Challenging Vlad

Miriam Elder reacts to the public clash between Russia's ruling duo over Putin's "crusades" comment:

So: wow. Medvedev just totally slammed Putin. Undoubtedly, he was upset that his prime minister spoke first about the situation in Libya (these were the first comments from Putin and Medvedev since the military intervention began on Friday). At the turn of the year, Medvedev publicly criticized Putin for speaking out in the case of jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, but today’s criticism felt stronger and more clear cut. Their positions actually clash (and nicely show the two strands of thought inside Russia on relations with the West).

Some will argue this was their usual "good cop/bad cop" routine -- one speaking to the domestic audience, one speaking to the outside world -- but the ad hoc-iness of it all makes me suspicious about that.

Presidential elections in Russia are less than a year away and the rumor mill is going wild on who will run – Putin or Medvedev? Or some unknown dark horse? There’s talk that the clans around Putin and Medvedev are fighting between themselves to get their candidate out there. This could be the first sign that Medvedev wants to stay on. Or he was just afraid of looking bad. Either way, it’s interesting stuff (if for nothing more than seeing someone yell at Putin which, really, never happens).