DMITRY MEDVEDEV DISASSOCIATES HIMSELF FROM PRESSING PROBLEMS
Expert: President Medvedev has problems with improvisation.
The European Union expressed concern over the situation with human rights in Russia. The Moscow police brutally dispersed an opposition rally. The head of state in the meantime responded to neither development. Experts comment that unlike Premier Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Medvedev is deliberately disassociating himself from pressing problems.
Michael Webb of the EU mission said at the news conference in Rostov-on-Don that the European Union was particularly upset by the state of affairs with human rights and assassinations of journalists in Russia.
Medvedev chose to ignore the implied criticism. He did not say a word on the matter before reporters even though EU functionaries had spoken on it and so had reporters.
Neither did the head of state react to the brutal dispersal of a rally in central Moscow in defense of Article 31 of the Constitution. Putin in the meantime had discussed human rights at the meeting with intelligentsia in St.Petersburg. His words were taken as the intention on the part of the authorities to ease the pressure on the opposition.
As for the opposition itself, it is in no hurry to appeal to the president. Said Lyudmila Alekseyeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group, “Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin will make a report to the president. Does he need two reports or what? No, I’m not going to address Medvedev.”
Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Moscow Center commented that the president’s political instincts must be blunted. He said, however, that the premier had made a mistake too. “I’d say that the premier lost a point at the meeting in St.Petersburg organized on his own initiative. Later on, he clearly succumbed to the temptation to take vengeance. I mean when the rally was dispersed on May 31,” said Petrov. “The way I see it, Medvedev’s political instincts should have told him to do something. He could have done a lot after the scandal with the rally – just by sending a message indicating his position. He could have demanded a report from the Moscow police, for example…”
According to Petrov, decisions such as this ought to be made immediately. “One has to play by ear. This is what Medvedev seems to have problems with,” said Petrov.
The expert said, however, that it would be wrong to attach too much importance to appeals to the president. “Appeals are appeals. They do not mean that the authorities will do something.” The overall impression was that Medvedev was ducking pressing issues. “Report to the Parliamentary Assembly on the state of affairs in the Caucasus was published. The Russian delegation did not object to it even though the report included some harsh criticism.”
Petrov said that Medvedev would be held responsible for everything regardless of whether or not he spoke up.
“Medvedev is afraid of destabilization even more than Putin does,” said Dmitry Furman of the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “There is another factor as well. Medvedev has just over a year left before his term of office expires. Any careless gesture at this point and his chances to be reelected will plummet. I think that he will run for another term of office.”