After a long rest, alternating between publicity stunts and foreign trips representing Gazprom, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has suddenly woken up with the announcement about his renewed presidential ambitions and several substantial policy statements.
Putin’s speech to the United Russia convention on Sept. 24 was downright populist. His discussion at a VTB Capital conference on Oct. 6 offered an uncommonly serious policy line. A Russian television interview on Oct. 17 rested somewhere in between. In discerning solid policy from propaganda, a rather clear policy emerges.
Putin has evolved the most on the World Trade Organization. He pursued Russia’s accession vigorously from 2000 to 2003, but during Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency he has impeded Russia’s entry. Now, he has sorted out this struggle with himself. He answers the question about whether WTO accession is good or bad for Russia. “I will say it’s 50-50, but overall there are probably more pluses than minuses for Russia,” he said at the VTB conference. “We are not abandoning this goal, and we are ready to join the WTO in full, but we will do so only if they don’t set unacceptable terms for Russia.”