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Russia’s Putin still pulling all the strings

by Archives March 11, 2008

Vladimir Putin has been called Russia’s new tsar. But the question after the March 2 elections remains: who holds the key to power in the Russian Federation?
In his years as president, Putin has weaved a web of control so intricate that no one believed he would give up his post so easily after just two terms, but now Dmitry Medvedev has been welcomed as his replacement and Putin will take over the role of prime minister.
With his liberal attitude, Medvedev is a far cry from Putin’s cold stares. Will he be capable of controlling the country’s most powerful position? Many political onlookers don’t think so, and he himself has stated that his presidency will be a “direct continuation” of what Putin started.
Russia faces a unique situation because never before has the president, especially one with so much influence and power, taken an inferior role, while still playing an active part in day-to-day politics. Putin will not give up his influence and will remain an integral part of the presidency. Many wonder how this power sharing will work exactly.
Medvedev, who became the Deputy Prime Minister in 2005, will now move to the Kremlin and his main function will be foreign policy. Putin is now supposed to move to the Russian White House to be in charge of government, as well as focus on economic and social policy.
At the same time it seems the boundaries are undefined, especially since Putin has for the last eight years held a tight grip over all issues. Putin explained, “The president is head of state, guarantor of the constitution, and sets the main domestic and foreign policy guidelines. But the highest executive power in the country is in the hands of the government. There are enough powers to go around, and Medvedev and I will divide them between ourselves.”
Failing communist economic and social policies have destroyed the country and its democratic turn under Yeltsin only threw Russia into more chaos. Putin brought hope to the Russian people. Russians are finally being paid wages after working without pay for years because of a lack of funds. Money has been invested in social programs and schools. Putin has taken Russia out of the ashes of the Cold War and turned it once again into a major international player to watch out for. Russians are proud of their country, they look up to Putin. So why would they want anything to change?
Medvedev won with 70 per cent of the vote, and although there were many allegations of fraud, as there always are with elections in Russia — he is nonetheless Putin’s handpicked successor and a popular choice – as long as he follows Putin’s direction.
The West had hoped that Medvedev would be able to step out of his mentor’s shadow, but that is highly unlikely. They will just have to work with Putin’s puppet.

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