On September 8th, Russia’s two most prominent Dimas (President Medvedev and Representative to NATO Rogozin) both delivered speeches in Yaroslavl at the Global Policy Forum. The theme of the conference was “The Modern State in the Age of Social Diversity.” Rogozin elected to take part in a talk dedicated to “Global Security and Local Conflicts.” When he took the floor, however, he dedicated his remarks to “the nationalities question in Europe and Russia,” declaring the failure of multiculturalism and “pseudo-tolerance.” When Medvedev addressed the Forum’s Plenary Session (hours after Rogozin spoke), the President delivered a long and forceful defense of diversity, blaming poverty for ethnic and religious tensions (echoing Mikhail Prokhorov’s recent statements), and criticizing those in Russia who would exploit nationality divisions.
Commenting on the fact that Medvedev did not (a) announce whether or not he would run for reelection in 2012, or (b) set aside his speech to discuss transport security in the wake of recent plane crashes, Ellen Barry of the New York Times criticized the President for “going ahead with his script, a 30-minute discourse on the state’s approach to diversity.” Ms. Barry’s point is not irrational. Every time Medvedev steps into public to speak and does not address the 2012 question, he appears more indecisive and unlikely to return to the Kremlin. Since Medvedev’s bungled press conference in May, when he built up journalists’ expectations about a reelection revelation and then didn’t deliver, the foreign press has lost all patience with Russia’s commander and chief. “By the time he took his seat, the implication seemed clear,” Barry writes, “Mr. Medvedev was not prepared to fight for his job.”
While Russia’s third president could very well turn out to be a one-termer, the evidence in Yaroslavl hardly implies that he’s not fighting for his job. A gaping omission in Barry’s September 11th article is any mention of Rogozin’s speech, which–placed next to Medvedev’s–represents a clear polemic between civic patriotism (Medvedev) and ethnic nationalism (Rogozin). Continue reading ‘Just A Man & His Will to Survive: Medvedev the Fighter?’ »