It is particularly illustrative (no pun intended) of how the Western media views the nomination of Dmitri Medvedev to look at the various graphic arts work published along with the articles. Two of the more amusing are below, from the New York Times’s “Russia’s Knockoff Democracy” (left) and the Economist, whose headline on the cover ran “Putin’s Mini-Me” (right). Excerpts after the cut.
The New York Times:
“Every country has a genetic code,” Mr. Nikonov said. “In many societies, the patterns of government last for centuries, or last for a millennium, and I think that Russia is the same. There is quite a strong tradition of undivided government. There is only one thing that Russians do not like in their leaders. That is weakness.”“The institutions are still not here, they are immature,” Mr. Nikonov said. “Still, for a 15-year-old democracy, Russia is doing well. In Germany, they elected Hitler exactly on the 15th year of democracy.”Mr. Putin himself, while regularly praising what he says are the strides Russia has made in recent years, occasionally seems to be pleading for patience, as if he were acknowledging that the democracy Russia has put in place is not the real thing.“This road is not simple,” he said in September. “It takes time and the right groundwork and conditions. We need to ensure that our economic transformations bring about the growth of the middle class, which is to a large extent the standard bearer of this ideology. This is something that takes time and cannot be achieved overnight.”
The Kremlin’s machinations have revealed a simple truth: that the authoritarian system created by Mr Putin in the past eight years does not allow an orderly transition of power from one elite to another. Kirill Rogov, a political analyst, points out that elections, which in a democratic society act as a mechanism for rotating power, have in Russia become a mechanism for preserving it.This reverses the biggest achievement of Boris Yeltsin’s short-lived, imperfect democracy: a peaceful transfer of power. The manner in which Mr Yeltsin handed power to Mr Putin in December 1999 was not ideal, but he did step down and let somebody else take charge. Mr Putin seems unable to repeat that. Indeed, so as to hang on to power, he may be prepared to undermine the institution of a strong presidency that he helped to create.For all the talk of stability, Russia is in some ways less stable than it was. Mr Putin has been lucky to enjoy an oil boom that filled up state coffers and fanned economic growth. But the underlying economy has not been diversified or restructured. Inflation is running in double digits, domestic gas and electricity prices need to be raised and the outlook for the world economy is suddenly gloomier. Yet the biggest danger for Russia remains political