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Putin ready to continue modernization, Medvedev as PM to get free hand - Rahr

November 12, 2011, 7:24 UTC+3

According Rahr, Putin is ready to see Medvedev’s government implement "rather radical reform"

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POZDNYAKOVO, November 12 (Itar-Tass) —— In case of his presidential election victory Vladimir Putin will be prepared to proceed along the path of modernization, and Dmitry Medvedev as the head of government will have a free hand, says the director of the Bertold Beitz Center of the German Society for Foreign Policy, Alexander Rahr.

"As far as I understand, Putin is prepared to go further along the path of modernization and, if I got the message right, he said that Medvedev will be tasked to lead the government and his own team he would offer, and which Putin as president would approve. Also, the liberal course will remain, and Medvedev - in some areas of economic activity - will have even more powers than the president himself," Rahr said to journalists after Putin’s meeting with members of the international discussion club Valdai.

According Rahr, Putin is ready to see Medvedev’s government implement "rather radical reform."

"I think that Medvedev is about to be given carte blanche for several years to come. He is not leaving the stage, and I think this is one of the main signals that Putin wanted to send here, at the Valdai club meeting. The signal is the tandem exists and Medvedev is the future generation, he actually did everything correctly, even though they had differences in foreign policy," Rahr said.

According to him, after the appointment as prime minister Medvedev will be charged to carry out liberal reforms, "of course, under the supervision of the president."

"I think that Putin has decided to deal with the most key issues - security, energy and foreign policy. But Medvedev will be given a very big piece of the economic policy, and then he will have a very strong influence in Russia. He (Putin) did not directly say so, but I realized that there was a new agreement between Medvedev and Putin and that part of what Medvedev was trying to do will continue," Rahr said.

He said for the Western audience these statements were unexpected and interesting, because in the West many believe that Putin "is returning as the sole leader, while the prime minister under him will play the same role that was played by former prime ministers at the beginning of Putin's rule."

"I think one can say that the tandem is not dead, and Medvedev will be transformed into the leader of a future generation," said Rahr.

He said that he had the impression that the prime minister was ready to "democratize local authorities and, perhaps, once again to introduce the direct elections of governors."

He quoted the prime minister as saying that the complex historical period, when it was necessary to create a vertical power structure to stabilize the country, had been completed.

"Russia today is stable, and now we can think about some changes to the system, and not toward greater autocracy, but towards involving the grass-roots in shaping future policies," the political scientist said about his understanding of the prime minister’s position. He added he did not believe that Putin had said so for the sake of pleasing the western audience.

"My impression is that it was not the Putin the West is afraid of, that it was not the Putin of 2005-2006, who built the chain of command and, as they put in the West, “clamped down on democracy," Rahr said.

In his opinion, there was quite possible a compromise between Putin's position and the program proposed by Medvedev. "In my opinion, he is ready for the steps that could be called liberal modernization,” said the analyst.

"There were many compliments towards Medvedev, but it was certainly felt that the decision had actually been taken, he was on the verge of taking power and, of course, he was talking to us like someone who runs the country," the German political scientist summed up his impressions of the meeting.

Rahr also said a few words about what he heard from the Russian prime minister about the political system of the country. In particular, he said that Putin believed Russia needed a Russian multi-party system.

"However, it will not include many parties. He hopes for the consolidation of the individual parties and for the advance of democracy within each of these parties," said the analyst.

At the same time Rahr said Putin was absolutely convinced of the victory of the United Russia in the forthcoming elections to the State Duma.



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