‘useful idiots’ back medvedev’s re-election

It was really pointless for observers to have spent the last three years asking the question: “Who is better, Medvedev or Putin?” and to have worked themselves up over the conundrum even more during the run-up to elections each fall.

Make no mistake: Dmitry Medvedev is not an alternative to Vladimir Putin, and vice versa. In practical terms, they are just flip sides of the same coin.

It makes no difference whether Putin or Medvedev is the next president. Moreover, if Putin decides that it is more advantageous for him to have Medvedev stay in office, it might only further delay urgently needed reforms to Russia’s institutions and political and economic systems.

As recently as three years, two years and even one year ago, we could still hold out hope that Medvedev would decisively put Russia’s house in order by dismissing ineffective ministers, cracking down on corruption and implementing reforms. Many people earnestly responded to his rousing

calls for modernization, the fight against corruption and even Skolkovo. Now those people look like first-class fools, to put it mildly.

Medvedev himself has gone silent regarding modernization, corruption and Skolkovo and has quietly been backing into the shadows. And yet those fools continue their raptures over his modernization message and call zealously for Medvedev to run for a second term. Of course, even these would-be modernizers have not forgotten to keep one foot solidly in the camp of United Russia and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as well – just in case.

The past three years of Medvedev’s presidency have shown that he completely lacks the qualities that his foolish admirers – the so-called “modernizers” – ascribe to him. (Vladimir Lenin derogatorily referred to such public figures in tsarist Russia as “useful idiots.”)

And despite all his wordy promises of political reform and modernization, not a single thing has resulted from them. Only a faint echo remains of the four I’s – innovation, institutions, investment and infrastructure – that he first proclaimed loudly near the start of his presidency. When tested, it turned out that Medvedev was not a leader, a take-charge man or even a real president. For almost four years he has uttered eloquent words without making a single independent decision. He has remained a loyal subordinate and junior partner to Putin.

The more than three years of tandemocracy have given Russia no positive change.

Ahead lies the clear prospect of the authoritarian regime and the monopoly on power held by Putin and his inner circle, United Russia and the siloviki. The real opposition parties will continue to be denied the right to register for elections, and the government’s strict censorship of the media will remain in place. Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his former business partner Platon Lebedev will be slapped with new charges leading to still more prison terms. Moscow will continue appointing governors and denying the residents of ever more cities the right to directly elect their regional and municipal leaders. Corruption will flourish, from the highest ranks of government down. The authorities will continue to falsify the results of so-called elections. (Medvedev made no objections to the absurd way in which former St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko’s candidacy for the Federation Council was put forward, or to the disgraceful charade masquerading as elections in his native city.)

‘useful idiots’ back medvedev’s re-election