How to explain the bad words of Dmitri Medvedev, the former diplomatic president of Russia?

Sometimes it wasn’t Vladimir Putin who said the harshest words in Moscow. Senior officials close to the Kremlin did it for him. Recently, Dmitry Medvedev, current vice-president of the powerful Russian Security Council, has released several diatribes of extraordinary violence. However, we remember a former president and then prime minister a little differently, especially with regard to the United States and the West in general.

But since the start of the war in Ukraine, he has recovered from the local political scene. A message questioning the sovereignty of the former Soviet republics, saying in particular that “all the people who once lived in the great and mighty USSR will live again in friendship”, appeared on Tuesday in the official its page on the VKontakte (VK) network, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. The top executive deleted the post confirming it was hacked. Two months ago, on June 7, Dmitry Medvedev wrote in the Telegram messenger: I hate them. They are rude and degenerate. They want death for us, for Russia. And as long as I live, I will do everything to get rid of them”, without specifying who the precise target was.

Behavioral change or real behavior?

A change in behavior, at least in appearance, that can be explained, according to Carole Grimaud, professor of Russian geopolitics at the University of Montpellier, contacted by 20 minutes, through the current context: “If he was more nuanced during his presidency and even when he was Prime Minister, it is because he no longer has many options”. “Today, with the context of the conflict, some personalities who simply declare that they prefer peace to war, or who make nuanced statements are dismissed”, continued one who also founded the think-tank Center for Russia and Eastern Europe Research (CREER) from Geneva.

But is Dmitry Medvedev a nuanced leader? Not for Cyrille Bret, researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute, according to whom the vice-president of the Security Council has always been a figure of the reactionary strict orthodox current. “This speech is only a surprise for those who rely only on press releases” when he was the head of the Kremlin, he explained to 20 minutes. According to the researcher, Dmitry Medvedev has this image of openness and innovation only from an economic point of view, to attract foreign investors, which is “in line with the strategic orientation of Russia at the time”.

A step towards the Kremlin?

However, this context of the war in Ukraine facilitates, according to the researcher, the desire to show his convictions on the national and international scenes. And because of the turn of events, which is that Russia has “turned its back”, according to Carole Grimaud, to Europe and the West, “there is not much to lose” by showing itself under this day. He might even win. Because this way of adopting the very open speech of Vladimir Putin on the greatness of Russia and his nostalgia for the borders of the USSR, is a way “to prove his loyalty to the Russian president and to signal his presence to participate in the war effort in the media domain”, analyzed Cyrille Bret.

As far as finding a position on the political scene? Why not, answered the researcher, especially since Dmitri Medvedev is one of the rare politicians known internationally, along with the media-savvy Sergei Lavrov [l’actuel ministre des Affaires étrangères]. His “highly placed position, moreover, puts him in a very good position to reach the Kremlin”, if Vladimir Putin decides to reorganize his close guard, or even choose of an heir, added Carole Grimaud.

sow discord

Hacked not hacked? As for the latest post about the “great and mighty USSR,” even if Dmitry Medvedev actually wrote the words, the truth will probably never come out. And this speech in any case is not a surprise. “He is neither the first nor the last to make this kind of commentary praising the history of Russia and the expansion of its borders”, recalls Carole Grimaud, referring in particular to the Russian tendencies expressed recently about Alaska or the Lithuanian border.

These words, moreover, have consequences, especially in Georgia, where the opposition calls on the government to better position itself against Moscow. “These words arouse division in the country and sow discord,” said the specialist. If they seem to threaten the countries bordering Russia, these words sing, on the contrary, in the ears of a part of the Russian population. The opportunity, therefore, for Dmitri Medvedev to mark his position internationally and regain a place in the political field.

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