Day: March 5, 2008

Medvedev the Bear

Robert Service, writing about the bearishness of Mr Medvedev (medved’ is the Russian word for a bear):

The chances are surely slim that Medvedev is a closet liberal. The evidence suggests that the pessimists are nearer the mark. It is true that Medvedev has spoken warmly about democracy. At the world economic forum at Davos last year he noted that the most successful economies are underpinned by fair elections and impartial justice. He talks a good talk. His face is bland and smiling – he looks like a former member of a 1980s boyband. At only 42 he seems to bring a fresh approach to public policy.

In reality the future Russian president belongs to a ruthless ruling group. Like Putin he comes from St Petersburg, and their association has been long and close. Medvedev trained as a lawyer and put his expertise at the Kremlin’s disposal at a time when Putin was hammering his enemies into the ground.