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Medvedev Vs Putin: The Dilemma Of Elections With Predictable End – OpEd

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Although the possibility of a spectacular turn up in next year’s presidential elections in the Russian Federation is as likely as the transformation of Siberia in the tropical forest, however the media’s curiosity about the person who will be the next candidate remains at its highest. Or is it more like a PR game that the press seems to have been joined by drum-rolled and trumpets. Any output in public a high official from Russia finally gets the same question: Who will runs – Medvedev or Putin ?

Around tandem pointed, about its unity or possible splitting is discussed more intense than on political programs, priorities and substantial problems of Russian society. There isn’t even a bit of suspense on the possibility of a surprise candidate. Recent moves from Sergey Mironov’s party led to some speculation in what concerns the Head of the Mission of Russia to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin. But just as quickly Ambassador Rogozin declined the existence of such a possibility. The chaos and lack of unity in the bosom of the fragile opposition excludes the chance of a viable candidate, no matter how vocal would like Nemtsov or Kasparov. Candidates by profession from the LDPR – Zhirinovsky and the Communists – Zyuganov will only provide a vague feeling of democratic elections. However, recently in Stockholm, premier Putin, although he reiterated that it is too early to decide who is the future candidate, assured journalists that they will like what will hear. Until Vladimir Vladimirovich decide to make public its offer, one undeniable of course, take a look at the scene of Moscow in search of possible clues.

The most publicized event in late April was set aside by the Kremlin the advisory contracts with the FEP, think-tank managed by Gleb Pavlovsky. The explanations of both parties, although not contradictory, they had different versions. Thus, the Kremlin sources have referred briefly to the differences of vision and an excess of zeal in his support pro Medvedev in the 2012 presidential election, but well-known ideologue said in an interview to RosBusinessConsalting (RBK Daily) that the separation occurred due the contradiction between the two of his simultaneously qualities: formal and ideological political consultant of Kremlin and commentator active of Moscow politics stage, noticed that the his withdrawal was a mutual agreement and not a unilateral decision. According to Vedomosti newspaper, the Kremlin’s separation from Gleb Pavlovsky has been decided by the deputy chief of staff of the Presidential Administration, Vladislav Surkov. What upset so bad the Gray Cardinal of the Kremlin? Why he was so very angry with his ideologist colleague ? Beyond the palace intrigues and the Pavlovsky’s statements that somewhat surprising, notice that not long ago, Levada Center released a poll which asked “Who would you like candidates in 2012 – Putin or Medvedev?” – The results say that 27% of those polled said Vladimir Putin, the 25% they not wish any of those, and only in third place with 18% is the current president. At the same time, 80% of respondents admitted that Putin still has a paramount influence on political life of the Russian Federation. There are figures that say many about the effectiveness of Kremlin policy advisers, such I think that the separation of Pavlovsky’s think-tank will not raises big regrets. In addition, is easy to guess that Vladislav Surkov, also called the Kremlin’s gray eminence (title to which I rather agree as result of strategies to keep him on top not for high valuable ideology) is probably preparing a new strategy toward its positioning that to make him again winner. In fact, repudiated Pavlovsky himself admits that to swing between the tandem Putin – Medvedev involves some risks. But also tricks to keep up in favor of power.

Even if it seems hard to quantify Putin government’s effectiveness, given the global economic crisis has been felt acutely by two years of economic recession of the Russian Federation, though, according to Mundo Index, the total population which living below the poverty level decreased in the last two years nearly 3 percent, from 15.8% to 13.1%. And if the foreign investors were not too confident to venture into business in Russia, the specter of bureaucracy and corruption making it a total unattractive area, though many rich Russians had not “exile” their wealth in Western European banks. Analysts interpreted this as an increase of confidence in the banking system of the Russian Federation.

Of course, nobody denies that Medvedev has brought Russia’s growing influence in international relations, openly recognized even by the United States, and importance like an international mediator, as stated by President UN, Ban Ki-moon during a visit last month to Moscow. But these are issues and aspects harder to discern by the general population that will be submitted to the polls. And much publicized strategy for modernization of Russia, assiduously promoted by the team of President Medvedev, beyond a successful PR is still far from reality as concrete shape. Here are some issues that weigh sympathy, or at least a rational intention to vote in favor of Putin.

