Yaroslavl: the best venue for a presidential announcement?

This ancient Russian city is set to host its third annual global political forum, which is causing a flurry of speculation among analysts that President Medvedev will use the venue to announce his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections.

Although the participants of the Yaroslavl Global Policy Forum will be focusing on the question of “the modern state in the age of social diversity,” political observers will also be anticipating some sort of announcement by Dmitry Medvedev concerning his plans for the 2012 presidential elections. The campaign has sparked a lot of media attention since it will ultimately come down to the question as to who will be the next Russian president in 2012.

Thus far, President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have been in no rush to reveal their future political plans. Indeed, both men were photographed earlier this month enjoying a fishing trip together along the banks of the Volga River. This mutual compatibility underscores a point the president and prime minister have stressed at every opportunity: there is no competition between them for the highest position in the country, and they will make the final decision together.

Meanwhile, both politicians are effective leaders in their own right and enjoy high popularity ratings among the Russian electorate. Putin, should he run, will enter the race with his legacy of delivering political stability back to the country, as well as refreshing Russia’s international reputation, stained as it was by the brutal post-communist years. Meanwhile, Medvedev has dedicated his presidency to eradicating corruption and “legal nihilism,” as well as implementing widespread economic reforms, which are already beginning to leave their mark.

In many ways, the successes of both men overlap each other across the political and economic landscape, which makes both politically attractive to voters.

So can the world expect a long-awaited announcement by Medvedev at Yaroslavl?

In May, the Russian president told a large press conference inside of the Kremlin that such an event was not the appropriate place to make such announcement.

“You have to realize that political life is not just a show,” he told a gathering of domestic and foreign reporters. “No matter how appealing and tempting, a press conference of this kind is not the right occasion for such an announcement.”

So now political observers are once again anticipating big news from Medvedev.

According to Igor Jurgens, a political strategist for the Russian president, the global gathering in Yaroslavl will be significant considering that a “number of very high-level experts have been invited, including former prime ministers, foreign ministers and Nobel Prize winners.”

Yet he did not go so far as to predict a major announcement by Medvedev.

“Considering that very important heads of states, including Turkish President Abdullah Guhl, have accepted their invitations (to Yaroslavl), we can say that the forum will see Dmitry Medvedev make some important conclusions,” Jurgens told Nezavisimaya Gazeta in an interview. “We know Medvedev’s general stance on domestic issues and on democracy-related questions, you can see it in the statements he made at the St. Petersburg forum.”

According to Igor Shatrov, a political analyst, Medvedev will use the international forum to announce his future political plans.

“The Global Policy Forum in Yaroslavl was conceived by the president’s ‘support group’ as a forum for the ‘political wing’ of the president’s electorate and a showcase of an up-and-coming Russia for the western observer,” Shatrov noted. “That is why I think September 7-8, 2011…could prove to be the right time, the right place and the right format for Medvedev to make some sort of an announcement.”

The Yaroslavl forum is organized by the Institute for Public Planning, the Institute of Contemporary Development and Yaroslavl’s DemidovStateUniversity. The executive in charge of managing the event is Vladislav Inozemtsev, director of the Center for Post-Industrial Studies.

Entitled “The Modern State in the Age of Social Diversity,” this year’s forum will host a diversity of global political leaders, including Turkish President Abdullah Gul and former Latvian President Valdis Zatlers.

To visit the Yaroslavl Global Policy Forum website, click here.

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