Yesterday I said some nice things about Medvedev’s realism on Russia’s economic prospects. Unlike Putin, he has at time acknowledged the elephant in the room, for instance, stating that the Russian economy could contract by 8 percent in 2009, and that this could lead to serious budget problems. These statements jibed with what Kudrin has been saying. But today’s MT says that Medvedev launched a savage attack that all but called out Kudrin by name:
President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday warned ministers who give gloomy economic forecasts that they should look for new jobs, a move widely seen as a rebuke to Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin.
The remarks come as Russia goes through the painful process of drafting the budget for 2010 — in which Kudrin is playing a key role — after being forced to drastically cut spending in 2009 because of a fall in the price of oil.
“When my colleagues from the government say that Russia will not come out of the crisis for another 50 years, it is unacceptable. If you think so — go and work somewhere else,” Medvedev told a meeting with Russian businessmen.
Kudrin in April said Russia should not wait for “five, 10, 20 or 50 years” for the favorable economic conditions of recent years to return. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the comment showed that Kudrin was stressed out.
Another zig-zag? A response to criticism from Putin/the siloviki regarding Medvedev’s realistically gloomy assessments on the economy? That is, is Medvedev triangulating? Or is he being buffeted by infighting among the elite and trying to be all things to all factions? Who knows? (Though the “buffeted/all things to all factions option appears most likely to me.)