Today, on 7 May 2008, Dmitri Medvedev took office as the third President of Russia. The half-of-an-hour inauguration ceremony which took place in Great Kremlin Palace’s throne hall was very interesting to watch and rather useful for future thoughts about the new "first face" of Russian politics. Of course, such events are planned in advance so thoroughly that one should not expect any surprise or clear sign of something. Nevertheless we can make some conclusions.
The first conclusion: it is a big mistake to call Mr. Medvedev a “puppet president” (as, for example, Tony Halpin from The Times did in a recent article). Yes, the appointment (through the well organized elections) of Dmitri Medvedev as a President was grounded on decision of Vladimir Putin. But it is obvious that Mr. Putin hasn’t made that decision alone. We shouldn’t forget about the circumstances of Putin’s intronisation which took place 8 years ago. We shouldn’t forget about so called “Family” which still sharply controls Russian big economy and politics. So, the issue is much more complex than we can think "from the first sight".
I was watching the inauguration procedure on TV, sitting in cafe of one of the administrative buildings of the Parliament of Ukraine (Verkhovna Rada). The performance was really impressive.
…Immense mechanism of the Kremlin’s chiming clock started to count seconds left to 12 o’clock of Moscow time. With the loud accompaniment of clock bells future President of Russian Federation appeared in the gold-decorated hall, overcrowded with cream of the cream of Russian economy and political elite.
“Look, Russia has become a real empire. Medvedev will be like a Tsar of Russia”, - commented a woman-official with a cap of coffee, - Nobody can predict, what kind of President he is going to be. But I’m sure – he is not shy, he will show up brightly”. Her friend who prefers tea added with a bit of jealousy: “Today is a holiday for all the Russians, even government officials don’t work”.
Mr. Medvedev can not be described as a tall men. Actually his height is only 162 cm. But everyone who was observing the ceremony noticed that he didn’t look as not tall enough for the post of the President of Russia. Some features of the conduct of Dmitri Medvedev during the inauguration ceremony have shown that he is not going to stay a weak President as some well-known people want him to be.
Today Dmitri Medvedev is not pretending to dominate Vladimir Putin. But after the moment of exchange of a high status something changed – almost invisibly – in the relations between two Presidents, former and present. Dmitri Medvedev has not pretending to dominate, but he started to dominate, though in some little moments. For example, during the parade of the Presidential regiment it was not Dmitri Medvedev who started the conversation with his friend Vladimir Putin: the new President took a pause, while the old one couldn't.
42 years old Dmitri Medvedev is surely not a puppet president. He is rather a dark horse, a joker in the pack who can be easily transformed to any type of the Head of State. It seems to me that he will soon become a new authoritarian President of Russia – like Putin, but with different style.