The Medvedev Presidency: Russia's Direction and the Implications for Foreign Policy
Before the economic crisis of late 2008, Vladimir Putin’s political regime ensured the election of Dmitry Medvedev to the office of the presidency while Putin shifted to the role of prime minister—a move intended to solidify the Putin administration’s hold over the Kremlin. Supposedly, the Medvedev-Putin alliance sought to modernize the raw-materials-based economy in an attempt to improve its level of vulnerability. However, the fall of oil prices has precipitated disastrous consequences on Russia’s economy, and, as a result, the stability of the Medvedev-Putin regime has faltered. It is now unclear what the power dynamic between Medvedev and Putin will be, and if Putin will continue to maintain his dominant position in Russian politics. Much of the reason for the current regime’s grip on power is the general dissatisfaction with the reforms of the early 1990. This recent return to a bureaucratic economic system and a political system headed by an autocratic-style leader begat a period of prosperity and renewed the dream of regaining the geopolitical status Russia had during the Soviet period. At the present, Russia is ill-equipped to handle many of the challenges wrought by the economic crisis, and the ruling elite has lost many of its financial resources and public support. It is still unclear whether the current regime will survive the challenges it currently faces. Although there exists a possibility for an alternative, liberal governing model to emerge, it is equally possible that the Putin government will find a way to uphold the status quo. This is a profoundly uncertain period in Russia’s political development.