Don’t believe anyone who says s/he knows exactly how much power Dmitriy Medvedev will wield as Russian President. My answer, for now at least, is: more than none, less than a whole lot. In his campaign and early days as President, Medvedev has invested a great deal of his time and political capital into a new campaign to reign in corruption and establish the rule of law. The campaign obviously won’t be ambitious enough to, say, keep government influence out of partisan politics. Medvedev is, however, promising to reduce corruption and enhance judicial independence. Here’s the English version of his most recent speech on the topic.
Considering the courts were one tool in Putin’s arsenal against the oligarchs not so long ago, judicial independence seems an interesting priority for his supposed puppet (Medvedev’s new cabinet is a virtual reshuffle of Putin’s). Some closer Russia watchers than me have suggested that this is either a “ritual incantation” or a direct attack on the silovki that make up Putin’s power base. I don’t buy either explanation. Medvedev is investing too much for this to be a symbolic effort. And it was too prominent a part of Medvedev’s Putin-backed campaign for it to be a direct challenge to Putin’s base — at least not at this stage.
As the Russians say, we will wait, we will see…
— Scott Paul