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Medvedev’s Challenge

The FT is reporting today on the tough road ahead for Dmitri Medvedev to accomplish his boldly reformist agenda:

“We’ve tried to do this all before. A great deal was not implemented. Instead, they carried out completely different tasks which the country could have done without, such as increasing the role of the state and control over the electoral system and the media,” said Yevgeny Yasin, rector of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics and a co-author of Mr Putin’s programme in 2000. Mr Yasin said the sudden inflow of oil dollars as prices soared soon after Mr Putin came to power led the Kremlin to ditch most of the plan for liberal and institutional reform that he had helped plot. Instead of cutting back on the number of state officials, under Mr Putin the number has grown, as has corruption, Mr Yasin said. Implementing his plan “is going to be Mr Medvedev’s toughest task”. (…)

In a sign he could pursue a more liberal agenda than Mr Putin, he called for a reduction in the number of state officials on the boards of some of Russia’s biggest corporations. “They should be replaced by truly independent directors, which the state would hire to implement its plans,” he said.Analysts, however, said it was unlikely Mr Medvedev could move to reduce the number of officials on the boards of state-run corporations, not least because the government had just confirmed a long list of Kremlin candidates to sit on the boards of some of Russia’s biggest blue chips.Initially, Mr Medvedev will remain subordinated to Mr Putin, said Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-connected analyst. He said Mr Medvedev’s speech yesterday was more like one prepared by a “candidate for the prime minister post”, while Mr Putin was the “real leader.”But he added: “There are no conflicts between them. The same people are writing their speeches. This is part of the same programme.”