Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Leon Aron draws a comparison between what President Dmitry Medvedev appears to be attempting to do, and the radical transformation brought about by Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of glastnost and perestroika. Though Medvedev is still living on “borrowed power” from Putin, we will have to look for decisive signs of a real breakaway from Putinism.
Like Gorbachev, Medvedev will soon discover that no progress — economic, political, social — is possible without restoring a modicum of trust between the state and society, the power and the people.
This will not be an easy task. The most damaging legacy of Putinism has been the pervasive cynicism born of daily powerlessness amid lies, corruption and cruelty. The reaction of the Russian independent media (confined largely to the Internet) to Medvedev’s rhetorical offensive epitomizes this attitude: Cautiously hopeful comments have been more than counterbalanced by skepticism or even outright dismissal and derision because of the glaring mismatch between words and deeds.