Magazine September 7, 2009, Issue

Bear Right

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (Right) speaks to the head of the United Russia political party Boris Gryzlov near Sochi, Russia, August 20, 2009. (Vladimir Rodionov/Kremlin via Reuters)
The specter of a Greater Russia?

Clad in a black jacket over an open-necked black shirt, speaking directly into the camera against the backdrop of a summer coastline, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev looked every inch the Moscow mafioso out on a hot date. This was not an inappropriate “look” given that his script — a video open letter to the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yushchenko — was a series of velvet menaces. Officially he was justifying Russia’s decision not to send its ambassador to Kiev; between the lines he urged Ukrainians to vote against Yushchenko in next year’s January election; under the smoothness he seemed to be …

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