ROAR: Medvedev, Putin continue to “drop hints” to public

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
The president and the prime minister have left the question of the 2012 elections unanswered, preferring to solve the current issues the country is facing, the media say.

Observers have commented on Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s words about his plans not to quit politics. During his televised phone-in question and answer session, Putin also said he would consider running for the presidency in 2012, only later. “I think – there is still plenty of time,” he stressed. Most analysts believe the possibility of Putin’s running is high.

At the same time, President Dmitry Medvedev, who was on a visit to Italy, said at a news conference that he also didn’t rule out running in the next elections. But he added: “We will be able to come to an understanding on how not to elbow each other out of the way, but make the reasonable decision for our country.”

RBC daily said that, during his televised “conversation with the people”, Putin had to answer again the “eternal questions” of Russian citizens, including those about his political future and relations with the president.

Putin described the relations in the tandem as “good,” but “he left, in fact, unanswered the question about the Kremlin’s official candidate for the 2012 elections,” the daily said. The final decision will depend on the socio-economic situation in the country, and Putin made it clear that now it is too early to speak about it, the paper added.

“The biggest mistake would be to devote the time needed to solve current problems to the interests of the future election campaigns,” Putin said, in response to a question.

Dmitry Orlov, director of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily that Putin had mentioned his “horizon of planning” in terms of political future.

The prime minister’s answers show that this horizon is “wider than simply solving any current issues,” the analyst said. “His choice of topics and search for answers to the challenges that the country is facing characterize Putin as a politician with long-term perspectives,” he added.

At the same time, both Medvedev and Putin stress that they will decide together who will run in 2012, observers note. Medvedev’s comments were “predictable,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said. It added that during a Valdai International Discussion Club meeting in September, the president was no more concrete when he said the decision would be made if both leaders “had any chance of being elected.”

One should not compare the prime minister’s questions and answers session with the president’s address to the parliament, believes Boris Makarenko of the Center for Political Technologies. “Medvedev’s line of modernization is another genre,” he told Vremya Novostey daily.

The prime minister’s “promise” to think about running for the presidency was “milder than his answer to the Valdai Club,” Makarenko noted. Then Putin said that Medvedev and he were “of the same blood.”

It is impossible, in fact, to wait for a different answer from the prime minister, Makarenko said. “The laws of the genre are such that any answer to the question about the elections that is read as ‘no’ turns any of the two leaders into a lame duck,” he said. Thus, no one will say that he has no intentions to run, the analyst said.

Iosif Diskin, co-chairman of the Council on National Strategy has another explanation. Medevedev has taken risks upon himself connected with the modernization project, Diskin told the daily. It is clear that Putin “will help the state if the project starts to fail,” he said.

Both Medvedev’s address to the parliament and Putin’s conversation with the people showed that “the law is not merely empty words” for them, Diskin said. Putin as the prime minister now “executes the main lines of economic and external policy, determined by the president.”

Mikhail Vinogradov of the Petersburg Politics foundation also noted that the latest statements of the both leaders have demonstrated once again a clear division of responsibilities.

“Medvedev speaks more about political problems and Putin about social issues,” he told Vremya Novostey. The president addresses “the active part of the population,” and the prime minister talks “to the social base of the power, the senior generation, pensioners,” the analyst stressed.

Meanwhile, the two leaders continue to drop “hints” to the public, Vinogradov said. Medvedev speaks about the possibility of strengthening the role of other political parties in addition to United Russia, and Putin leaves the question about 2012 unanswered.

It is senseless to analyze Putin’s signals because he “is trying to disorientate the Russian political elite and reduce the independence of every player, showing that the issue of power will be decided later,” the analyst said.

However, Mikhail Afanasyev, of the Niccolo M center of political consulting, told Gazeta.ru website that the statements that Putin and Medvedev made on December 3 were “the beginning of primaries.”

Until 2012, the tandem will not only have to fulfill strategic tasks, but also to solve everyday problems of Russians, as Putin did during the question and answer session.

The large amount of questions to one of the leaders with “minor issues that should be solved by regional authorities” clearly demonstrates “the absence of normal connection channels between society and the authorities,” Vedomosti daily said.

“In this situation, a direct address to the country’s leaders on air or online has become almost the only means for some citizens to solve their everyday issues,” the paper added.

“But the most important thing is that there are two leaders in Russia now,” the daily stressed. The appearance of Medvedev and Putin on TV air and online “redouble the chances of ordinary Russians to speak about their problems to the leadership,” the paper said.

Regular direct communication of the president and the prime minister with the people “generates a competition of promises,” the paper said, adding that both of them will try to solve a particular problem “quicker and more effectively.”

Sergey Borisov, RT