Monday, March 28, 2011

Putin-Medvedev Split

The Russian response to the NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Libya has produced the first major public difference in opinion between President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin. When the first bombings began, following Russia's abstaining on the UN Security Council Resolution, Putin spoke angrily of the intervention. He compared it to "a medieval call to crusades". Hours later, Medvedev gave a news conference indirectly rebuked Putin, saying "Under no circumstances is it acceptable to use expressions which make essentially to a clash of civilizations, such as 'crusades' and so on." Even Russia's state run television reflected the conflict of messages. At first it spoke of the intervention as an attack on a sovereign state as a war over oil and arms deal. After Medvedev's speech, it then praised the intervention, showing Col. Quadaffi as a ruthless dictator and the rebels grateful to the West. According to the Economist, this split won't have much effect on future policy decisions - Putin is still running show. Still, it adds to the curious buildup of circumstances leading to the 2012 elections. Will Medvedev step out from the shadow? Will Putin let him? This new twist suggests Medvedev is trying to become his own man, but to what end?

Source: Economist

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