How do you solve a problem like Dmitry Medvedev?
While dismissing Medvedev might provide Putin and his ruling United Russia party with a much-needed ratings boost, it would also be something of a “false start” with parliamentary elections not due until 2021, said political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya.
“It would be more logical to dismiss the government toward the end of its term, if ratings are low and the risks are high, so as to recharge the system and throw the dead weight overboard,” said Stanovaya.
But ultimately, she added, Putin’s decision may be influenced more by his personal relationship with Medvedev than the public mood.
The two men go back a long way, having first met in Leningrad — now St. Petersburg — in the early 1990s, when Putin was head of the city’s committee on foreign relations. Medvedev later ran Putin’s first election campaign, helping him secure the presidency in 2000.
“He is one of Putin’s closest allies, and there is a political deal between them that keeps Medvedev as the second most powerful person in Russia. This is in no way connected to issues of ratings, responsibility, or the attitudes of society to the authorities,” said Stanovaya.
“The tandem is still in force, just in a weaker form.”
Marc Bennetts is a Moscow-based journalist and author of “I’m Going to Ruin Their Lives: Inside Putin’s War on Russia’s Opposition” (Oneworld, 2016).