It is entirely possible that the Putin-Medvedev “tandem,” after hitting the first rock, will regain its balance in the coming weeks.
Medvedev did not miss his chance to exploit the mistake caused by the characteristic arrogance of his senior partner in power.
Putin’s grasp on power appears unshakable, but he is objectively in a position where responsibility for all seemingly minor economic setbacks and shortcomings belongs, whatever scapegoats he might appoint among the unaffiliated “oligarchs” and disposable bureaucrats. Medvedev might wait for further mistakes driven by Putin’s deep mistrust of the market and propensity to monopolize authority without delivering coherent management. He might also reflect on the fact that in Russia’s political history, power-sharing arrangements have always been temporary and short-lived. Putin, however, is psychologically incapable of admitting failure and can sharply abandon the “wait-and-see” approach for the behavioral pattern of a cornered animal.