By Israel Shamir – April 13, 2011
Medvedev vs. Putin
The Arab Rebellion has polarized Russia: some dream that the Spirit of Tahrir will visit Moscow, even as others hope for a NATO crusade to spread Western values all the way to the Volga; yet a third lot prays fervently that nothing will change, now or ever. The recent Russian abstention in the UN Security Council has split the elites and made the growing rift visible at last.
President Dmitri Medvedev has declared Kaddafi persona non grata. He supported the proposal to transfer Libya’s case to the ICC; he then ordered his Ambassador in the Security Council to abstain. A few days later, ex-strongman Prime Minister Vladimir Putin roundly criticised Medvedev’s compliance; he called the Western intervention “a new crusade”, and suggested that the Western leaders should “pray for their souls and ask the Lord’s forgiveness” for the bloodshed. Medvedev shot back with a meaningless “don’t you dare to speak of crusades” comment, and the pundits made a lot of mileage from this exchange, eager to see first light between the twain. Before this the President and the PM had behaved like Siamese twins. Now it seems they begin to pull apart.