Friday, 26 November 2010

Medvedev admits that Russia is a one-party state

Russia´s president Dmitry Medvedev seems to distance himself from his mentor Vladimir Putin:

MOSCOW: President Dmitry Medvedev has admitted that Russia is a one-party state with no meaningful opposition in an apparent attempt to distance himself from the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin.

In a video blog on the Kremlin's website, Mr Medvedev said the country's political system showed dangerous signs of stagnation, a phrase that Russians use to evoke the moribund period when the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was in power in the 1970s.

Mr Medvedev said the ruling United Russia party, led by Mr Putin, should not be packed with ''dummies and performers'' or be a mere appendix to the executive branch of government.

Robert Amsterdam publishes a translation of the paragraph everybody is talking about in Moscow:

What do we want to achieve? We simply want to make our political system more fair, more flexible, more dynamic, and more open to renewal and development. It must enjoy the confidence of our electorate. It is no secret that for some time now signs of stagnation have begun to appear in our political life and stability has threatened to turn into stagnation. And such stagnation is equally damaging for both the ruling party and opposition forces. If the opposition has no chance at all of winning a fair fight it degrades and becomes marginal. If the ruling party never loses a single election, it is just coasting. Ultimately, it too degrades, like any living organism which remains static.For these reasons it has become necessary to raise the degree of political competition.

However, Amsterdam is not too impressed by Medvedevs fair words:

To see Medvedev mention "stagnation" three times in a row, which quickly calls to mind the drifting of the Brezhnev era, might be interpreted as a gentle criticism of Vladimir Putin. But this is hard to swallow, for as many times as we have been asked to believe that there exists a "rift," a "split," a "divide," or that "a wedge" could be driven between them if we could somehow change how we view Russia (i.e., the reset) to elicit this promising behavior.

Instead, there is of course no rift, or at least nothing beyond a useful ruse.  Russian politics increasingly represents a corny good-cop-bad-cop routine, with Putin getting the choice role, able to consistently say what most Russians want to hear - how great the country is, how great the state is, and how boundless the pride.  Medvedev gets to be the bad cop, consigned to dirty work of having saying something depressing but true - that Russia's current political system is rotten to the core, and that the country shouldn't continue to pretend that it is unaware of institutional stagnation.

Neither should European leaders be too impressed by Medvedevs words. Proof of the pudding is in the eating. And Putin - for the time being on a "charm offensive" in Germany - is the one calling the shots in Russia.

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