Monday, May 12, 2008

Russian succession

Last week there was either a changing of the guard or a game of musical chairs in Russia, as Dmitri Medvedev was sworn in as president and Vladimir Putin, termed-out after 8 years as president, was, as expected, appointed prime minister. Nobody really knows whether this is really Putin's third term or a real transition to new leadership. With Russia prosperous -- thanks more to the price of petroleum than anything the government has done except to take an inordinate cut from the state-owned or state-controlled oil companies -- Putin is still popular and could no doubt have won a third term if it had been an option. Medvedev is untested except as Putin's student for the last 20 years or so, but the presidency is institutionally a more powerful position than prime minister, so leadership conflicts may be in the offing -- or not.

Anyway, here's the Register's editorial on the uncertainty in a country where few if any U.S. core interests are at stake, but which bears watching because Putin, and apparently most Russians, think it's time for Russia to reassert herself as a Great Power.

Yawn. It's so old-school nation-state.

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