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Russia, U.S.: Obama Wins, Medvedev Speaks

Just hours after Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev delivered his first address to the Federal Assembly, making statements that grabbed attention both at home and in the West.

To Medvedev's proposal to lengthen the presidential term in Russia from four to six years, LJ user oleg-kozyrev responded (RUS):

I've found a way out. I support Medvedev's proposal to rule for six years. Only along with that, they should also change the legislation regarding the duration of the year. One year has to be 243 days long.

Although in his address Medvedev did not congratulate Obama on his victory, nor did he mention the U.S. president-elect by name, he nevertheless sent a harsh message by way of a greeting, promising, among other things, to deploy short-range Iskander missile system in Kaliningrad region, on Russia's western border, in order “to effectively counter the persistent and consistent attempts of the current American administration to install new elements of a global missile defence system in Europe.”

Below is what some Russian bloggers wrote in response to the part of Medvedev's address that was meant as much for the international audiences as for the domestic ones.

LJ user viking-nord (RUS):

Now, tell me why did Medvedev have to wait for the outcome of the U.S. election to deliver his address to the Federal Assembly??? No steps whatsoever have been taken towards improvement of the relations with the United States.

I wanted to hear him say that he was starting a new page in the relationship with the new U.S. administration. Like, for example, we'll begin negotiations on the missile defense system in Eastern Europe. But nothing of this kind has been said. Quite the opposite, this is how it sounded – you deploy, we don't care, and as a response, we'll place Iskanders in Kaliningrad and leave a missile division deployed in Kozelsk. That is, we are launching an arms race at the time of an economic crisis!!! Not bad, right???

In general, I think even Obama could not expect anything like this… And he could have retreated with the missile defense system, as this is an expensive delight, and the Democrats, as a rule, are very practical.

A few comments to this post:

disaster_cake:

Don't be naive, nothing will change in the relationship between Russia and America in the nearest future. A change of regime on one side doesn't mean anything. Besides, the attitude towards Russia is perhaps the only point on which Obama agreed with McCain during the debates.

***

prikolruss:

They need an enemy. Hence the provocation and ruthlessness. They can't do without an enemy, can they??? :(((

***

viking_nord:

An image of an external enemy is needed to suppress domestic freedoms.

LJ user telemont (RUS):

[…] If there'd been no [address by Medvedev on Nov. 5], all the commentators would've been discussing the U.S. election, and domestic realities would have inevitably been compared to the American ones. By stepping out onto the podium and dropping a set of pre-made chips, Medvedev has shifted the focus of public attention from the issues that are dangerous to the regime.

Exactly the same approach was used at the time of the [Beslan tragedy]: when the public turned out to have many questions that were harsh and very unpleasant for the regime, Putin all of a sudden proposed to eliminate regional governor's elections. Honestly, [an irrelevant] initiative, but it worked great: everyone rushed off to argue, select and appoint right away, forgetting about the children who had died.

In another post, LJ user telemont noted (RUS) that trying to figure out the subtext of Medvedev's message is nothing but an exercise in futility:

[…] What's the point of looking for meaning in the addresses of people who don't assume responsibility even for their actions, let alone their words.

(A selection of links to English-language bloggers’ reactions to Medvedev's address is here.)

4 comments

  • carissa

    Boy, Obama election rigging is bad enough. Overseas bloggers posing as Americans helping to get Obama elected is worse. But even worse is Obama being an ally to a regime that wants to nuke America and actually standing aside and letting it happen. What the hell kind of President is this guy??!!??!!

  • putin up with this

    Personally i think the leadership is nervous in Russia that the people may want to pick its own leaders instead of Putin picking for them!

    Its a hint of jealousy
    at the American election they make fun of American
    elections in Russia and thought with mccain it would be proven that American ideals were gone but with barack
    they see a classy gentleman a considerate leader that gave America instant credibility. Now Medvedev increases the term limit for president from 4 to 6 did anybody else have a say in this? besides putin and a few others?
    Russia no need to be jealous or worried of america
    the usa is broke! russia is rich! with petro dollars
    Barack is not going to invade the kremlin next week relax.
    The usa agenda now will be repairing the damage brought by bush. Focus on the real world problems of climate change and disease @ prosperity for the masses. Barack would want to sit down with Russia and scale down the amount of nuclear weapons each country possess. The next question is will Russia continue to attack its neighbors even when the external threat has vanished with a peaceful united states!?

  • Dena

    After the Bush administration, the world thinks there was need to “rig” an election. No, that wasn’t necessary.

    Telemont: “If there’d been no [address by Medvedev on Nov. 5], all the commentators would’ve been discussing the U.S. election, and domestic realities would have inevitably been compared to the American ones.”

    Telemont: You are correct! It seems that the Kremlin prefers to announce or strike while the U.S. is engaged in other things. First the Olympics and now the Presidential Election. They seem to use our press as a their smoke screen.

    As far as deploying defense systems, that has been going on for decades. Russia and the U.S. aren’t going to nuke each other. That would mean the destruction of the other country, as well.

    putin up with this: “Now Medvedev increases the term limit for president from 4 to 6 did anybody else have a say in this? besides putin and a few others?
    Russia no need to be jealous or worried of america
    the usa is broke! russia is rich!”

    Russia is rich, but Russians are only as rich as Medvedev allows them to be. No you have no say in 4 to 6 years, or a lifetime. It is called a dictatorship. No?

    While America is moving forward, it seems the Russians are moving back. I feel sorry for the Russian people; I thought they had evolved.

  • Troy

    Russia is rich with oil? For sure. Can they use their wealth? I am doubting it.

    Recently, overall oil production in Russia has decreased.

    Oil and gas companies in Russia are taxed on the basis of $80 on oil market, when in reality actual price is significantly low.

    More than 60% of country’s budget is based on tax and other income, obtained from oil and gas sector. Therefore, crude oil market price sensitivity affects country’s overall economy, including strategic economic development plan till 2020 proposed by Russian government, which mainly is supposed to be financed from country’s oil income (and calculations are made considering much higher oil prices on market). In addition to all this, world GDP (gross domestic product) is expected to decline first time for several decades, leading to decreased oil production worldwide. OPEC already decreased oil production and thinks to follow that direction in near future.

    How Russian government used its easy money last 15 years? They increased country’s foreign currency and gold reserves (almost $600 bl) in addition to enlarging stabilizing fund. Nowadays, while global crisis just star to affect real economies in the world, Russia is loosing $15 b weekly (from above mentioned sources)to support its economy, financial institutions and inflation, which is higher than expected.

    What else Russian government did with this easy money? NOTHING ELSE. Country lives in 1990s reality. Maybe someone has some illusions (for ex: Moscow is the most expensive city in the world in 2008), but population there is around 15 m, while in Russia it is about 150 m. Russia is not only Moscow and Sankt Peterbourg, an it is biggest country in terms of geography. So … can someone list more than 2-3 cities in Russia n briefly describe what happens there? There happens NOTHING. In Siberia they even do not know who is their president. At the end, after 17 year, first time Russian president visited Russia’s far east part (Medvedev). They even do not know what happens there.

    It is endless topic with countless arguments. However, the main point is: how many out of 140 m people in Russia want to live in present conditions, current prospects for future and existing ideology?! Or people just want financial/social security, freedom of choice and long life instead of unpredictable temporary existence.

    But who cares, they play in war strategy from Kremlin.
    It is not about politics, ideology and culture. It is about power of INDIVIDUALS rather than population.

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