Saturday, October 1, 2016

Medvedev Backs Radical Reform of Structure of Russian State

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 1 – In another indication that Russia may be on the brink of radical reform of its state structures and of how such a development may open a Pandora’s box of problems for the Kremlin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says that it is “necessary to replace the entire system of government administration” for another.

            Yesterday, Moscow’s “Kommersant” newspaper reported that Medvedev had said that “he could not but agree” with Aleksey Kudrin that “it is important not only to achieve all [social] but also “it is necessary to replace the entire system of state administration” with something new (

            The prime minister did not specify exactly what he personally had in mind; but Kudrin, the former finance minister and current head of the Moscow Center for Strategic Planning, earlier this week remarked that “the governors of Russian regions must be given more freedom in decision making (

            Since the Duma vote, there have been many articles suggesting Vladimir Putin plans to reform state structures in radical ways. For a discussion of some of these ideas, see But most of these articles have acted as if Putin now has a free hand to act as he wants.

            Medvedev’s intervention, to the extent that it is more than his typical penchant for saying more than he intends, points to something else: the possibility that others, be they governors or heads of republics, will decide that they should be participants in this process, something that could trigger conflicts that the Kremlin leader would then have to respond to.

            At the very least, this opens the possibility that many Russians will begin to reflect on Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation, frequently cited during Gorbachev’s time, that “the worst time for a bad government is when it decides to begin reforming itself” because such a move can open the way for more groups to get involved than the authors of such reforms plan on.

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