More of the Same
We're the first ones to admit that we're not perfect, so maybe we missed it.
In our own defense it would have been pretty easy to miss, perhaps, since many people couldn't even name Vladimir Putin's predecessor as prime minister of Russia.
Did that man -- Victor Zubkov -- who assumed office on September 14, 2007, ever pay a state visit to France?
How about his predecessor, Mikhail Fradkov, who ruled between March 2004 and the time Zubkov took the reins?
Were either of them ever photographed arriving in Paris and shaking the hand of the French president, as "Prime Minister" Putin is shown in the photograph above taken last week? The Moscow Times reports that "Putin then headed for a working dinner with President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace late Thursday evening, a rare honor from the French head of state for visiting head of government." Has any other Russian prime minister ever been treated in a remotely similar manner?
Because, as far as we can recall, no such thing ever happened. As far as we know, when Vladimir Putin was "president" of Russia it was he who made such trips and shook such hands. And now that he's "prime minister" -- he's still doing it. And in particular, French presidents do not normally receive visiting prime ministers from other countries. It's particularly odd in this instance, since Medvedev is scheduled to negotiate a major agreement with the EU in the coming weeks with Sarkozy as a key player, and yet it is Putin and not Medvedev who carries out this meeting.
One could not ask for a more emphatic statement that Putin has not relinquished the reins of power than this photograph. In no way is Putin a "prime minister" remotely like those who have come before. He cannot be dismissed by Medvedev, and he is not acting like a "prime minister" but rather like the head of state, and he is being treated as such by other countries. As the International Herald Tribune reported: "In general, Putin spoke for Russia as if he still ran it - which most analysts believe he still does."
Meanwhile, state propaganda organ Russia Today is bragging that Putin has just acquired "final say on foreign bids to buy Russian companies in 42 ‘strategic’ sectors including oil, gas, media and telecoms" by means of a new law passed specifically to formally expand his ministerial powers. And that's just a few weeks after he took office! What will be left of the presidency by the time Medvedev completes "his" first term? Nothing at all.
The malignant little troll is urinating on the institution of democracy and laughing as he does so, secure in the knowledge that the world will allow him to act with impunity just as it did Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, waiting to respond only once the crisis stage has been reached.