Russia: 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:


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.



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



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.)

* This post also appears in Global Voices Online.

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