During the past month, President Dmitry Medvedev has turned into a disappearing and irrelevant figure in the Russian political arena.
Journalists keep asking Medvedev about his intentions, but most politicians have started contemplating a more serious question: when Vladimir Putin reclaims the position of the supreme leader, who is going to take the significant post of prime minister? Medvedev may be the only person in the corridors of the Kremlin who is not aware that the “heart-to-heart” talk that Putin had promised for finalizing the decision about the next presidency has already taken place – but without him being present. Putin, Sechin and whoever else is “in the know” appear, however, equally unaware that this fool-proof method of selecting the boss for the next six years may be disappointing for large parts of the bureaucratic and business elites while insulting the electorate. In every politically meaningful social group there is a strong preference for stability and a longing for the “golden time” of the mid-2000’s, when incomes were rising and terrorism was declining. There is also a growing realization that a new edition of “Putin’s plan” from 2007 could not reproduce that stability based on generous distribution and shameless stealing of petro-revenues. Putin’s grip on and lust for power are undiminished but the ranks of followers of his lead to nowhere are shrinking.