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What does Medvedev want? (And does it matter?)

What does Medvedev want? (And does it matter?)

As part of our package on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union, I’ve got a short photo-essay up on the evolution of Russia ruling tandem. As it turns out, the timing couldn’t be better since we now have the newest data-point in the ongoing game of speculation as to who is going to be president of Russia after 2012. 

In a wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times, Medvedev is asked point blank whether he wants to run next year:

Dmitry Medvedev: Well this is not a very original question, I should say. This is like a game, of sorts, already. People ask this question and they understand what kind of answer they are going to get; it’s quite an evident answer. I would like to say one thing to you, I think that any leader who occupies such a post as president, simply must want to run. But another question is whether he is going to decide whether he’s going to run for the presidency or not. So his decision is somewhat different from his willingness to run. So this is my answer. But everything else I’ve just said at the panel session, where I asked people to be patient for a little while, to keep up the intrigue and the suspense. That will be more interesting.

It’s a fairly opaque answer but it certainly sounds like Medvedev wants to run, but isn’t sure whether he’ll be able to. (Later in the interview he seems to dismiss the idea that he and Putin would run against each other, saying the scenario "is hard to imagine." 

As Miriam Elder points out, "with Medvedev it’s never been a question of what he thinks, but what he has the power to do."