Glitz and fanfare in foreign policy have been President, Dmitry Medvedev’s, main preoccupation since the Victory Day parade on May 9. After the back-to-back official visits to Syria and Turkey, he telephoned US President, Barack Obama, and in Moscow greeted the Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and on May 17 made an official visit to Ukraine.
The main point in Medvedev’s Turkish agenda was gas export and transit, and here the “cordial” talks remained frustratingly fruitless.
Putin has apparently concluded that the slow recovery constitutes no serious challenge to his dominance over the bureaucratic clan squabbles or to his unquestionable authority concerning public opinion. He keeps charting the course towards reclaiming the presidency in 2012 assuming that sustained growth would return and the painful turbulence would be remembered as a feature of Medvedev’s “interregnum.” He dismisses the assumption that the crisis is evolving and eroding his model of “petro-prosperity,” so that the elite consensus around rebuilding the “business-as-usual” is crumbling, while social discontent is deepening and widening. In that he is not that different from any other “enlightened” authoritarian ruler who has overstayed his time.