Reform talk: Medvedev`s speech shaped by protests?

President Dmitry Medvedev’s fervent call for reform of Russia’s political system has triggered speculation that his address was influenced by recent mass protests. Observers of the political scene differ in their verdicts.

­Political analyst Aleksandr Selivanov believes that the reform talk in President Medvedev’s final address to the Federal Assembly was designed to answer to some of the claims and questions thrown at the government by protesters.

And at the same time he had very little time to think over the proposals, so we haven’t even seen a lot of mechanisms how all those reforms will be implemented. He has not voiced that and that is the problem,” says Selivanov.

Among the reforms proposed by Medvedev are simplifying the registration of political parties and presidential candidates and moving back to direct voting to elect regional governors. According to Selivanov, the reforms are aimed at regaining public trust.

We have definitely had some inclusiveness crisis in the political sphere in Russia and the recent protests have shown that the people felt discontent about how they were represented in the political system,” he explains.

Despite the problems and challenges, Selivanov concluded that Dmitry Medvedev had achieved visible results in many spheres.

He has tried to democratize the system as far as he could and … he succeeded. There are lots of successful steps here, including modernization, some foreign policy successes and of course his new initiative in terms of technological modernization and of course the lawmaking system.

Another political analyst, Dmitry Babich, also thinks that Medvedev’s term was a success, praising him for reforming Russian society.

He leaves a pretty good legacy, because even if we look at concrete facts, Russia joined the World Trade Organization. There will be a lot of problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. He leaves a different society than the one than he took on when he became president.

However, Babich, does not think that what Medvedev’s proposed in terms of political reforms was a result of the recent mass protests. He believes the reforms had already been planned.

I think they were in the planning and I wouldn’t say there were several weeks of protest, it was just on Saturday 40,000 people gathered in central Moscow and demanded more reforms,” Babich stated.