Putin to Return to Presidency, Medvedev to be PM

So Russia’s elite has succumbed to ‘Titanic Syndrome’ – hoping to steal a bit more under the existing arrangement rather than squarely confront the serious problems that face their economy/society. It really is an unfortunate choice for Russia and do not believe for a second that this was decided ‘years ago’ as Putin and Medvedev suggested at the EdRos party conference. I am sure a lot of ink will be spilled arguing that it makes no difference, that Medvedev/Putin as President or PM still sits on top of the same underlying reality. I completely disagree – today marked a turning-point in post-Soviet Russian history, and Russia’s leaders could not have messed up more than they did.

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6 Responses to Putin to Return to Presidency, Medvedev to be PM

  1. Medvedev isn’t the lame duck, but also he isn’t Sorcerer’s Apprentice which to be exceeded his Master. And he knows that it is impossible to manage the country from one point as it is impossible to manage a country without political support. Especially, if we are talking about a huge country as Russia. Such comparisons analysis of text could run tens of pages.

  2. Whoever said that it was precisely Putin’s return that was “decided years ago”?

    • jesseheath says:

      From Putin’s speech at the EdRo conference: Хочу прямо сказать, что договорённость о том, что делать, чем заниматься в будущем, между нами давно достигнута. Уже несколько лет назад.

      From Medvedev’s speech at the EdRo conference: Я хочу полностью подтвердить то, что только что было сказано. То, что мы предлагаем съезду, это глубоко продуманное решение. И даже больше, мы действительно обсуждали этот вариант развития событий ещё в тот период, когда сформировался наш товарищеский союз.

      And FWIW I wrote that they “suggested” this, not that they precisely stated it. They certainly did NOT say something to the effect that “this was decided over the past week, month, etc”

  3. marknesop says:

    “Russia’s leaders could not have messed up more than they did.”

    Let’s have another look in 3 years and see if you’re right, shall we? I predict not. Oil supplies are forecast to tighten in 2012, and that likely means higher oil prices. Given Putin’s past record of fiscal prudence, Russia’s current account balance should continue in healthy surplus. If you mean Russia won’t be a western-style market democracy with strip malls and urban sprawl, you’re probably right, but that hasn’t got a lot to recommend it right now. Since the main proponent of that system doesn’t seem to be doing so good.

    • jesseheath says:

      Mark, just so I understand correctly, it seems you are implying that the “Washington Consensus” with respect to fiscal policy is tops, but is a sham when it comes to political systems. Is that right?

      In any case, let’s assume you are right – oil prices rise, and thus more money for Russia. But what is done with that money? Is it invested in new productive capacity, to boost oil exports and stimulate the development of nascent innovative industries? Or does the oil wealth lead to binge spending on foreign consumer goods? If it is the latter – which is consistent with Putin’s era – then a current account surplus would be an anomalous result because the money spent abroad and declining exports from lagging productive capacity would ultimately overtake the benefits of increased oil prices.

      And even if Russia continues with a ‘healthy surplus,’ this is just math – it’s a derivative indicator that may or may not say something about the underlying health of the economy. And here again, I would argue that 10 more years of Putin will not be kind to the underlying economy.

  4. marknesop says:

    I’m afraid I didn’t understand your first paragraph at all – what is the “Washington Consensus with respect to fiscal policy”?

    I completely agree this move was not decided years ago, and more likely began to coalesce within the last 8 months. I believe if Medvedev could have gotten Russia to a situation (or satisfied Putin that such was the case) whereby it was no longer a target for constant western meddling in its political process, Putin probably would have gone or perhaps accepted a subordinate role such as running the Olympics or something. But that will not happen in the immediate future, and I believe Putin feels a more authoritarian hand is needed for the present.

    Blowing the oil money on foreign consumer goods was characteristic of the Putin era? For who? I thought the state was extremely cagey with the oil money, and very farseeing in having salted it away for a rainy day instead of throwing it around – that surplus saved their bacon in the global financial crash. If you mean individual consumers, I suppose it’s a consequence of having more disposable income, which could hardly count as a negative for the government. A government that encourages its citizens to buy large homes when they don’t have steady jobs would be a good example of a negative for the government.

    The USA has an enormous deficit, and presumably that’s just math, too. But a lot of people seem quite worried about it.

    I don’t mean to be adversarial, because you obviously understand finance a great deal better than I. But I can’t grasp why a return by Putin is some kind of gasping horror when most analysts acknowledge he dragged the nation back from the brink of ruin and was the greatest Russian leader of the modern age. Especially when the only alternatives would be Medvedev or the Communists. Russia didn’t do badly under Medvedev, but it didn’t achieve anything remarkable, either, and I can’t believe the west wants the Communists back in the driver’s seat. There’s nobody in the Liberal stable who could be sent to look for lettuce in a green salad, and certainly nothing that sounds remotely like a plan for national greatness – just a lot of criticism of the only party that’s actually doing something.

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