Friday, May 29, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Medvedev a True Reflection of Putin ‘Politburo,’ Pavlova Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, May 29 – Many Russian analysts and politicians continue to devote a great deal of time and attention to “the smallest indications” President Dmitry Medvedev disagrees with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the hopes that the former will change the course of the latter, a Moscow commentator says.
But in an essay posted online this week, Irina Pavlova says that many people are deceiving themselves about this reality because they hope that all that is necessary to force Putin into retirement and thus allow Medvedev the change to promote their preferred version of the “modernization” of Russia (
That is because, she says, Medvedev is very much part of the current regime, and it is thus far more useful to base one’s conclusions not on this thin hope but rather on a clear-headed understanding that “the existing system of power that be operates on the basis of the laws of conspiracy” rather than in the ways of a normal state.
“The basic decisions,” she argues, “are taken by a secret Politburo,” and these decisions can be divined only after the fact by observing what the Russian regime actually does. Consequently, Medvedev must bear responsibility for even “the most unpopular decisions,” regardless of what outsiders to this process may think of his motives.
Indeed, Pavlova continues, the statements of the Russian president, however much they are attended to by outsiders should not be regarded “as other than disinformation,” a reflection of “the specific feature of conspiratorial power used to disorient public opinion and cover [the regime’s] own actions.”
The commentator then points to ten actions the regime has taken over the year Medvedev has been president and argues that any assessment of him and his intentions must be based on those rather than on the imputation of other and better motives as so many analysts of Russian affairs seem to engage in.
First, she points out, Medvedev has been extremely active. In his first year as president, he made 373 appointments, far more than the 241 Vladimir Putin made during the first 12 months of his rule, a pattern that suggests he is playing a big role rather than simply being a passive spectator of decisions with which he does not agree.
Second, during Medvedev’s first year, Moscow engaged in “secret preparation for the military conflict with Georgia,” “the occupation of part of Georgia’s territory,” “the creation of the ‘independent’ state formations of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” and “an information war” in support of those efforts.
Third, Medvedev and the Russian regime organized in September 2008 the interior ministry department for countering extremism. Fourth, he and it strengthened the system of political monitoring of its opponents. Fifth, he and it increased financial support for and technical supply of Russia’s special services.
Sixth, Medvedev and the regime introduced the constitutional amendments which extend the terms of the president and the Duma members. Seventh, he and it pushed through legislation that will allow the president to appoint the chief justice of the Constitutional Court and thus extend the regime’s “power vertical” to the judiciary.
Eighth, Medvedev and the regime came up with the draft legislation designed to punish anyone who questions the official version of the Soviet role in World War II. Ninth, he and it adopted “a course for the militarization of the country,” expanding the supply of weapons to the military even at a time of economic difficulties.
And tenth, the Russian president and the Russian government have been engaged in policies that set the stage for “new conflicts” with the country’s neighbors “who do not want to agree with Moscow’s policies” by opening “a new round of information war” against Georgia in the first instance and others as well.
This list, Pavlova points out, is far from complete, but she suggests even it provides sufficient data “for reflection” about what Medvedev and the powers that be of whom he is one are actually about. And she suggests that anyone who cares about Russia and its future should be asking Medvedev’s role is, rather than assuming he would like to move in a different direction.

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