A distinct note of triumph is entering the statements of Russian officials on the scale and possible consequences of the global economic crisis.
Public indifference to the looming recession takes pressure off the Kremlin in sending one “rescue package” after another from the seemingly inexhaustible Central Bank reserves to the agonizing financial market.
These weeks might, in fact, be the last moments in the long period of prosperity and cheap money that the Russians have grown accustomed to taking for granted. Putin’s courtiers are busy reaping the last rewards, suspecting that the social contract that granted public consent for their monopoly on political power in exchange for the fast growth of disposable income is about to end. The discovery that Russia is also vulnerable to economic turmoil is not far away, and with it come questions about the responsibility of the duumvirate for siphoning off the wealth. Kudrin may be the pre-selected scapegoat, but the bucket does not stop even with Medvedev.