Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 14, 2008

Putin Rules! Does He?

The 'western' media are trying some Kremlinology and come up with the judgment that Putin rules in Russia.

[T]he events of the past five days wiped away any pretense that President Dmitry Medvedev runs the country.

Dmitry Medvedev is the President of the Russian Federation, the head of the state, the person that determines foreign policy relations and the supreme commander of the Russian military. Vladimir Putin is the Prime Minister, the head of the government administration.

Medvedev is the current ruler of Russia. Not only formally as the last week's action has shown him very much in the lead on everything.

But in its typical behavior the media are ignoring the facts. The Washington Post for example bases its judgment on easy to test quotes like this one:

Tatyana Parkhalina, director of the Center for European Security, said she was struck by the fact that Medvedev made no significant statement about the conflict in the early going and was still vacationing on the Volga River with his family while Putin was headed toward the front.

No significant statement? Volga River while Putin was heading to the front? That is flat out wrong.

When the conflict over South Ossetia went hot on August 8 Putin was in China and had little to say about it.

The same day Medvedev led an emergency Russian Security Council session in Moscow. Medvedev ordered the Russian military to intervene. He commanded emergency humanitarian aid:

"The president has instructed Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to provide humanitarian aid to people affected by the escalation of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict," the Kremlin press service said.

On the 9th Medvedev phoned with Bush and announced Russia's war objectives.

Later on the 9th, Putin, on his way back from China, visited a refugee camp in North Ossetia, not the frontline, and the next day he reported back to Medvedev and recommended financial help for the refugees. The behavior is appropriate for his position as Prime Minister.

It was Medvedev who ordered the fighting to stop. It was Medvedev who negotiated the ceasefire with Sarkozy. It was Medvedev who announced the success of his forces.

Now tell me how this pictures a Medvedev who is not in control?

Putin and Medvedev started working together in 1991. They trust each other, have the same policies and there is simply no need for Putin being in the lead over Medvedev. They play roles. But not good cop, bad cop as some assume. Medvedev had just as harsh words for Saakashvili as Putin had. They have the roles of President and Prime Minister and in the play about South Ossetia the President's role is naturally bigger.

The psychology of a secular, black belt judoka, secret servce operative differs from that of a religious business lawyer. To assume that Putin is the one who leads Russia is a mistake. That mistake might lead to political misjudgment over Russia's policies aims and Russian political behavior.

Check the timeline of the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and see if you can find any hint that Medvedev was not leading the action on every day.

But according to the press Putin rules and Russia lost the war. You only have to believe it.

Posted by b on August 14, 2008 at 17:21 UTC | Permalink



tahnks for being on the ball in this one

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 14 2008 18:19 utc | 1

"Russia lost the war."
Up is down, too, when you're standing on your head.

Posted by: Dick Durata | Aug 14 2008 19:09 utc | 2

mike whitney - georgia & us strategy

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 14 2008 19:15 utc | 3

This is exactly the same media driven garbage that has every Zanu-PF decision made it Zimbabwe the direct action of Robert Mugabe or more often "Mugabe". By personalising the hatred because that is what this is; the media concentrate the venom whilst pretending that 'one bad apple' is at fault rather than the result a group of people arriving at a sensible decision because of particular facts. Facts which the western media hasn't bothered to inform their audience of.

After a while the slander on the selected target carries so much baggage that the mere mention of the person brings a heap of prejudices into the minds of the audience. The mildest act becomes reprehensible when committed by a Putin, Mugabe or their big one for the noughties, a Saddam Hussein. (weird how 'reasonable' the stuff that Saddam did seems now)

So when Georgia attacked South Ossettia the media didn't have time to wrap those prejudices up aganst Medvedev who they were soft pedalling, since they have built up so many diverse and unfounded libels of Putin. The slandering of Russia was continued by Russia's guilt by association with Putin. Laziness, or is Murdoch getting past it?

The fact Putin was at the Olympics was a source of particular discomfit initially and may have had a lot to do with western media ineptitude in selling this conflict as Russia/Putin's fault.

These effects are exaggerated even more within the amerikan media where their own prez holds far more powers (executive, head of state and [C in C however ceremonial the C in C may have been it isn't now], judicial selection).

