Split? What Split?

Dmitry Sidorov, Kommersant’s man in Washington, has a lengthy piece in Forbes today about President Medvedev’s alleged “split” with Putin over issues of human rights and liberal Democracy. Fat chance, says Sidorov:

“Adherents of this view are engaging in wishful thinking, and they risk falling into a trap set by the Kremlin,” writes Sidorov. “Medvedev is loyal to Putin. If there is a difference between them, it’s that the former is weak. Medvedev isn’t leading; he’s being led, as a Moscow businessman put it to me.

“A stronger Medvedev is a hypothetical that needs three conditions to become a reality. First, the prime minister himself must want it to happen. Second, Medvedev needs to create a powerful team of governors and regional security-service heavyweights who are able to counter Putin’s team. And third, Medvedev must gain the support of big business.

“The first and second aren’t happening. Big business, for the most part, is siding with the prime minister. Information I have received from businesspeople in Moscow indicates that the owners of major Russian companies would like to see Putin return to the presidency.”