Vorstand reshuffle. Putin was inaugurated on Monday and, as promised, immediately nominated Medvedev as PM. He was confirmedby the Duma the next day (Communists and Just Russia voting against). I was intrigued by their first reported actions: Putin ordered the creation of a business ombudsman to defend “the rights of entrepreneurs” showing that improvement of Russia’s business climate is a high priority. Medvedev called for a new system of state defence orders. This last has been notoriously opaque; many complain the money is not wisely spent and Russian-made weapons are over priced and not modern. Note that each of these touches on corruption: there are those who think that Putin returned to the Presidency because only he has the political muscle to attack this pervasive problem. Perhaps so, we will see. I still think that we need to see someone in an office close to the two led away in handcuffs for an anti-corruption drive to really bite.
Foreign policy. Putin quickly issued a host of decrees, one on foreign policy. The first priority is “to assist in creating favourable external conditions for the Russian Federation’s long-term development, modernisation of its economy, and strengthening its positions as an equal partner on global markets.” The second is “to seek to assert the rule of law in international relations, to advocate the leading role of the UN in global affairs and the fundamental principles of the UN Charter that require the development of friendly relations between nations on the basis of equality, respect for each others’ sovereignty and territorial integrity…” This is a country that wants a quiet life so it can develop its economy.