In the good old days when Vladmir Putin was president of the nation, the very idea of making a critical remarks about the leader of Russia was anathema to every standard of “democracy.” President Dimitry Medvedev shocked many by urging leaders and individuals throughout the nation to discuss, debate and even make critical comments concerning government actions in handling the economic crisis. “It would not be surprising if there was criticism about the course that has been taken,” he told the nation and he made clear he welcomed any comments either positive or negative. In another departure from Putin policies, Medvedev urged changes in the power relationship between the government in Moscow and those in regions. He urged local lawmakers to share their views with the central government.
In any two person relationship in which the older one allows a younger colleague to secure power, there usually arises a time in the interaction between the two in which the younger leader seeks to assert his individuality. Has this now arrived in the relationship between Putin and Medvedev? Is Dimitry ready to tell Vladmir that he is his own boss and has his own ideas on how to run Russia?
Stanislev Belkovsky, a billionaire, who opposes Putin, charges the president of Russia has secretly accumulated a fortune that might be as high as $40 billion. Putin allegedly owns shares of stock in Gazprom and companies like Surgutneftegaz whose holdings have dramatically increased in value over the past decade. According to Belkovsky, “Putin’s name does not appear on any shareholder register, of course.” He may have money hidden in offshore accounts. Belkovsky claims a war over power and money is raging within the Kremlin between those representing the old KGB clique whom Putin put in power government positions and the new ‘liberal” group headed by Dimitry Medvedev, whom Putin has designated as the next president of Russia. The KGB crowd is worried about how to maintain control of their money since Medvedev has little allegiance or connection to their group. The conflict is not over ideological issues so much as to how to keep money one has secreted away while serving in the Russian government.
There is little question Medvedev will be elected president of Russia this spring and that he will then appoint Putin as the prime minister. It is less clear what happens if corruption issues surface and Medvedev is left with the question of possible prosecuting his mentor. These stories about possible corruption could enable Medvedev to pull an end run around Putin by getting rid of his mentor and becoming the real ruler of Russia without having ties to the man who placed him in power.Of course, many Shakespeare plays recount similar stories of youth overcoming parents.