The Economic Forum in St. Petersburg had a far more somber atmosphere and a greatly reduced entertainment program than last year.
Putin's relapse into the Soviet-style methods of enforcing political solutions on economic problems in Pikalevo proves that the real value of Medvedev's pledges to uphold the market environment is rather limited.
While Kudrin ponders on sequestrations in the federal budget, the situation in many regions is already desperate, as confirmed by Bashkortostan's president Murtaza Rakhimov in an explosive interview in which he claimed that centralization is now worse than in Soviet times -and that the Duma is a shameful parliamentary fake (Moskovsky Komsomolets, June 5). Medvedev now has to show that he means business, promising to fire corrupt and under-performing officials of which Rakhimov is certainly a prime example. His "get-smarter" discourse however, remains abstract to the rank-and-file within the bureaucratic pyramid, and to the general population who still expect Putin to descend on every Pikalevo and deliver salvation from the undeserved economic punishment.