Russia Recent History Politics Mikhail Gorbachev Vladimir Putin Dmitry Medvedev

Russia Recent History & Politics

Mikhail Gorbachev Vladimir Putin Dmitry Medvedev

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Mikhail Gorbachev Vladimir Putin Dmitry Medvedev

 Russia History

The roots of modern Russia can be traced back four hundred years to the trading area of ‘Muscovy’ which emerged to dominate neighbouring principalities.

Ivan 1V (often referred to as Ivan the Terrible became the first Tsar), followed by the three hundred year rule of the Romanov family which famously included Peter the Great and later Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century.

The rule of the Tsars ended in October 1917 with the Bolshevik Revolution led by Lenin. A decade of internal power struggles within the ruling Communist Party followed until Stalin became its leader in 1929 until his death in 1953.

Stalin’s intransigence to economic reform was in part ameriolated by his successors Khrushchev and Brezhnev but  significant reforms of Russian economics and politics awaited the election of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985

 

Perestroika A New World Order – Mikhail Gorbachev

Gorbachev’s policy of ‘glasnos’  (openness) won him world wide acclaim and some view him as one of the greatest international statesmen of the 20th century.

At home he was not as popular – his implementation of the economic policy of  perestroika (restructuring) though radical was too late to address the inheritent problems of the Russian economy.

This failure though partly the responsibilty of the west, was reportedly highlighted by the old guard who openly charged him with be responsible for the break up of the USSR. He resigned in 1991 several months after a failed coup which gave his successor Yeltsin the political initiative. Further Reading: ‘Perestroika’ by Mikhail Gorbachev (Collins) ISBN 0-00-637356-9

Yeltsin

Yeltsin presidency lasted five years during which his attempts to continue the reforms already underway met mounting opposition. In 1993 he attempted to abolish the existing parliment which when it rebelled he ordered tanks to open fire on. He won the political battle but his subsequent reforms were so unpopular that he resigned on Millenium Night

 

Primeminster Putin

Vladimir Putin, former KGB agent in Berlin, was first elected President in the spring of 2000 and again in 2004. His presidency has been dominated by attempts to re-assert Moscow’s control over Russia’s regions. He has strengthed  ties with Belarus, but the new orders in Georgia, and the Ukraine coupled with unrest in Chetyna and other caucases indicate this policy has not worked well.

He was probably the most popular president ever in Russia due to his economic policies which significantly improved living standards and established Russia as a major economic force. In the eyes of many Russians Putin gave them back their dignity.

The disagreements between Gazprom (whom the Russia’s Government hold a 51% share in) and the Ukraine in 2006 and January 2009 caused disruption to exports of Russian gas to Central Europe. Putin noted this and has at times used the dependency of neighbouring Belarus and the Ukraine on Russian gas as a political lever in an attempt to deter these states from ‘going west’ like other former Soviet occupied states.

Putin, who is markedly proud of his nationality distrusted the West partly because of various aspects of George W, Bush’s Foriegn policy. The detoriating relationship between the two countries was viewed by some as the start of a new ‘cold war’. This perception was enhanced by Putin willingness to illustrate Russia’s capabilties by, for example, flying military aircraft which had been mothballed since the communist governments he once worked for fell.

Many critics charged Putin as having the poltics of these former soviet governments. This is doubtful given his economic policies but his means of staying in power mirrored the old school. He was widely critiised for his policy of silencing critics and the Kremlin’s increasing control of the media.

As a president he was good for Russia and he may not have needed to resort to habits of a bygone era. Internationally these unhealthy traits caused concern. Many commentators expect him to return the Presidential Office in the future. but for now as Russian Primeminster he still holds a considerable influence on the national and international policies that Russia embarks upon. Some of his critics, particularly those in the west, believe that he is aggressive expansionist and dangerous and cite his role in the attack on the counter attack on Georgia in 2008 to this end. However it is concievable that as a nationalist he feels the arrival of Nato in nations bordering Russia is equally threatening. The merits of US / Nato missile bases in the Czech Republic and Poland and the Ukraine’s objectives to join the western clubs would underpin this reasoning. If the west ameriolates its attitude to Russia he may be more accommodating and reasonable than he is currently given credit for.

Profile Of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

In western terms Dmitry Medvedev background is middle class. He was born on September 14th 1965 in the then named Leningrad now St Petersburg. where his parents were lecturers at the city’s university. In an intervies with ITOGI a Russian news magazine (endorsed by the Kremlin) Mr Medevdev said farm workers, a blacksmith and a hat maker were amongst ancestors. He also recollected living in a small 40sq. m council flat in Kupchino just outside St Petersburg. He also makes reference to his employment s a street cleaner which funded his higher education.

