Simon Tisdall at the Guardian thinks that Dmitry Medvedev is carving out enough independence to perhaps carry a second term in office. Though his argument is gently suggestive, though there isn’t much evidence to support it.
Medvedev, formerly Putin’s campaign manager, had not held public office before his election last year – and would likely have remained an obscure apparatchik but for Putin’s endorsement. But speculation, rife 12 months ago, that the new man was merely keeping the presidential podium warm pending an inevitable Putin return in 2012, is subsiding. Kremlin insiders now suggest Medvedev is in the process of acquiring sufficient political clout to chart an independent future. (…)
Russia still sees itself as a great power, a perception vigorously promoted by Putin. But the toughest challenge facing Medvedev may be to tailor and trim that inflated self-image to fit a less glamorous reality. Russian weakness, subtly exploited by Obama in Moscow, was the hidden story of the Putin years. In the Medvedev era, developing a law-abiding, economically diversified civil society at home while pursuing less un-civil, more co-operative behaviour abroad may be the path to returning strength and a second term.