The Continuation of the Putinist Regime under Medvedev
The constitution of the Russian Federation limits the presidency to two four year consecutiveterms. However, after a four year interim period, ex-Presidents may contest in upcoming elections(Schneider, 2009: 219-220). Contrary to the recommendations of some and expectations of many,Putin did not amend the Russian constitution to prolong his tenure (Hale and Colton, 2009: 21;Schneider, 2009: 219-220; The Economic Intelligence Unit, 2008: 2). However, when PresidentMedvedev, a few months after his inauguration, amended the constitution to extend the “presidential term to six years and the parliamentary term to five years”, critics were not surprised.In fact, they were reinforced in their view that Medvedev's “purpose” was solely to “provide andinterregnum” and that Putin had thus found a way to maintain influence at present, reinstate andmaximise his political stronghold in the next election (The Economic Intelligence Unit, 2008: 2).Indications that Putin was not simply going to renounce his power became evident during the earlystages of Medvedev's campaign. Voters were left under no illusion about the nature of Medvedev'spolitical programme. In fact, he “vowed to execute the 'Putin plan' in the office of President” (Haleand Colton, 2009: 24; Veretennikova, 2007: 1). Putin's future stronghold was also asserted duringMedvedev's inauguration ceremony in which Putin benefitted from more airtime than the newlyelected president. Journalists report how Putin's “farewell speech” was essentially a “policyspeech” (Ryzhkov, 2008: 5). Ryzhkov (2008: 5) also notes how Medvedev's speech did not mark asignificant departure from Putinist rhetoric for it was saturated with “standard pseudo-democratic” stereotypes. Medvedev also explicitly thanked Vladimir Putin for his “unfailing personal support ...[which he] always received from him”. Most importantly, however, he stated that this “closecooperation, would continue in the future” (Medvedev, 2008: online; Ryzhkov, 2008: 5). As such,both leaders made no secret about the nature of their arrangement (Ryzhkov, 2008: 5). Criticshave argued that the tandem is “no more than a vehicle for Putin to keep his supposedly neo-totalitarian hands on the helm until his return to the presidency in 2012” (Hahn, 2010: 229).
Kremlin vs White House: The Real Distribution of Power
Russia's semi-presidential political system is dominated by a dual executive at the apex of itspolitical organisation. On a comparative level, the Russian presidency is a source of unrivaled