I’m not sure I buy all the arguments made by Dmitri Trenin in this piece, though that comment about “raw meat and the taste of blood” is pretty suggestive of what he thinks of the prime minister. I think there are several indications that the tandemocracy is temporary, not permanent, and it’s hard to imagine that this suspension between two poles, the will-they-won’t-they of reform, is sustainable in the long term before the public, especially in light of the economic trouble down the road.
Putin is no King Lear. He understands leadership and control, and does not plan to retire. But Medvedev, today’s front-office guy, is more of a junior partner than a simple salesperson.
He may yet grow in stature and influence, and eventually inherit the store. One thing is clear, though: he does not like raw meat and the taste of blood.
Thus, Putin’s governing pact with Medvedev, his trademark creation, is likely to remain in force. Both members need each other.
So the real issue is not whether the noises that Putin and Medvedev make suggest real divergence, and a potential for rivalry, but whether there is daylight at the end of the tandem. Or, to put it differently, whether they choose modernization or marginalization.