MEDVEDEV PRESS CONFERENCE. Medvedev gave a large press conference yesterday. He said he would announce “soon” whether he will run again. The inquiry into Sergey Magnitskiy will be concluded “soon”. He several times stressed that no one should stay in power forever (in the context of saying he had replaced half the regional leaders) and that people who do so come to “a rather bad end”. Russia’s political system is still being adjusted (“a forming democracy “) and that it was possible that Federation Council members (and governors) might be directly elected (not, apparently, “soon”). He understood that “local authorities try to varnish everything” when he comes to visit, but said that he also got information from blogs etc which “cut right to the truth”. Relations with NATO were “not that bad” but he reemphasised that Moscow had to be sure that “these strike potentials will not be directed at us”. (Many of course see this and similar statements as threats; they aren’t, they’re conditional warnings: if Russia feels it is threatened – which it doesn’t today – it will take counter steps. A perfectly understandable position and one that any country would take). But, once again, sometimes the level of detail was preposterous. I have noticed this many times in his and Putin’s Q&A sessions: a version of “my roof is leaking Mr President, will you repair it?”. The third question was about parking in Moscow. Medvedev answered the question in some detail but I believe he would have been wiser to say: ask the Mayor, that’s not my job. The Boss – even if there are two of them – cannot do everything.
KHODORKOVSKIY. The relevant court has postponed the hearing of the appeal of Khodorkovskiy and Lebedev against their second sentencing until next week: the reason given that more time was needed to study “the large volume of complaints about the sentencing”. Meanwhile the defendants have asked the Russian Investigative Committee to open a criminal case against the judge who sentenced them in December. At his press conference Medvedev said that the release of the two posed no threat to society. The Khodorkovskiy case did a great deal of damage to Russia’s reputation in the outside world and I and others wondered what Medvedev would do about it. Perhaps the second verdict will be overturned and the two will be released when they finish their first terms.
NAVALNIY. More pressure on this anti-corruption campaigner – the logo on his website (showing a double-headed eagle with a saw in each claw) mocks the state symbol. This, combined with the other story, begins to look like an organised campaign to shut him down. He will have offended many powerful people.
MIRONOV. The St Petersburg Legislative Assembly recalled Sergey Mironov from the Federation Council. He is pretty calm about it and says he will continue to be active in Just Russia and he may re-appear as a Duma Deputy: several Deputies are said to be prepared to give up their seats for him. (The logic of proportional representation is that no one votes for an actual individual). This may be a manoeuvre to show that Just Russia is not just an appendage of the Kremlin. I believe it to be a possibility that one member of The Team could run on the Just Russia ticket and another on the United Russia ticket and this may be part of such a plan.
BLUE LIGHTS. Another egregious case of their misuse: the driver for Sergey Shoygu was filmed (camera phones are ubiquitous) abusing (threatened to shoot him if he didn’t get out of his way) another driver, He was alone in the car at the time. He has been fired. I’m sure this will ignite the protesters again.
MILITARY. As a further indication that Russia’s ambitious military re-building program is not going well, several military and defence industry officials were dismissed Tuesday for poor performance in implementing the arms procurement program.
FLASH MOBS. A flash mob in Moscow in honour of this. And another one on a more serious subject. A species of civil society.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (see http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/)