Given that Kudrin has resigned, it appears that Putin has not interceded on Kudrin’s behalf; Kudrin ran to daddy, and daddy did not intervene on his behalf. Perhaps not surprising, given that one interpretation of Kudrin’s outburst is that it was directed not at its ostensible target–Medvedev–but at Putin instead. But who knows for sure? Perhaps Putin told Kudrin to keep his powder dry, and at some decent interval after the election, Medvedev will have served his purpose and be kicked to the curb. But I cannot get beyond the fact that everything Kudrin said about Medvedev’s profligacy (especially with respect to defense) really applies to Putin. This cannot have escaped Putin.
Playing that out, the implication is that Putin has decided that short run political goals are of overriding importance, and that medium-to-long run economic consequences are of lesser concern. Pushing that line of reasoning still further, that is hardly a signal of confidence and political strength. It would mean that Putin is convinced that he needs a splashy, decisive political victory in December (the Duma elections) and May (the Presidential election), and that he needs to politic and bribe to get it. If he were truly a Russian Colossus, standing astride what used to be 11 time zones, why would he think this way?
No, the Kudrin affair suggests deep fissures within the Russian elite, and deep insecurity at the very top. Very deep.