“De-Medvedevization”


About seven years ago I audited a course at the UW on Russian history.  Surrounded by 20-year-olds I offered a general comment on the first day about the role kremlinologists played while I was growing up.  The professor having a birds’ eye view of the class stopped me mid-thought upon seeing the questioning look on the faces of the younger students, and defined the term.

Truth is as a teenager I thought being a Russian scholar and perhaps working in the state department as a kremlinologist would be rather exciting.  I have always enjoyed better understanding governments that seem so cloaked in mystery.  The Kremlin has always been such a place.

That memory came back this afternoon after reading of the latest twists and turns taking place in Russia was it undergoes “de-Medvedevization”.

On Thursday, lawmakers began the process of revisiting yet another modest change from Mr. Medvedev’s constrained presidency: his decision last year to end the practice of changing the time twice a year, moving Russia permanently to summer time. The bill’s sponsor did not mince words, saying Mr. Medvedev’s decision was “absolutely unacceptable for a huge part of” Russia.

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, journalists could tell a political figure had fallen out of favor by deciphering a sort of bureaucratic code: an article in Pravda would appear, pointing at “drawbacks” in his rule, or his spot on the Red Square receiving line would drift toward the back. If it got really bad, he would be airbrushed out of group photographs.       

While it has not reached that point for Mr. Medvedev, the four and a half months since he left the presidency have brought a pointed departure from the course he set. The words “reset” or “modernization” are seldom mentioned, privatization of state-owned companies is in doubt and the direct gubernatorial elections Mr. Medvedev reinstated as a parting gesture have been weakened by the insertion of a Kremlin-controlled screening process for the candidates.       

Criticism of Mr. Medvedev has begun to appear in mainstream outlets. Thursday’s news about the time change seemed like more of the same. “So in winter it will not get light an hour later, and in summer it will get dark an hour earlier — all this with only one goal: so that Mr. Medvedev, greeting the early dusk, will remember that he is nobody,” wrote the journalist Mikhail Fishman on Facebook.

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