Few other states outside of the sort of one person dictatorships which Russia hasn't been since 1917, concentrate as much power in the hands of one person as amerika does. That makes amerikan audiences who frequently aren't aware of the very different role a president has (usually just head of state, although Russia sort of swaps the PM and and president role to confuse the unintitiated further so that the Russian PM is less powerful than the president which isn't true in many other democracies, where the president is just head of state. The head of state opening stuff and going to funerals seems to be the PM's gig in Russia. Hence Vlad's attendence at Beijing) in other, some would say more democratic nations.

The media won't want to get caught out again so they will run many stories alternating Putin with Medvedev who has been an unknown quantity to most westerners because the western media found Putin's stepping down didn't easily fit with their portrayal of him as a Mafia gangster boss. Consequently they tried to say that he had just swapped job titles but kept the bossfella gig.
That was what brought them really unstuck whet Shitferbrainsli attacked.

If Putin was off having a tete a tete with the evil Chinese empire how could they fit him up fer bullying poor little Georgia with their Harvard trained leader. (now that kinda begs the question under normal circumstances the average amerikan would hold a Harvard graduate the sort of person who made the decison to downsize their only decent job, in great contempt. Put him in charge of someone elses country and he's a hero?)

So by alternating Putin with Medvedev and making charges against Medvedev that are similar to those made against Putin eg bully and fibber (not sticking to a proposal for a ceasefire even though Georgia hadn't agreed to it 'n stuff like that) they hope to confuse the pair in the minds of their audience, then after a period of confusion during which Medvedev's character will have been thoroughly blackened, the western media will acknowledge the transfer of power that actually occurred in a few years before.

Well that was the plan. Recent events require the program be accelerated which is bound to (a) confuse their audience of semi-somnolent bourgeoisie and (b) cause a few 'accidents' where blaming Russia doesn't have credibility. (eg the georgian attack).

sorry bout the more than usual typos late fer class again

Posted by: Debs is dead | Aug 14 2008 20:26 utc | 4

Well, to some extent, I suspect that some people in Georgia and US assume Medvedev has part of the real power. My take is that, like Kruschev in 1961 with the Cuban missiles, they underestimated the new leader, thinking him far weaker than the experimented one who just went away, and hoped to take advantage of that. And it backfired big time.
Besides, Putin must know that Medvedev has quite similar ideas, opinions and goals for Russia, otherwise he wouldn't have picked him. And having worked together for so long, they know what the other would do. All in all, Putin is apparently confident that Medvedev can do a job good enough, so that Putin can take the back seat for the moment.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 14 2008 20:32 utc | 5

After the cold-war, if the West (USA/W. Europe) would have embraced Russia as it did Georgia, the Baltics, Poland ..., China would be pretty much isolated by now & would not be considered much of a threat. But for some reason, Russia & the West have never gotten it together & probably never will.

And a major part of the reason is probably that the Russians can only take so much of the Wests moral superiorities. They do not share the Roman-Catholic political legacy/affinities of the West and its just not something thats going to be easy to fake by either side especially given that the Russians have their own very powerful legacies too.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 15 2008 0:19 utc | 6

Two weeks later, Reuters reaches about the same conclusion I did above.

Georgia war boosts Medvedev's status

Russia's conflict with Georgia has helped President Dmitry Medvedev emerge from the shadow of his mentor Vladimir Putin by letting the soft-spoken lawyer assume the mantle of wartime leader.
Throughout the crisis, Medvedev appeared as a confident leader who made the key decisions, from ordering the invasion to signing a ceasefire deal.

In a live television address announcing the recognition of Georgia's two breakaway regions as independent states, he spoke in clipped sentences and looked presidential beneath a gold-coloured two-headed eagle, Russia's national symbol.

"The conflict helped Medvedev, who acted like a president and a commander-in-chief, to consolidate more power," said independent analyst Stanislav Belkovsky.
"They worked as a team in which one partner speaks out while another partner, who will have to establish personal ties with the U.S. leaders, sticks to diplomatic language," said Alexei Makarkin, an analyst from the Centre for Political Technologies, a Moscow think tank.

"Putin remains the stronger figure in the tandem, but Medvedev has emerged as a true president," he said.

Posted by: b | Sep 5 2008 13:02 utc | 7

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