Putin in China responded to the political crisis, Medvedev in Moscow never bothered to.

This lawmakers’ mutiny will remain in political memory of the country. Indeed, it was one of the rare moments of truth for the Duma. Understandably afraid for their own future, parliamentarians decided all of a sudden that something had to be done. They marched out of the Duma because they were through with “swallowing it all” as Vladimir Zhirinovsky of the LDPR put it. Committing themselves to this bold course of action – something unthinkable for the meek Duma! – three political parties sparked the first crisis of power in the history of the so called tandem.

The scandal fomented by this demarche shows the problems everyone has been discussing in a somewhat different light. That President Dmitry Medvedev’s timetable had no slots in it for a meeting with representatives of three political parties in question for another ten days was quite revealing. First, it showed that the president was not really upset over democracy in Russia. Second, it showed the president unready politically for action and even for comments on the latest developments. The next several days will show who the president meets with and what matters he regards as more important than what all others regard as a bona fide political crisis.

Putin in China thought it necessary to intervene. He told the ruling party not to get carried away and advised all the rest to go to court. Medvedev in Moscow was too busy to say what he thought. It was to the president as the guarantor of the Constitution that Zhirinovsky appealed to meanwhile.

And yet, it was the premier who responded and not the president. He was clearly annoyed with the elite that had fomented the crisis in the first place. “The people in the corridors of power believe all too frequently that they are there forever. Hence the mistakes they make,” he said.

Commentators may talk about Medvedev’s independence until they are blue in the face, but it is in collisions such as this that society sees who is who in Russia.

One does not hear appeals to the guarantor only when he does not know what to do now or when he does not regard himself as the guarantor in the first place. Both are regrettable, of course. The crisis flared up when politicians, accustomed as they were to practically everything, found themselves unwilling to see vestiges of their self-regard squashed. And swallow i.e. accept the outcome of the election outrageous in its absurdity. All of Moscow cannot consist only of followers of United Russia and the CPRF. Something like that is possible somewhere else, in hick towns perhaps, but not in Moscow, a city of the well-educated, the independent, and the liberal-minded. That they are not going to be represented in the municipal legislature cannot be chalked off to statistical error.

Putin took legislators’ demarche as a crisis. Moreover, he took it seriously and even told the ruling party to hold its horses. Putin does it but infrequently. He did so in this particular case, clearly considering the episode worth it.