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The parliament controlled by Putin’s loyalists quickly reversed Medvedev’s law decriminalizing slander, giving law enforcement authorities a new weapon against dissent.

The presidential human rights council, which Medvedev filled with Kremlin critics, was quickly reshuffled to purge them, and a bill widely expanding the definition of high treason that Medvedev shelved in 2008 received a unanimous preliminary approval in parliament last week.

Medvedev’s directive to remove government officials from boards of giant state-controlled companies has been reversed. And Putin’s lieutenants, like energy czar Igor Sechin, successfully resisted a push for control over energy revenues by Medvedev loyalists. Medvedev himself has avoided meddling in those disputes and sought to demonstrate his loyalty to Putin.

Medvedev faced more trouble this month, when Putin gave a dressing down to several Cabinet ministers, saying that they had failed to fulfill his directives on drafting the next budget. It was an oblique criticism of Medvedev himself — as he leads the Cabinet and is in charge of the economy.

Alexei Makarkin, a leading analyst with the Center for Political Technologies, an independent Moscow-based think-tank, said that such criticism could be repeated and would help set the stage for Medvedev’s ouster in the future.

“He would be unlikely to remain the prime minister for the entire Putin’s term in office,” Makarkin said.


Lynn Berry contributed to this report.