Dimitry Medvedev has assumed the presidency of Russia which creates for most probably the first time in Russian history the prospect of two men vying for leadership of the nation. The question being asked by many Russians is whether Medvedev will assert his power or will he hover in the shadows while his mentor, Vladmir Putin, runs the show from his position as prime minister. Many members of the opposition and those seeking to create a Russia in which law and freedom are hallmarks hope Medvedev wiil follow through on his rhetoric about the rule of law by actually instituting a government founded on such principles. During the past few years, Putin has put on a one man show in which his personality dominates rather than government institutions which place law above the presence of a dominating personality.
A recent editorial in the Moscow Times stated the issue clearly: “The overwhelming majority of the world’s stable and effective political systems generate stability through rules, frameworks, and practices that help guarantee that they function normally. Put simply, they depend on institutons, not on individuals.
Russia’s constitution gives the president enormous power, but with the emergence of Putin as prime minister that power is now being challenged. Perhaps, the ironic outcome of the Putin ploy to create his own power base is the long time decline of the president’s power and the emergence of legislative power.