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The identity of Putin's successor is now in little doubt. Dmitry Medvedev has received the endorsement of the four Kremlin-friendly parties and Putin himself. As power begins to shift away from Putin (in theory, anyway), what are we to make of the successor? Following last month's developments, RBTH asked Russian bloggers about Medvedev: will he have real influence, or will he simply be a front for powerful and brooding Kremlin elites?

The overwhelming majority of bloggers likened Medvedev to a political marionette - at least for the time being. On the other hand, many also identified similarities with 1999, when a virtually unknown Vladimir Putin was propelled onto the Russian political stage. User tuarisa writes: "With Medvedev's ascension to the presidential post, nothing will change significantly. But I'm having déjà vu: haven't we seen this somewhere already? Did anybody know anything about Vladimir Putin, after all."

User misamoll focused on behind-the-scenes maneuvering: "Medvedev did not choose himself. He is simply the alternative figure that satisfies several Kremlin camps: the siloviki (security organs), businessmen and politicians. But when he gets his hands on real presidential authority - maybe not right away but in a year - he'll be able to switch the key figures in the government and work for himself, not for those who put him there."

Other bloggers decided to adopt a more light-hearted approach when considering Medvedev. User gurzuff noted how Medvedev "is neither tall nor broad-shouldered, but talks well," while tolstolobic, after watching Medvedev on TV, claimed him to be no politician, but instead "a hypnotizer." User fuji_oka went as far as proposing Medvedev for Hollywood, writing: "I may be mistaken regarding what kind of a person he is, but he looks like the principal bad guy from a Mafia movie."

Thinking about whether anything will change with Medvedev's rise to power, bloggers are either pessimistic, like demiuses who wrote: "Exchanging members of the political elite (Putin-Medvedev) won't change anything. It won't be worse, it won't be better," or neutral, believing Medvedev will only show his true face at a later date. g_bess, for example, argued "Medvedev looks like a technical figure in a game. But... we should not forget that he will hold the presidential post of a nuclear state in his hands. A person lacking political aspirations could not rise so high. This means that Medvedev likes the authority... My forecast is that once he is the President, he will make Putin regret putting him in that position.

The Russian blogosphere has almost tripled in 12 months. These summaries have been taken from recent posts on the special community set up for this newspaper,
http://community.livejournal.com/opinion_ru, and are compiled by Marina Pustilnik.

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