Well if the 2012 election has unofficially kicked off in Russia, the Western media has officially started failing to cover it in a meaningful way. Last night, the Associated Press published a wire report entitled, Russia’s Medvedev Hints He May Not Run Again, Clearing Way for Putin. And of course, being an AP wire, the story has been picked up in virtually every major newspaper of the United States, sending it on a hyperdrive course into the realm of Established Truth. The only problem is, Medvedev neither hinted nor cleared ways during his interview at Dozhd (rain) television station.
You can read a Russian transcript of the interview with Medvedev here, but below is a translation of the relevant question (which were submitted by viewers, btw):
Zygar: Sooner or later of course you will no longer be president – in 2012 or 2018.
Medvedev: [that is] absolutely correct.
Zygar: Have you already thought about what you might do after? Perhaps, you will be involved in some innovative business?
Medvedev: That’s a very good question, Mikhail. Now I am always asked the same question – will you run for president or not? And if you do not run for president, then do you see yourself in government service? But nobody asked the human question – what will you do once you have finished your work [in government service]? I can say – it is not a simple issue to find another life after holding such a post.
Zygar: To imagine Bush or Obama after being in power is possible, but to imagine Medvedev or Putin after being in power is practically impossible.
Medvedev: Yes, especially because the whole experience of the preceding [Soviet] era showed that when a person leaves power, his life is for the most part over. An exception to this is Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin. He already was, of course, quite old but nevertheless in his final years he lived an interesting life – he traveled a lot, read books, and in this way was lucky. What will I do? I honestly do not know. But I am confident that I will find interesting work. I also have a large number of hobbies that, like any person, I will pursue after my time in state service. Basically, I would like to enjoy an active life. And there are these new technologies that you have which I like very much.
Sindeeva: Teaching, perhaps?
Medvedev: Sure. Certainly at Skolkovo. If everything by that time is working well, I would like to teach there. I would also like to teach at other places, because I think any former head of state must tell about both his positive and negative experiences, both in his own country and elsewhere.
As you can see, Medvedev’s statement is explicitly NOT a discussion about the 2012 election, as he points out in his initial response. Furthermore, how is nobody interpreting this as a subtle hint to Putin? The message is, don’t be like guys in the Soviet era, who clung to power until they died. Enjoy yourself, like Boris Nikolaevich did! See, he read books, if by read you mean drank and by books you mean vodka. And what about the reference to teaching outside of the country? Code for “I’ll let you flee to the UK”? In any case, Medvedev’s statements are a little more gray than the AP report led its readers to believe.
Below is video of Medvedev’s interview on Dozhd: