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Jun 12, 2022
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The strange behavior of Dmitry Medvedev: “Burned all the bridges”

“I hate them. They are bastards and degenerates…” Dmitry Medvedev’s speeches in social networks are becoming more and more irreconcilable towards the West and the “fifth column” inside the country. And more and more, shall we say, emotionally colored. Note liberal and “dove” before our eyes turned into a terry “hawk”. And the last, quoted post amazed, perhaps, even the “hawkish” camp. Aleksey Makarkin, First Vice-President of the Center for Political Technologies, reflects on the causes of the metamorphosis.

– Alexei Vladimirovich, a fairly common, common explanation for Medvedev’s more frequent and more incendiary posts is that he earns points, trying to return the status of a successor. It works, so to speak, for this perspective. logical version?

– I’m not sure that now it is worth focusing on the issue of succession. Now closer problems are being solved. Including if we talk about Medvedev’s tasks. Moreover, as far as succession is concerned, his latest publication is counterproductive from this point of view. The duties of the president are connected, among other things, with the fact that he has to communicate with Western leaders.

How long has the current Russian president spoken to Macron? According to Macron, about 100 hours. And this communication will continue. Imagine: Medvedev becomes president, and he will have to communicate with those whom he called so. But how do you communicate after that? How to build relationships? No, I don’t think it’s a matter of succession.

“Then in what?”

— I think that everything is easier. It is about the role and place in the team. And in general about belonging to the team. Medvedev has a reputation as a Westerner, which has developed during his presidency. And he actually did quite a lot for this. One can recall his personal relationship with Obama, and the reset, and statements about freedom… And when he left the presidency, he also did not immediately turn into a conservative. There was, for example, if you remember, such a project as the “Open Government”.

But what was once a competitive advantage looks completely different now. In the conditions of a special military operation, in the conditions of a break with the West, such a past, such a background, is a rather serious problem. Medvedev invested too much in his time in modernization, in Westernization. And now his task is not succession. The task is to stay in the elite. I would even say – in the superelite: after all, he is the deputy chairman of the Security Council.

The rest of the presidential team doesn’t have to prove anything, they don’t have to renounce anything. They have been criticizing the West for a long time, they have long spoken out for their own way of development. Medvedev, in order to be a natural part of the team, must in some sense make up for lost time. Which is what he is doing now. Shows that he is the same as everything, that what was connected with Obama, with the reset, is a distant past. That he burned all the bridges.

– Does he act like this, faced with a real danger of being expelled from the super-elite, or, as they say, just in case?

– Just in case, I think. But if Medvedev had behaved the way he used to, as it corresponded to his image, the danger would probably really exist. We often have a frivolous attitude towards Medvedev. Which became even more intensified after his last statement. But he was still president for four years and prime minister for almost eight. This person, no matter how you treat him, has a huge hardware experience. He understands the rules of the game. And he understands that now everyone needs to be consolidated, everyone needs to be one team, everyone needs to be critics of the West.

– That is, from the point of view of command logic, it turns out that he does everything correctly?

– I would say this: the vector that he has now determined, the vector for emphasized patriotism, is quite correct from the point of view of command logic. But there is a vector, and there are methods. Medvedev is clearly overdoing it. When the image changes so abruptly, it always causes dissonance.

Those people who once sympathized with him, he finally pushed away. As for the representatives of the other camp, those who were suspicious of him, they, of course, do not take all this seriously. The image changes too abruptly, too defiantly.

But on the other hand, it is a demonstration of fidelity, a demonstration of loyalty. If the task is to remain in the super-elite, to remain a member of the team, then I think it has been solved. He will remain with them.

– And yet, if we ignore Dmitry Anatolyevich’s personal experiences and the current political moment and try, so to speak, to look beyond the horizon: does Medvedev have a chance to inherit the presidency?

Well, we don’t have a monarchy after all. A president cannot simply point a finger at a person and say: tomorrow he will be president. According to all polls, people want the head of state, as before, to be elected by the people. It has taken root over 30 years. That is, the issue is not only of a hardware nature, but also of a public and political nature. Any successor must go to the polls.

It is clear that if the elections were held today, then people would vote for the government, no matter who represents it. Now, as always happens in Russia in emergency situations, there is a consolidation around the flag, pro-government mobilization. But the emergency cannot last forever. In time, she will leave. Speaking of the future, I can hardly imagine Medvedev as a presidential candidate.

Everyone will start remembering. For some, he is the prime minister, who is associated with raising the retirement age. For others, he will forever be the president who met with Obama and announced the reset. The Russian anti-Western does not forget anything. For those people who treat the West the way Medvedev does now, he will always be a suspicious figure. Still others will remember these, his last statements: how will he represent Russia in relations with the West after them?

– That is, to put it mildly, not the most passable option?

– I would even say that of all the candidates for successors who are named by our political technologists, and there are quite a lot of names, in my opinion, this is the most impassable option. There will be a variety of claims from a variety of sides. Everyone will show Medvedev something of their own.

– Medvedev’s statements make us recall the famous foreign policy “feints” of Nikita Khrushchev: “We will bury you!”, “We will show you Kuzka’s mother!”

“People were unhappy with Khrushchev for many reasons. First of all, of course, on social and economic. But his rhetoric did not really add to his popularity. There is a widespread point of view that a politician should be close to the masses, speak their language. The same Khrushchev emphasized in every possible way that he worked as a mechanic. But this caused an ambivalent reaction in people. And then, over time, rather negative. Like, since you are a locksmith, why did you get into the bosses? Go work as a locksmith!

– At least, Nikita Sergeevich, unlike Dmitry Anatolyevich, did not fall out of the image.

– Yes, Khrushchev’s emphasized demonstration of his insufficient education, his common people was immeasurably more in line with Khrushchev’s image than the way Medvedev is behaving now, Medvedev’s image. Medvedev is a man from an educated, intellectual milieu. And when he tries to address other audiences, it looks, shall we say, not quite natural.

But I repeat: even Khrushchev’s image was imperfect. People did not want to see the leader of the person who behaved with them in a familiar way. Not only some cultural figures, artists from the Manezh, offended by his statements, but also the same locksmiths. Therefore, when Brezhnev came, more solid, respectable, balanced, he was received very well in this contrast. For quite a long time, until the mid-1970s, Brezhnev was very popular.

Communication style is a very important thing for a politician. I will give a historical example of more than a hundred years ago. Sergei Yulievich Witte was one of the smartest officials in the Russian Empire. He was, perhaps, the first official who tried to introduce elements of public policy into the Russian monarchy.

In 1905, as chairman of the Council of Ministers, Witte wrote an appeal to the workers – not to rebel, but to cooperate constructively with the authorities. Prior to that, he visited America, where he negotiated peace with Japan. There he shook hands with the driver, gave interviews … In general, he charmed the Americans.

After that, Witte decided to charm the Russian workers. But he “cut off” at the very first phrase. He began: “Brother workers…” The St. Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, in which the young Leon Trotsky played a key role, declared in its official reply: “The proletarians are in no way related to Count Witte.” Regardless of how one relates to Trotsky, the answer, it must be admitted, was brilliant.

That is, intonation is very important in politics. No need to flirt with the electorate or with the target audience. You need to have your own style and know the measure. And look like a solid person who can solve really serious problems.

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