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Medvedev as the Second Coming of Gorbachev

medvedev062508.jpgBack in May Andreas Umland published an article entitled “Gorbachev Number Two: Dmitry Medvedev,” which put forward a rare argument for the potential future of Russia’s new president playing a Gorbachev-like role as a reformer. He writes: “Gorbachev´s experiences as a young man, his political rhetoric before becoming the Soviet Union´s leader, and his democratic reforms once he felt secure enough to launch them correspond with each other. A similar fit between rhetoric and action is to be expected in Medvedev´s further rise should the office of the President of the RF retain, at least, a part of its current prerogatives. (…) Nevertheless, sooner or later it is to be expected that Medvedev´s deeper political beliefs – his apparently liberal and democratic views – will come to the fore.” This argument of Medvedev-as-reformer was jumped on by Vladimir Frolov, who used it as a starting point of debate for one of his peanut galleries of pundits he frequently moderates over at Russia Profile. Much more interesting is Umland’s long-awaited qualifying retort to the various opinions voiced in the debate – containing no shortage of “fightin’ words.” Why bother with punditry if you’re not going to predict, he asks. Umland reserves the biggest burn in the piece for Eric Kraus and his limp defense of authoritarianism, but just about everybody gets a slap in this polemic. This is about as close as we get to a “smackdown” in the, ahem, civilized English-language debate on Russia, so take advantage…