At first blush, Vladimir Putin’s decision to anoint the relatively liberal Dmitry Medvedev as his successor rather than the hawkish, former KGB agent Sergey Ivanov appears to be a signal that Russia is not set on out and out confrontation with the West. But this New York Times story suggests that Putin might just be playing for time, realising that the West will be keen to accommodate Medvedev as the least worst option and so likely to accede to more of Russia’s demands. The great unanswered question, is what will Putin do once his term expires. The chairmanship of Gazprom is now open with Medvedev’s move.
PS This stat, highlighted by the Washington Post, gives you a flavour for just how managed Russia’s democracy is:
“In 2006, there wasn't a single negative report on Medvedev in the news broadcasts of six television channels”.