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How Medvedev Could Carve Out His Independence

medved030408.jpgMatt Stone at The Global Buzz lists several reasons why an eventual rupture between Vladimir Putin and president-elect Dmitri Medvedev could lead to a genuine shift of power in Moscow:

1. Constitutionally and traditionally, the office of president confers more power to its holder than the office of prime minister. 2. Medvedev commands a lot of respect and loyalty inside Gazprom, the state-owned gas giant for which he has served as chairman. Because Gazprom is a very powerful state entity unto itself – the tail that sometimes wags the dog – Medvedev has a built-in support base to counter the former KBG cadres (the siloviki) that have remained loyal to Putin. 3. Loyalty to power and authority are very Russian qualities, stemming (probably) from a historical legacy of very powerful individual rulers. Insofar as the office of president confers status and power to Medvedev over a Prime Minister Putin, how loyal will the elite remain to Putin over Medvedev?

4. Does Putin underestimate Medvedev? Does more than 16 years of loyalty make a man blind to the ambition or the political wiles of his deputy?5. The ‘Putin fatigue’ factor. Every bureaucrat and politician in Russia is ambitious and looking for opportunities for advancement. For the past eight years, the bureaucracy has become stultified. Advancement, and the subsequent opportunities for enrichment, were predicated on whether Putin likes/trusts you. A new president, even one as cut from Putin’s own cloth as Medvedev, shakes things up. To what extent will some political and business elites who felt sidelined or under-appreciated by President Putin try to convince a President Medvedev to stab Putin in the back? And to what extent do certain factions try to preempt this possibility by interfering in the functioning of President Medvedev’s administration – and does this provoke a backlash from the Medvedev cohort?

Read the original blog post here.