Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s newly-elected president, would be surprised to know how many well-wishers he has in the West.
For years, these closet Medvedev’s sympathizers have fretted that his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, had accumulated too much power in the Kremlin. Now, that Putin has moved out to become the country’s prime minister, Medvedev’s Western friends are upset that as president, he’s left powerless — with everything taken away by the power-hungry Putin.
To help supposedly clueless Medvedev, he’s given a list of things to do to prove his independence from Putin. Most frequently mentioned specific items include dropping Russia’s objections to Georgia‘s and Ukraine’s membership in NATO and relaxing the rules regulating Western companies’ access to Russia’s oil and gas fields.
In other words, all Medvedev has to do is to reverse Putin’s policies.
It’d take a sophisticated, Freudian-grade, psychoanalysis to figure out what Medvedev’s Western "advisers" suffer from the most: a bad case of wishful thinking, total ignorance of the political situation in Russia, or sheer stupidity. Otherwise, it’s difficult to even imagine why Medvedev, a high-ranked member of Putin’s team, would be willing to reverse policies he’s been working so hard to promote.
Yesterday, addressing a meeting of top government officials, Medvedev told them to step up efforts to help small- and medium-size businesses, a topic he’s been pressing throughout his election campaign. Perhaps, Medvedev has his own ideas on how to become his own man.