The presentation of President Dmitry Medvedev’s address to the Federal Assembly was grand and fascinating beyond the standards set by his predecessor Vladimir Putin.
The main surprise in the address targeted exactly these worries about the idea of change that was thoughtfully elaborated in an article written in a Siberian labor camp by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the most feared opponent of the ruling bureaucracy.
Putin is obviously irritated by the situation in which he is not only losing some formal prerogatives of power but also control over economic processes that respond neither to administrative levers nor financial stimuli. His angry orders to the elites not to exploit the crisis for self-enrichment are being ignored, and his “national leader” balloon is deflating alarmingly fast. “Rallying around the flag” apparently reached its peak during the war in August, and now the panicking oligarchs, the sinking middle class, and the public are discovering that their “great helmsman” is lost at sea. The next thing they might start thinking about is change.