Mr. Medvedev has hinted at the need for democratization and economic liberalization to bring Russia into the 21st century, while Mr. Putin – who says little on the subject – appears linked to forces who favor continuation of the authoritarian system of "managed democracy" and state-led economics that he built during his eight-year presidency that ended in 2008.
"The fight that's shaping up is between those who want to continue the old model in which Russia's economy is dominated by resource extraction, and those who want to move to a high-tech based information society," says Nikolai Petrov, an analyst with the Carnegie Center in Moscow. "A lot of political and economic interests are vested in the old model, but some groups are interested in real change – and they are pinning their hopes on Medvedev."
Kashin, an outspoken reporter and blogger, suffered serious head injuries, a broken leg, and a smashed hand after two men approached him near his home with an iron bar concealed in a bouquet of flowers. He remained in critical condition, in a coma, on Monday. A graphic CCTV video of the attack has become one of the most widely visited sites on Russia's still unfettered Internet.
Kommersant editor Mikhail Mikhailin told journalists Monday that the broken fingers send a clear message: "Apparently, those who did this do not like what he says and writes," he said.