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In this Feb. 16, 2014 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev watch the men's 4x10 km cross-country relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
In this Feb. 16, 2014 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev watch the men's 4x10 km cross-country relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
(Mikhail Klimentyev/AP)

Mark MacKinnon

Why Medvedev’s days as PM are numbered

They were supposed to rule as a tandem, the two-headed eagle of Russian politics. Vladimir Putin, the strongman, balanced in his actions by the relatively liberal-minded Dmitry Medvedev.

It was a farce from the start, of course, a way for Mr. Putin to retain power beyond 2008, when he was constitutionally barred from running for a third term as President. But the presence of Mr. Medvedev in the Kremlin between 2008 and 2012, and in the prime minister’s post since then, nonetheless gave hope to Russian democrats and Western diplomats who were looking for a signal that the country wasn’t headed all the way back to the bad old days of authoritarian rule.