On Russia Profile, Stephen Blank throws in his comment on Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new political party, among other opinions:
In Russia’s system it is apparent that Medvedev needs his own power base and this appears to be what he is trying to create. We should not overestimate the chances for democracy, although this could injure elite cohesion and lead to further reforms. For now, however, this initiative, if it takes place, is another Kremlin party, not an independent expression of autonomous social forces. That clearly is too much to stomach.
But reform from the top can only go so far. At some point autonomoussocial energies must be allowed to act on their own on behalf of theirconcept of Russia and Russian interests. Otherwise this resembles theatrophied party development of the Nicholas II period, and in some casesthose parties had more autonomous social support than the Kremlin’screations.
Relying on Chubais and Surkov is relying on “gosudarstvenniki” ratherthan on public actors who need to and can prove themselves inpublic. This is another of those gambits by which Russian reformersbelieve they can achieve liberal ends by autocratic means and it hasnever worked before.