Dmitry Medvedev, from a moderate president to a regime hawk

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During his presidency, between 2008 and 2012, the liberal wing had high hopes for him. Today, the vice-president of the Russian Security Council has become one of the staunchest defenders of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

He will probably never dance to the musicamerican boythe Russian hit from the 1990s, to which he was seen awkwardly swaying his hips and slightly out of time in a 2011 viral video.

At that time, Dmitry Medvedev was the head of state of the Russian Federation and embodied the hope for change for the liberal wing of society after eight years of Putin’s presidency. Enthusiastic about new technologies, saying that “ freedom (was) better than unfreedom “, he made innovation one of the priorities of his mandate and began the construction of an “innovation city” in Skolkovo near Moscow, the Russian analogue of Silicon Valley. He visited the US high-tech hotbed himself in 2010 before meeting Barack Obama and enjoying a hamburger and fries with his American counterpart at a Washington cafe. It was from California that he wrote his first tweet.

Morons and degenerates

If he remained present, since then the content of his messages on social networks has changed radically in recent months, and in particular after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. I often get asked why my Telegram messages are so harsh. The answer is: I hate them. They are morons and degenerates. They want death for Russia. And as long as I live, I will do everything to make them disappear », Dmytro Medvedev recently wrote in Telegram, without clarifying whether he was talking about Ukraine or Westerners. In social networks, as well as in television interviews, he threatens the world with nuclear war, declares that ” knights of the apocalypse are on the way and promises Ukraine a tragic end.

Medvedev is visibly trying to demonstrate his relevance and loyalty in the new Russian environment », was born after the start of the war in Ukraine, analyzes Ben Noble, a specialist in Russia at University College London. “ He really doesn’t want to be seen as a pro-Western and relatively liberal former president, because if he maintains that image, it could be dangerous for him. ».

If Dmytro Medvedev multiplies shocking statements that make this moderation a hawk, it is because he really has no choice, Russian political scientist Dmytro Orechkin, a lecturer at the Free University of Riga, where he had to emigrate after the start of the war in Ukraine, assesses for his part. “ Either he stays and clings to his place in Putin’s regime, upholding his values ​​and shouting the loudest, or he loses his status, his income, his privileges. What else can he do? He cannot escape to Europe, his vines have been confiscated », the reviewer remarks somewhat ironically.

an object of ridicule

Vineyards in Tuscany, palaces, luxury residences, yachts: so much exclusive property that Dmytro Medvedev owns, judging by the video of the opponent Oleksii Navalny, who is now in prison. This investigation, published in 2017 and viewed tens of millions of times, became the source of large suppressed demonstrations in Moscow and other Russian cities.

Dmitri Medvedev’s image, already derided for his inconsistency, has taken an even bigger hit, especially since during his presidency he has regularly stated that he is actively fighting the corruption plaguing the country. “ This investigation, of course, damaged his image, especially in liberal circles. », – says Dmytro Oreshkin. However, the Russian political scientist insists that the opponent, the killer of corruption, would not be able to conduct such an investigation without outside help. “ There were high-ranking people who did not like Medvedev, who gave him access to incriminating documents and allowed drones to film his residence. “.

Presented as weak, docile, not very brave and, above all, very loyal to Vladimir Putin, to whom he wisely returned the reins of the Kremlin after one mandate in 2012, Dmitry Medvedev boasts unparalleled longevity. Prime Minister between 2012 and 2020. But long before he was succeeded by Mykhailo Mishustin, who was appointed without much influence as vice-president of the Security Council, his political weight continued to decline in favor of a clan of security men, men from the security apparatus who never liked him.

Medvedev does not have the natural support of the elite, especially the security forces », explains Ben Noble, who sees his relatively recent shift in rhetoric as a sign that the former president “ is trying to forge ties with these hawks of the Russian elite with the prospect of possibly becoming a potential successor to Vladimir Putin, with the support of these most aggressive members “. In this case, the vice president of the Security Council can count on his son, 27-year-old Ilya, who was recently issued a party ticket of United Russia, headed by his father, under cameras.

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