MEDVEDEV PROGRAM. Medvedev’s (ie The Team’s) program for the first year was derailed by two unexpected events: the international financial crisis and Saakashvili’s invasion of South Ossetia. Nonetheless, we do have an idea of what he (ie The Team) has in mind. While not very much has happened, there is talk of selling off a number of state-owned companies and many speeches about the problem of corruption. Overtures to, if not the opposition, at least non-Kremlinocentric opinion and, many many references to modernisation: “perhaps the most important topic on our agenda, namely the modernisation of our economy. The modernisation of Russia’s economy must be based on new technologies, innovation and the radical restructuring of the country’s internal economic structure.” Medvedev spends a lot of his time exhorting people and talking about the big strategic picture (for example, to energy sector executives on Friday). Thus far, not that much legislation has hit the street, but it is coming (education, police, quality control, banking).
THE NEW BIG MIS-QUOTATION. So far Medvedev has been spared the selective and false quotations that were the foundation of so many think-pieces about Putin. But it’s happened at last. A breathless piece (JRL/2010/29/25) quotes Medvedev saying about Saakashvili “If you, as a president, did something that you must be held accountable for, you will, without a doubt, face consequences”; later author calls this an “ominous forecast” showing the “Kremlin’s malevolent plans for Georgia”. Here’s what Medvedev actually said:” So if you have done something, especially as President, for which you must answer, you have to take responsibility sooner or later. What kind of responsibility? I think that first and foremost Mr Saakashvili should answer to his own people, since he plunged them into war, condemned them to great suffering, and in the final analysis all this led to the collapse of his country.” Much the same opinion, in fact, as that of Saakashvili’s former Foreign and Defence Ministers (not that such propaganda pieces ever mention the opinions that so many people who worked with Saakashvili have of him). I wonder if this will go the rounds like Putin’s so-called remark to Bush that Ukraine wasn’t really a country; a “quotation” for which no one seems to have been able to find the original.
ANOTHER FOREIGN WEAPONS PURCHASE. Curved barrel small arms from Israel for special forces.
POKLONNAYA GORA. The war memorial complex in Moscow was supposed to have a memorial structure for each of Russia’s four “recognised” religions. The church, mosque and synagogue are complete and land has just been granted for a Buddhist temple.
DEMOGRAPHICS. The government programs continue to chew away at the problem with increases in the birth rate and reductions in the death rate, including improvement in infant mortality. (Figures as of 3rd quarter 2009). It is expected, taking immigration into account, that Russia’s population will have grown slightly in 2009.
NORTH CAUCASUS. More evidence for my hypothesis that the jihadists in the North Caucasus should have laid low this winter: in a battle in Ingushetia, security forces claim to have killed a number of them.
HISTORY WARS. The Polish government has joined a class action suit to sue Moscow for the Katyn Massacre. The cynic would say that Russia now has money and people want some of it. Sue Jughashvili and Beria I say.
UKRAINE. Tymoshenko continues to refuse to accept the election results (she is quoted as saying she will “never” accept Yanukovych as the winner) and her team has presented evidence to the Supreme Administrative Court claiming a million false votes were counted. The court has suspended the election results until it considers the evidence tomorrow. Given that practically everyone else has accepted the results as legitimate, it is unclear what she hopes to achieve. Her party has 30% of the seats in the Rada but she can’t be gaining support by her actions. More paralysis for Ukraine.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (see http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/)