Russia's Money Troubles Divide Putin, Medvedev

Men tied to opposing economic factions
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 3, 2009 12:28 PM CST
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, right, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seen at a meeting on the European gas crisis in Moscow, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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(Newser) – The financial crisis in Russia is driving a wedge between Vladimir Putin and his protegé, the president he handed off his office to, the Guardian reports. Dmitry Medvedev has sided with liberal economists in the crisis, while Putin is torn between his personal ties to the economists and his long association with their rivals, security officials known as the siloviki. The struggle is chipping away at Putin’s power while Medvedev gains confidence, experts say.

“Putin used to act as an arbiter standing above the two main clans—the siloviki and the rational economists," says a political analyst. "Now he's been dragged down into the fight and he's under fire from both sides.” Medvedev, meanwhile, has quietly criticized Putin. “Medvedev has got the whiff of power in his nose and he likes it,” notes another analyst.