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Not surprisingly, the Russian electoral cycle ended as planned. Dmitry Medvedev, a man who had been working with Vladimir Putin since 1994, was elected president with a large majority, and Putin was soon appointed as the new prime minister. This move gave birth to two completely different interpretations among outsiders. Some people are eager to point to the new power given to a “liberal” Medvedev, and expect Russia to turn toward a more Westerly course. Others, pointing to a major shift of power from the presidential administration to the new prime minister’s office, describe changes in the Russian power structure as purely cosmetic.
Duality of power is never simple to manage. However, it requires a lot of wishful thinking to describe Medvedev as a “liberal” compared with Putin. As the second man in power at Gazprom, Medvedev was instrumental in the big fight to put the company solidly back into government hands.
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