Interesting comments from Igor Yurgens in Bloomberg:
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin should let President Dmitry Medvedev, his protégé, seek re-election in 2012 rather than return to the Kremlin and risk unrest like that in Tunisia this month, a Medvedev adviser said.
“Look at what is happening in Tunisia,” Igor Yurgens, who heads a research institute set up by Medvedev, said yesterday in an interview. “People won’t understand why Russia can’t choose a new, more modern-looking person who is more open to the outside world. Everyone is fed up at seeing the same face.” (…)
“When a single person stays in power for a long time, even if he is a very good person and was brilliant at the start” there needs to be a change, said Yurgens, chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Development in Moscow.
As always, beware of elite trends. Medvedev has overtaken Putin in popularity polls in Moscow, but not nationally. Besides, was Ben Ali’s only mistake that he chose to stay in power instead of using a placeholder? Just like the Kremlin, the regime in Tunisia also created fake opposition parties in an effort to manage dissent and mimic the democratic process … they did a good enough job for the World Bank and State Department to approve, but the charade wasn’t convincing enough for the people. As long as oil prices are this high, it doesn’t seem likely that the Russian leadership is sufficiently scared of their own people to make any real changes.