Historians will record this as the “election lost” for Dmitry Medvedev. Despite what many think, he came close to a challenge of Vladimir Putin’s return and the remaining implications of that fracturing of their relationship aren’t over by a long shot.
Medvedev as Prime Minister? We’re yet to be convinced.
For now, serious money for now is on Alexei Kudrin. The conditions surrounding his firing by Medvedev just days after the announcement was a clear sign of Kudrin’s loyalty to Vladimir Putin.
So today, Saturday 15 October, Dmitry Medvedev met with his staff and key strategy supporters. Many would be surprised if they knew that many observers say this group represents a majority of the Steering Committee of United Russia, the party that will send Vladimir Putin to the polls in March to be reelected as president following Medvedev’s announcement not to run. If true, that would be telling–political parties are useful tools for policy debates and implementation, but the real decisions are made by unseen power brokers in the shadows.
Close observers could write page after page of behind the scenes maneuvering that went on between the Spring “bicycle” meeting when the two men met in a Moscow park up to the August fishing trip. Just thinking of the task is exhausting.
The burning question is this; what did Mikhail Gorbachev know, and when?
On the very day that Medvedev and Putin were off on a very private and unannounced (the Mendeleyev Journal had same day photos however) Ashkatan fishing trip on the Volga river, Mikhail Gorbachev was speaking to a large gathering in Moscow. Mr. Gorbachev’s theme was very anti-Putin and seen by many as a way to take the Medvedev message to influential power brokers while providing political cover to Medvedev who was, well, “gone fishing” with Putin.
The strategy backfired.
Even as former CCCP President Gorbachev gave the speech of his life in defense of a new way for the future, and as Business Insider magazine among others were trumpeting that the two men would be rivals for the election, apparently Putin and Medvedev were “cutting bait.”
Back to the future. Today’s meeting was gracious and even had it’s moments of laughter. There were also some private tears. This was to have been a campaign about hope and about the future, not a return to the moribund Brezhnev reign.
The price of stepping forward and speaking out is that many of these folks will very likely be looking for new jobs after the elections. Even so, at least they are a testament to a new generation of less-than apathetic Russian voters.
Perhaps that is a start.