As you probably have heard, Russia is going through a pretty turbulent time. There was a hell of a time trying to contest the presidential election. It got very little coverage because no opposition was really allowed.
The two gentlemen you see pictured at the top are Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. Putin, the outgoing president of Russia, was constitutionally prohibited from seeking another term. So instead, he concocted a different way of staying in power. He crushed political opposition, jailing those who supported them financially and making it tough to get their message out.
So he hand-picked his successor. Medvedev is not a great leader. He’s not charasmatic, he’s not even necessarily the popular choice. But he does have his uses. Immediately after ‘winning’ the election, he nominated his sugar daddy (Putin) to be the Prime Minister. Russian parliament just approved this nomination and so now he is still pretty much in power.
The biggest worry is that Medvedev is simply a puppet figure and not really in charge. Even worse, after one term, Putin is free to seek the presidency again! Putin seems desperate to raise Russia’s profile on the world stage. He’s taken a firm line against what he sees as a Western threat. NATO is starting to creep closer, with some of the neighbouring countries in talks to join the alliance. Russia’s doing their best to stop this, even using its massive gas and oil supplies to strong-arm these countries.
Economic pressure has become the new nuclear arsenal in what is looking more and more like a cold-war attitude. Instead of the threat of nuclear destruction, it’s now a threat of cutting off some of the main pipelines delivering oil and gas to Europe.
So basically, Putin will be in power for many, many years to come. This may not be that terrible, considering Russians still seem to love him. But the danger is that will destabilize the region and be a obstacle in progress in general.