Medvedev’s chance to run and to be a valid candidate is virtually zero without the blessing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, because is a utopia to believe that someone could wins national election without the party support and its solid infrastructure, infrastructure that currently can be provided only by the ruling party. It spoke one moment about the possible splitting of United Russia between the liberal and conservative wings, the first to become a party belonged current president. Then the things have remained just press rumors. With less than a year before the election I think that such a variant is unlikely to be effective. Moreover, Boris Gryzlov said that the United Russia party will support to Vladimir Putin as a candidate if he will engage in the electoral race. Subsequently, Prime Minister urged the ruling party to focus on the parliamentary elections that to be held later this year and to refrain from commenting on the presidential election. As the disorientation game to be complete, also last month, Konstantin Zatulin, a senior United Russia party, was dismissed as deputy president of the State Duma’s Committee for Relations with the CIS because of a statement that Putin would have to apply for a another term as president. According to Zatulin, the order of his dismissal would have been given in Surkov’s office too. Soon afterwards, another official of the same party, Alexei Chadayev, was dismissed for a critical statement on Medvedev’s position about Western intervention in Libya.

But the specified delay from the White House, the seat of Russian government and from the Kremlin, maybe dictated by considerations of strict evaluation of the citizens options (Levada Center poll is just one aspect). Especially in conditions predicted a possible new global economic crisis. The oxygen balloon provided Russia’s economy by increasing oil and natural gas prices due to movements in the Middle East will be stopped at least one time after the U.S. announcement on the killing of Al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden. And I think it’s interesting to see what happens in Russian fuel crisis as a result of state intervention regarding gasoline prices. Concluding, there are capital inflows, but also an uncomfortable feeling of the investors who consider that the indecision on the nomination for the Kremlin candidate may have a negative impact on capital movements. Meanwhile, Russia’s Central Bank raised its main interest rate by 0.25 basis points to 8.25 percent (after a similar move in February) in an attempt to combat the inflationary pressure which is at a level higher than anticipated, but also to control the potential influence through which the movements of the major capital markets would endanger the fragile economic recovery.

Some analysts believe that Medvedev’s team are trying to establish a pact with Putin to provide support the current president for a second term. I would say unlikely. Currently, Putin is 59 years old, and the next term in the Kremlin will be five years, in compliance with the new constitutional provisions. So in 2017, Putin will reach 65 years and a possible mandate to the Kremlin would be fix 70 years old. It means a single term and a perspective that certainly don’t delight to the premier; moreover Russia trying thoroughly to get rid the emblem of leaders which are on the verge of old age. Instead, the young Russian president has time on his side. Even admitting the possibility of two terms for the current prime minister, in 2022 year Medvedev – if would like to run – he will be younger than is now prime minister Putin.
Deliberately or not, the prelude of nomination to the future candidate with real chances to win the elections can be a fun game for the mass-media certainly. Unfortunately, for most part of the Russian Federation’s population is a sad version of a manipulation designed to capture public attention in excess by the useless ankles game under the banner of democracy. Population which, tired of duels televised, and exchanges to provocative statements, and sovereign democracy or autocratic liberalism, and image games that it feels far from the interests of simple people, could not be present to vote. Because, the absenteeism is a form of democratic protest also. And that, fortunately (?!), at least not end behind bars.

After many speculations likely … one certainty is that after he showed us that is a blogger of “high level”, Dmitry Medvedev recently admitted that there is life … after the Kremlin too… (Well, I would say that there is life … especially after !) … and he would be tempted by a career to Skolkovo, or as journalist or political commentator. That is, thus happens throughout the Western world. Politolog Nikolae Zlobin wrote on his blog that at a meeting with Alexander Voloshin, former eminence gray of the Moscow political scene, Mr. Voloshin had said that he knows who will be the next president of Russia. He asked Zlobin to sign a paper and put the date: May 1, 2011. After he wrote the name of the new democrat czar and folded paper. They will see if his prediction was correct in announcing election results in 2012. What name was calligraphically there ?

Usual dilemma: Putin or Medvedev ?  I bet on Vladimir Putin. The chances are, however, at least 50% regardless of the name.

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Gabriela Ionita

Gabriela Ionita is editor to Cadran Politic (http://www.cadranpolitic.ro), analyst in the field of International affairs (mainly connected with the Russian Federation and Community of Independent States). Also maintains a frequently updated blog Power&Politics World (http://gabrielaionita.wordpress.com). She graduated from the National School of Political and Administrative Sciences - Bucharest, specialization in Communication and Public Relations. Ms. Ionita lives in Bucharest City, and can be reached via e-Mail at gabriela.ionita(at)mail.ru.

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