The main point for Medvedev's state visit to France is to cultivate his personal ties with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, seeking to build a “special friendship” similar to his mentor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Medvedev’s main proposition for making sense out of his presidency is “modernization,” yet he remains ambivalent about providing any content for this ambitious concept.
Medvedev is a product of the system of bureaucratic dominance over the economy and society, and he was brought to the summit of power to perform a largely ceremonial role; the transformative impact of the massive crisis, however, has created a need for real leadership. Putin cannot face the fact that the progressive paralysis of the system of governance is a result of his policy of empowering bureaucracy, and he insists on addressing the erupting problems by “manual control.” Every sign of recovery reduces Medvedev’s resolution to assume real leadership, for which he is so clearly unprepared and which could only be forced upon him by the pressure of court intrigues and public discontent. The latter is slowly building, but the former depends upon the sum total of survival instincts among the crowd of shrewd courtiers. The top level of the bureaucracy has to start taking Medvedev seriously – and here he can take a cue from Sarkozy, who is certainly the quintessential political animal. Instead of wandering in the blind alley of reinventing the European security architecture, the pair could find a quiet moment for plotting a master-stroke that might reinvigorate Medvedev’s “Go-Russia” initiative. It might not be a bad idea, if in that context, the name Khodorkovsky was discussed.