We have now two presidents in Russia: old one is Mister Putin and a new one, appointed on March 2, Mister Medvedev. That idiocy will be formally ended on May 7, when Mr. Medvedev will be inaugurated in Kremlin’s seat. But nevertheless, for more than two months, Russia was headed by two presidents.
As to Putin’s in his first years of presidency to Mr. Medvedev also could be addressed banal questions: "Who is Mister Medvedev?" Because Mr. Medvedev is not a political figure, he is a practically unknown bureaucrat, one of a huge crowd of bureaucrats surrounding Putin. As Putin himself is a small bureaucrat, one from a huge crowd of "chinovniks" surrounding Yeltsin. If the elected president had been named Zyuganov or Yavlinski or Kasparov or even Limonov, nobody in Russia would have asked a question: "Who is that man?" Because these are political leaders, actors in Russian political play. They are known to general population. Mr. Medvedev, on the contrary, is not known, or wasn’t known, at all. Mr. Medvedev is not a leader of political party, he is not a member of political party, so he is not a political man. We can guess that he is a member of Putin’s circle of close friends, a member of some inner circle. If he is to be appointed to the post of guarding of their interests, we are guessing that Mr. Medvedev is trusted by Mr. Putin’s group and Mr. Putin himself.
So the answer to the question of "Who is Mister Medvedev?" is shamelessly simple. He is a guardian of Mr. Putin’s property and of property of members Mr. Putin’s group. In Russian criminal world could be found an exact definition of Mr. Medvedev’s role: he is "smotriaschiy"—the caretaker, somebody who is looking after the property and after interests of the criminal group. I didn’t say that Mr. Medvedev is a criminal himself, he is wearing expensive suites and expensive ties, I said that he is chosen to be the caretaker who looks after interests of Mr. Putin group.
Yes, of course, they have learned the lessons of the modern world. So, they don’t call themselves a "komissars" or "brothers" (at least not in public). They have learned how to manipulate public opinion, how to exterminate that very public opinion. For that purpose they took over the most important television channels, the bulk of written press. In order to be able to defend their regime from accusations of breaking the liberty of the press, they left "Ekho of Moscow," "REN-TV," "Kommersant" and "Novaya Gazeta" alone, so they can speak out. As Putin before did before him, Medvedev now can say to the Western reproaches in strangling the liberty of speech: Look, we have "Ekho Moscow," we have "REN-TV," we have "Novaya Gazeta."
Oh, those guys are smart guys. And Mr. Medvedev is smart one. They are smart enough to avoid to look as Lenin or Stalin or Beria. Silky ties, expensive suits, I said. Smiles, smiles, smiles... But smiles and silk ties don’t stop them from being repressive.
Why Mr. Medvedev was elected? Only partially was he elected, because of massive television exposure of his face and his deeds: everyday and everywhere. He was also "elected" because of simple cheating: a system is called "GAS-election," a system of counting of votes that is controlled by FSB. We can presume that FSB in the country called Russian will never let calculate against the interests of Mr. Putin, who was pushing Mr. Medvedev to presidency. Some sources said that Mr. Medvedev got only 27% of the votes, and reasonably thinking 27% is not bad for a nonpolitical man running for presidency. For a small, not convincing "chinovnik," not a communist leader, not a world chess champion, not a popular writer...just Mr. Medvedev from St. Petersburg.