A major part of Medvedev’s problem is that the official plans for 2013 and beyond, which he was obliged to defend, depart further and further from reality as economic growth slackens and Russia’s “locomotive” industries decelerate to stagnation (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, January 25). Many in his government are ready to acknowledge the need to correct the target figures and even to advance the stalled reforms—first of all by privatizing state corporations, but also reducing “red tape” that ties up all spheres of economic activity. Putin also feels that his instructions on ensuring steady growth are not coming true, but he is less and less inclined to listen to liberal economists and turns to traditionalists who advocate all-penetrating state control while praising his “manual management” (Gazeta.ru, January 23). These “anti-capitalist” prescriptions fit better with the ambition to revive Russia’s defense-industrial complex by executing a colossal rearmament program, which Putin has made the central enterprise of his third presidential term.
One particular goal of coming to Davos in great numbers was to demonstrate the “unshakeable” unity of Putin’s elites, so Medvedev spoke on the same panel with former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, whom he angrily dismissed from the government in September 2011, and Arkady Dvorkovich, who presently leads the liberals in the government—and they debated with German Gref, who […]