A Split in the Tandemocracy?

split123008.jpgVarious observers are beginning to note some early, outward indications that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev are growing apart.  Russophobe points to a comment piece by Vladimir Frolov as the beginning of a new narrative to blame the mishandling of Georgia on Medvedev, while this latest piece in the Financial Times indicates a new sense of assertiveness of behalf of the president – which naturally is not well received by Putin.  Is the new “cavalier” attitude from the president a reflection of frustration that none of his judicial reform and anti-corruption initiatives are making it past the Putinistas?

It was an innocuous sounding comment in what appeared to be a routine television interview. But in the six days since Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, described his feelings about taking the oath of office in May, the corridors of power have been buzzing.

“The final responsibility for what happens in the country and for the important decisions taken would rest on my shoulders alone and I would not be able to share this responsibility with anyone,” Mr Medvedev told an interviewer. (…)

Personal relations between the two men are warm, but most attemptsby Mr Medvedev to pursue independent policies have been thwarted.Anti-corruption measures he championed were changed by Russia’s usuallysupine parliament in October. According to Russian press reports, plansby Mr Medvedev to appoint independent judges were thwarted by Putinallies.

Mr Medvedev’s big legislative success has been aconstitutional change to lengthen the presidential term from four tosix years, which has sailed through the approval process. The reason?”Everyone understood that this was Putin’s idea,” said theRussian-language version of Newsweek

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centrethink-tank, said: “I don’t think he [Medvedev] is amused that. . . heis regarded as a junior partner.”

However, the economic crisis could test both men. LilyaShevtsova of the Carnegie Centre said: “They both understand thatthe. . . system of power depends on them getting along.”