It is very tempting for Medvedev to put the responsibility for implementing painful but unavoidable decisions, like raising gas prices or advancing pension reform or tightening state expenditures in order to curb the galloping inflation, on his prime minister.
Putin, who has agreed to take this position after stepping down from the summit of power in the spring, is certainly aware of this temptation and is hardly eager to carry these “hot potatoes” – so the awkward duumvirate will inevitably come under strain.
European partners are quite relieved about the business-friendly face of the next Russian president, but the ugly mugs of the siloviki have not disappeared from Moscow’s corridors of power – and Medvedev would have a hard time selling any “liberal” proposition. As for Gazprom, it might be quite healthy for the company to rediscover that its main interests are related to its core business and not to building Olympic facilities in Sochi or expanding its assets in the media market. Being a state within a state and at the same time a favorite presidential “hobby” is hardly a recipe for success, but the “about average” performance in the absence of a comprehensible strategy has already made the company a key source of energy insecurity.