Recent Posts

Biculturalism and the Apollo-Soyuz Mission

The final two short audio pieces from the Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia. “A Brief Conversation on Biculturalism” by Alexandra Diouk and “Remembering the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Mission: 45 years of US-Russian Space Cooperation” by Lisa Becker.

Trash Protests and Leninopad

Two short audio pieces from the Monterey Summer Symposium on Russia. “The Great Russian Trash Crisis” by Seth Farkas and  “An Empty Pedestal: Ukraine after Leninopad” by Sabrina Beaver.

Two Days and Counting . . .

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on reddit

Two days and counting before Dmitri Medvedev can lose the “elect” that sits after of his moniker President. The ceremony promises to be lavish and well choreographed. And why not? You can’t have a king without a coronation. But the question on everyone’s mind is not what Dima will do in his new position. It’s who’s in charge. Perhaps for once Russian and English language media are singing in chorus. Putin will be in charge. It’s just not clear how much.

One area VVP will certainly have sway is over the next cabinet. For the first time in a long time, the Russian Prime Minister, in this case Putin, will exercise his Constitutional right to form a government. According to Kommersant, the new government will probably look a lot like the old. Viktor Zubkov, Alexander Zhukov, Alexei Kudrin, all current vice premiers, will join the cabinet. As will Igor Sechin, Alexei Gromov, and Sergei Ivanov. Chief ideologist of Putinism, Vladislav Surkov will run Medvedev’s administration. These are all members of Putin’s clan. To solidify Putin bailiwick, there is speculation that Chapter 5, Article 32 of the 1997 law “On the Government of the Russian Federation” will be axed. Eliminating this article will strip the President’s power to appoint the heads of the military and foreign ministries.

Perhaps most important, especially if Medvedev intends to someday step out of his patron’s shadow, is that Putin’s appointments will give him a tight leash over the siloviki.

But what of Medvedev? How will he staff his administration? What does he intend to do? Few are asking because no one seems to know or really care. Nor is there any indication that Dima will spring any surprises. Besides pithy statements about fighting corruption and economic liberalization, it sounds that Dima’s role is to hold the ship steady, and remain, at least for the time being, the Skipper’s little buddy.

Honestly, how could it be anything different? Putin is the face of Russia in politics, kitsch, and culture. If Medvedev stepped into office and started shouting directions without a political base of his own, the siloviki would eat him alive. Plus, its not like Russian elite cares much. Apparently, they are too busy gorging themselves on the fat of the land to be concerned about the inner workings of Kremlin Inc.

Indeed, all seems right with the world if you’re looking out from a Kremlin window. But some refuse to drink the Kool-Aid. For them, Russia is eternally standing on the precipice of disaster. “I think one thing is dead clear. We have entered a period of profound instability in the country.” says Yevgenia Albats. In her view, “the double-headed state will inevitably lead to power struggles.”

Maybe. But that could ultimately be a good thing. Diarchy is better than nothing. Certainly better than autocracy.