|WHO IS MR. MEDVEDEV, OR CANDIDATE’S
Moscow. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Vavra)
A forum in Davos implies debates on global problems. However, there are no
plans to discuss Russia in 2007, although the conferees are bound to show
interest in this country. The most promising Russian politician and
Vladimir Putin’s probable successor – First Deputy Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev -- heads the Russian delegation in Davos, thereby
substantially elevating the status of the Russian presence there. This
fact shows that we are attaching great importance to the forum, planning
to reach certain objectives, and linking it with certain expectations.
This is not yet Medvedev’s presentation, but his trial run as a
presidential candidate in the international arena.
He will most certainly be asked questions about Russia’s energy
strategy. He will possibly be asked to talk about his area of expertise
– national projects. But nobody expects him to make detailed speeches
and program statements – in today’s Russia only Putin can explain
everything. The main thing is the opportunity of looking at the potential
president from all sides.
The state and power are not simply institutions – they are personified,
all the more so in Russia. Management strategy, lists of priorities, and
the very atmosphere of life largely depend on a national leader’s
personality. This is why the character of Russia’s future president is
so important. What do we know about Dmitry Medvedev as a person and
politician? He will certainly draw special attention – conferees in
Davos will try to understand his character, manners, and reactions, and
note every nuance in order to find his strong points and soft spots, which
would reveal his psychological features. Eventually, this will help them
predict what new accents Russian policy may acquire with his advent to
Medvedev will find himself in front of hundreds of photo and video
cameras. The Russian media are extremely kind to the First Deputy Prime
Minister, and eager to present him from the best possible angles –
sometimes he can be mistaken for Father Frost, bringing presents to his
compatriots. But here he will be watched with the cold eyes of a hunter.
To sum up, Medvedev’s visit to Davos is bound to give much food for
thought to comments by analysts, political scientists, and all experts on
Russia. They will make and multiply his visual and audio images. For us,
the main question is: will they see Medvedev as an independent politician,
or an obedient follower of Putin’s cause? What balance of strength and
intellect will they reveal in him?
Let me repeat that nobody expects Medvedev to give detailed answers –
the time is not yet ripe for them. It is enough for him to make hints with
their seductive charm of an enigma. He has to be definite on only one
The notion of “a man of power” is particularly popular in our
political discourse. Other countries give a different interpretation to
this term. For them, a “man of power” is not one who resorts to tough
measures, but who achieves results by being persistent, flexible, and
diverse in his choice of means. Unfortunately, the Russian scene does not
give politicians many opportunities to practise flexibility and diversity.
Medvedev is expected to demonstrate the long-awaited “soft power” in
Russian policy. It will be welcomed with relief, and will make for more
comfortable negotiations with this country on a whole range of issues. The
Westerners want to see some new features which would testify to the
emergence of a new generation of Russian political leaders.
In effect, the matter deals with a change in the design of packaging, with
new ethics in upholding one’s own interests.
Will Russia find it hard to meet these expectations? Not in the least. The
political reality is harsh for everyone, and there is no point in
expecting more. -0-