behind the throne returned to the top job.

A former senior figure with state-owned energy giant Gazprom, Mr Medvedev has overseen an increasingly tough policy when it comes to oil and gas supplies. Indeed, he has continued the general theme of creating a strong Russia, keen to challenge rather than kowtow to the west, begun during the presidency of Mr Putin. It couldn't be more different from the Yeltsin years of the 1990s, when Russia and its economy struggled badly to adapt to the post-Soviet Union era, and its national pride took a fearful battering.

If Mr Medvedev does indeed try to stay on, it probably won't signal much of a change in that approach. Not least because Mr Putin would almost certainly have to agree that it would be a good idea. After all, Mr Medvedev doesn't appear to have much of a powerbase of his own in Russian politics and society. But if he does decide to go on and on, it would at least be a sign that Russia is now ruled more by a double act than primarily Mr Putin alone. The pair of them could dominate Moscow for a generation to come.

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