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The Media Mirror: what's in today's Russian newspapers? 18.12.2007

Today's Russian press focuses on President Vladimir Putin putting an end to the intrigue and guesswork about his future after next March's presidential election.

Rossiyskaya Gazeta’s report comes under the headline: 'The Bears nominate a Bear'. The Bear is the main symbol of the United Russia Party. Dmitry Medvedev’s surname means “Bear” in Russian.

Kommersant is sarcastic as ever. Andrey Kolesnikov describes the atmosphere at the Congress before the grand entrance of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev as an avalanche ready to fall and crush everything in its way.

Vremya Novostei writes that now we have a new term: “Putin-Medvedev Tandem”. Meaning, continues the paper, that instead of Putin’s Vertical of Power we are in for a legitimate diarchy. Apart from nominating a presidential candidate at the Congress, United Russia agreed to consist of three factions built each on its own ideology: the Liberal, the Social and the Conservative.

Komsomolskaya Pravda quotes well-known experts. Anatoly Tsipko says "Putin’s idea of leaving the powers of President and Prime Minister as they are seems a bit strange to me. I’m not yet sure if Medvedev is capable of leading the country as firmly as Putin. I think we should change the job descriptions in favour of the Prime Minister. Vitaly Tretyakov says “It’s clear that Putin and Medvedev know what they are doing. They talked everything over beforehand. In this case, if we are to have two power centres instead of one, it would not have any affect on the people, only on the bureaucrats who would have to judge for themselves whose orders to take.”

In the same paper German Russia Watcher Alexander Rahr says “It may be the first time in history a Russian politician has agreed to the number two position under a new president. In the West Russia’s departure from the path of democracy has become a fashionable cliché – but Putin is leaving like a true democrat.”

Vedomosti has Dmitry Badovsky writing that there are three options in Russia’s immediate future. One: a temporary president-and-a-half system. Putin slowly grooms Medvedev to perfection and then quits politics. Two: the Prime Minister’s chair is a launch pad for Putin to regain the seat of power if and when something goes wrong. Three: the new formula of power (strong President plus strong Prime Minister) is effective and successful and finally becomes the norm, and the constitution is amended to accommodate it.