Whilst at secondary school he became close friends with another pupil ‘Svetlana’ who he later married at the age of 26. Amongst the things they shared were the hope of one day being able to by Deep Purple Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin records and jeans.

They have one son IIYA born in 1996. Mr Medvedev is an avid collector of vinyl records and has every vinyl record released by Deep Purple even though their music was the former communist state.

He is reported to swim nearly a mile every night and morning, regularly weight train, jog and practice yoga. He is a supporter of the Zenit Saint Petersburg Football Club. Other interests include chess reading and writing. He also appreciates ‘internet slang dialect’ which he believes can be utilised as a tool of literacy and promoting culture.

He studied ‘Civil Law ‘ at the former Leningrad University (now renamed St Petersburg University) . After his Civil Law graduation in 1987 he obtained a Phd in Private Law in 1990. Between 1991 and 1996 he worked in an advisory capacity for Vladmir Putin at the Mayor Office in St Petersburg. His education is similiar to that of Mr Putin except that Mr Putin also studied philosophy before working for the KGB in Berlin.

Whilst in St Petersburg Mr Medvedev also worked between 1993 and 1999 as the Legal Director of a timber merchants IIim Pulp serving on the board of one of their subsidaries. In December 1999 just weeks begore he became President, Mr Putin appointed him as the Deputy Head of the Kremlin’s Presidential Staff.

He was a key advisor to Mr Putin in the Russian 2000 Presidential Election Campaign. After Mr Putin became Russian President, Mr Medvedev was appointed was appointed to head the Gazprom Board of Directors a company which the Russian Government hold a 51% stake in. He held this position until 2003 when he became the Head of the Kremlin’s Presidential Staff following the retirement of his former boss.

His loyalty to Putin as the As Head of Presidential Staff was rewarded in November 2005 when he was apponted First Deputy Primeminster and First Deputy Chairman of the Council of Priority National Projects. This project was established by Mr Putin in the aurumn of that year with the objective of improving social welfare in areas such as agriculture, education health and housing.

In December 2007 Mr Putin announced that Mr Medvedev was his preferred succesor as Russian President. This endorsement by Mr Putin’s who is probaby the most popular Rusian President ever, is thought to have assured his election as President even though he has stood or been elected to any public office before.

Many observers of Russian Politics believe that he will be a ‘puppet’ president with the strings being pulled by the new Primemister Putin. Though this may have some truth it’s accuracy may ve overstated. Mr Medvedev and Mr Putin have been close friends for nearly two decades and worked together on a day to day basis for the last three years. They share very similiar outlooks on life in some respects, though Mr Medvedev is more enigmatic.

Unlike Mr Putin, Mr Medvedev is not tied to a any political ideology (he has been quoted as say ideologies are harmful) and never been a member of a political party. At 23 he was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church, which he on reflection he described as ‘ the moment, I believe, a new life started for me,” he said. Unlike his predecessor he has not served in the former KGB and the FSB that replaced it.

He has expressed the importance he attaches to democracy when he said ‘ ‘We are well aware that no non-democratic state has ever become truly prosperous for one simple reason: freedom is better than non-freedom.”

Though a supporter of free enterprise he has been critical of the power ‘Oligarts’ Russian billionaires who made their fortune after the fall of communism and under the Yeltsin Presidency. As first Deputy Primeminster he legislated reforms in the relationship between the Kremlin and the Oligarts.

However his pragmatic attitude to life was illustated in January 2007 when he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos: “We aim to create big Russian corporations and will back their foreign economic activities. “But the role of the state certainly should not involve telling any particular company or sector how to carry out diversification. “Even if the state retains a controlling interest… we aim to create public companies with a substantial share of foreign investment in their capital.” It is thought by some commentators in that time he will render a more moderate approach to the West than is evident in present Russian ‘s Policy though changes in American Foreign Policy might be a pre-quisite of this.

In 2007 he published a paper on social policy and economic development in the Russia which is used in Russian universities. He is also the co-author of a new publication ‘A Commentary on the Federal Law “On the State Civil Service of the Russian Federation..

Those who know meet him often comment on how courteous and respectful he is but he is renowned for not suffering fools glady or in practice

Editorial Comment: Is Medvedev Merely Putin’s Puppet ?

Mr Putins comment in Febuary 2007 that he does need not need tutoring may prove correct. Whilst the tag of nepotism is inevitable when looking at the power sharing in the Kremlin it is difficult to believe that Mr Medvedev would want to be part a ‘cold war’ but he like Putin is proudly Russian and would not shy away from any threatened Russian soverignity.

His pragmatic nature suggests he would equally be prepared to facilitate improved relations with the west especially the United States but that willingness will not be evident whilst the US persists on siting missile bases on Eastern Europe.

 

 

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