Saturday, September 22, 2012

Russia’s Board Is Set Up To Appear Like Solitaire But Political Chess Never Is

So a New York Times headline, Putin’s Russia Hits the ‘Clear’ Button on the Medvedev Era By ELLEN BARRY insinuates the cat’s out of the bag. Russian co-leadership is being rolled up and put away. Having never had more than symbolic strength for the game anyway, The Scapegoatshould have his place prepared soon.
As Ms. Barry tells it — Lately, it seems, no decree of Dmitri A. Medvedevis too small to overturn. So – Signs have emerged that Dmitri A. Medvedev occasionally acted against the wishes of Vladimir V. Putin. Starting, apparently, right after surrendering the Russian presidency toVladimir V. Putin.
Mr. Putin reversed his predecessor’s decision to decriminalize slander just eight months earlier. He raised the retirement age for top officials to 70, foiling Mr. Medvedev’s attempt to “rejuvenate” Russia’s government by imposing an age limit of 60, or 65 in special cases.
Still, inconsequential. A leader fashions their own stamp as Mr. Medvedev obviously might have also tried himself when figure-head of state. While it has not reached the point where Mr. Medvedev is being airbrushed from photographs, the four and a half months since he left the presidency have brought a pointed departure from his earlier course. The words “reset” or “modernization,” that Mr. Medvedev used, are seldom mentioned. And privatization of state-owned companies is in doubt and the direct gubernatorial elections Mr. Medvedev reinstated as a parting gesture have been weakened by the insertion of a Kremlin-controlled screening process for the candidates.
Still that shouldn’t spell an end to the hope of the good cop/bad cop era. Except there’s speculation – Criticism of Mr. Medvedev has begun to appear in mainstream outlets. Thursday’s news about rescinding Mr. Medvedev’s time change seemed like more of the same. Wrote journalist Mikhail Fishman on Facebook, “So in winter it will not get light an hour later, and in summer it will get dark an hour earlier: all this with only one goal: so that Mr. Medvedev, greeting the early dusk, will remember that he is nobody.”
The political consultant Gleb O. Pavlovsky marked the occasion coining the term “de-Medvedevization.”
But The Times reporter conjectures – It is too early to write off Mr. Medvedev, who recently turned 47. He is now prime minister and remains the leader of the governing United Russia party and the second-most-important politician in the country. A year ago he demonstrated his loyalty to Mr. Putin by walking away from a second term, and Mr. Putin is known to reward loyalty. All in all, this summer felt less like a decisive change of course than a period of frenetic transition, without a clear plan waiting at the end.
And how else would smoke and mirrors appear other than whimsical?
Still, according to The Times, there were unmistakable signs Mr. Medvedev was being cut down to size. On the fourth anniversary of the August 2008 war with Georgia, an event that lifted his popularity, and each anniversary he reminisced on television about the tough, solitary decision he made to send the army into Georgia while Mr. Putin was away in Beijing.
But – This year’s retrospectives were driven by the appearance of an anonymous documentary film in which retired generals excoriated Mr. Medvedev as timorous and cowardly. And when Mr. Putin was asked about the video, he responded by turning Mr. Medvedev’s narrative upside down, telling journalists he had personally approved plans for the assault in advance. That during the crisis he spoke repeatedly by phone to Mr. Medvedev and the Defense Ministry.
Lah de dah. Each man spoke from the point of view of their own political convenience. Name one instance that hasn’t happened?
Another blow that fell on Mr. Medvedev a few weeks later. Still just a public affair but hardly the stuff of all night Kremlin arguments that should bring tyrants to blows. No? well – While still president, Dmitri asked prosecutors to review the case of Taisiya Osipova, an opposition activist who had been sentenced to 10 years in prison on what her supporters said were fabricated drug charges. His complaint led to a reversal and retrial, in which prosecutors sought a more modest sentence of four years. But – In August the judge, in a highly unusual move, sentenced Ms. Osipova to twice that time.
Alexander Rahr, a Russia scholar and biographer of Mr. Putin, said hard-liners around Mr. Putin blamed Mr. Medvedev for the burst of dissent that shook the Kremlin last winter. According to this critique, Mr. Medvedev’s presidency ended the “climate of fear” created during Mr. Putin’s second presidential term. Though Mr. Medvedev did not push through significant structural change, influential insiders contend that he “created an atmosphere” that led to protests, Mr. Rahr said.
Yes, it’s the scapegoat’s fault and certainly not due to a tyrannical image.
“They are furious,” Mr. Rahr said. “They think Medvedev woke up this new Russian revolution.”
At best a vacuum people put some hope in. But certainly not the catalyst enduring tyranny is.
Konstantin Remchukov, the editor in chief of the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, says the political chill that set in this summer is familiar to anyone who grew up in the Soviet Union. He counted 30 months of easing political constraints, starting with the publication of Mr. Medvedev’s essay “Forward, Russia” — in essence, a critique of his predecessor’s record — and ending with Mr. Putin’s inauguration this recent May.
Mr. Remchukov said, “When you have a situation more or less your whole life with very little periods of thaw, you can’t treat it seriously. I remember all these periods of being more warm, cooler, frosty.”
But Ms Barry concludes – In a way, the biggest surprise is that Mr. Putin has found it necessary to roll back Mr. Medvedev’s initiatives in the first place. For the four years of the “tandem” arrangement, the consensus among Western experts was that Mr. Medvedev did not do much without specific approval from Mr. Putin. On the day the two men announced they would switch places, a top Obama administration official shrugged off a query about whether this would herald a change of course in foreign policy: “Everyone knows that Putin runs Russia,” the official said.
Ms Barry – suggests that many of Mr. Medvedev’s initiatives toward the end of his presidency, sporadic and incomplete as they were, were undertaken independently, and in some cases against Mr. Putin’s wishes. Though his talk about change was generally not accompanied by action, the Russian presidency is so powerful that for four years, Mr. Medvedev needed only to speak and the system began to work to promote his ideas. That time, however, is over.
“Even the time change; just everything Medvedev touched,” Mr. Remchukov said. “This is the most sad story now, when I see that even minor things they are trying to eradicate from our reality.”
So it’s official Kremlin insiders are shaking things down and setting up the scapegoat because some people are grunmbling in the streets. That’s timid rule dudes, same bs you’re laying on Mr. Medvedev to scapegoat with him. And yes, Lr. Putin has more power in his sneeze. Nothing will smudge the polish on his authoritarian veneer, unless he has the guts to do it himself. Some day President Putin it won’t all be about shifting a few pawns to the other side of the board. The castles are up, it’s time the people were let in, and just as Mikhail Gorbachev brought the future, this era’s future is up to you.
But, see, here’s the thing, Watching how the Kremlin pretends to rule tends to hide what really goes on in peoples’ lives when government does all the talking and deciding. This Times video series, Above the Law follows the Russian peoples’ realinsists on being detached from normal lives. Apparently the communists superiority complex is what still hasn’t died.
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