Feldberg Professor of Government at Harvard University and Director of Harvard's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. Member of the Valdai Discussion Club Advisory Board.
Research interests: current research concerns leadership, political parties, and the dynamics of regime change in Russia and Eurasia, relations between Russia and the other post-Soviet states, and trends in Russian-American relations.
Selected publications: has written on many aspects of Soviet, Russian, and post-communist politics. Books:“The Dilemma of Reform in the Soviet Union” (1986),“Moscow: Governing the Socialist Metropolis”(1995),“Transitional Citizens: Voters and What Influences Them in the New Russia” (2000), and “Popular Choice and Managed Democracy”(co-author, 2003). His study“Yeltsin: A Political Life”, based on interviews with many of the principals in the story was published in 2008.
Putin has succeeded Yeltsin as a modern leader who renewed the old partocratic elites, becoming a fresh face in the Russian politics. Today he is becoming a representative of the older generation, which is not a tragedy in itself, as statecraft largely comes from experience.
Given the fact that both his appointment as the head of the cabinet and as the leader of the ruling party come straight from Putin, we can come to a conclusion that Putin and Medvedev still have a cooperative relationship, and such a tandem will be maintained at least for the first half of Putin's term.
Once the votes are counted, we will see whether Putin moderates his anti-Western sloganeering. But it will take quite a while longer before we learn if the emerging agenda of a partly-free Russian politics comes to encompass issues of war, peace, and a forward-looking model of international problem solving for the twenty-first century.
It is not inconceivable that Putin will invite Medvedev to proceed with his blessing to a second election and a second term. Increasingly hard to imagine is that in 2012, any more than in 2008, Putin will be content to withdraw from the political field or take on a tutelary role à la Deng Xiaoping in China or Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore.
It is clear that there will not be any real competition, but it is very interesting which of the two leaders, Medvedev or Putin, will be the next president. The decision on who will run for president will be made in the next few months. Nobody knows what these elections will bring.
In a heavily managed political system that rarely generates dramatic headlines, the sacking of Yuri Luzhkov on September 28, after his refusal to go peacefully, is big news. For shock value, the only comparison in the Putin years would be the attack on Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003, although of course Luzhkov has not been imprisoned or charged with a crime. Khodorkovsky when deposed was one of the wealthiest men in Russia; Luzhkov was one of the most powerful. For Russia, this is no garden-variety dispute.