Russia's Tragic Hero

By Matthews, Owen | Newsweek International, October 5, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Russia's Tragic Hero

Matthews, Owen, Newsweek International

Byline: Owen Matthews

Why Dmitry Medvedev will fail.

It's hard to see Dmitry Medvedev as a tragic figure. Russia's president is, at least in theory, one of the world's most powerful men. His demeanor is cheerful; his speeches are refreshingly liberal and increasingly bold in criticizing the new Russian state. But his vision will go nowhere as long as his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, remains the real power in the land.

Consider Medvedev's latest proposals. Published earlier this month on the president's personal blog, the manifesto calls for overhauling Russia's "terrible" and "dysfunctional" economy by weaning it away from its dependence on energy and metals. Medvedev wants to close down unproductive single-industry towns that churn out products no one wants, to create a new tech sector and to invest more in education, to cut bureaucracy, and to encourage Russians to start small businesses, which have been crushed by bribe-taking and regulation. "We spent the 1990s trying to survive, then we spent much of the last decade achieving stability," Medvedev told a foreign audience recently. "Now we have to dismantle the legacy of our 'beloved' Soviet past."

It all sounds good. But it was all undermined by the fact that, just one day before the blog post appeared, Putin strongly hinted that he intends to return to the presidency at the next election in 2012. "[Medvedev and I] will make that decision together," Putin said. "We are of one blood." In the coded language of modern Russian politics, the message--that Medvedev is little more than a temporary stand-in--was loud and clear.

Putin's return will undermine all of Medvedev's radical proposals, from his economic ideas to his earlier plan to reform Russia's rotten justice and law-enforcement systems. That's because many of Russia's problems today are of Putin's own making. During his two terms in office, Russia's bureaucracy doubled in size, while according to Transparency International, the size of the "bribe economy" increased 10-fold. The bureaucracy became the business elite as the state--from the Kremlin to provincial governors and even local policemen--swallowed up private businesses.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Russia's Tragic Hero


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?