It is possible to bridge differences between Medvedev and Putinand their meeting in Gorki was most probably perfectly friendly, but neither wants to give any serious thought as to how Russia has arrived in this situation and both attempt to lead without a reliable compass
The vibrant forces of economic competition remain distorted by the inter-penetration of business and politics, and the rigid political system of Putinism is incompatible with competition, as its master confirmed by asserting that the outcome of the 2012 presidential elections will be decided in a heart-to-heart talk between himself and Medvedev.
It is the report on the causes of the August disaster at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower station released last Saturday that has shed new light on the political issues of modernization. It assesses in great detail the risks associated with the rusting legacy of Soviet industrialization, and implicitly demonstrates the unpromising basis for an imaginary breakthrough to a high-technology economy. The real significance, however, lies in the fact that it was prepared by Igor Sechin, a key Putin henchman, and names as one of the main culprits Anatoly Chubais, who despite his errors of judgment is a bona fide reformer. Many “modernizers” have become guilty by association, which means that Medvedev is left to drag his failing presidency to the conclusion that he was right about the inability of the system to cope with the crisis but wrong about its capacity for reforming itself.