All his talk about domestic reforms and a new European face for Russia proved to be hot air apart from privatisation, which merely handed yet more productive forces into the hands of the elite. His boyish face concealed a schoolboy naivete. The defining moment during Medvedev's presidency was the Georgian invasion of Ossetia, and it was Putin's steel fist that showed through as he took control of the situation.
Russians have continued to pack their bags for better pastures during the Medvedev years. Along came the Arab Spring and United Russia suddenly was exposed as a hollow shell, a party of "thieves and swindlers". Putin risked losing his legacy, as the surge of pride and resolve to build a new Russia was frittered away by the Westernisers, and eclipsed by the dynamism of BRIC colleagues and now the Arabs.
But is a revival of the glory days of Putin's presidency possible? The prospects for a new Putin presidency are being met with unease in Russian society. Protests on dozens of burning issues, from ecology to traffic, education to health, not to mention corruption, continue, as do terrorist bombings and assassinations.
That Medvedev is a poor prospect even for PM was confirmed when Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said he would not work in a Cabinet led by Medvedev and was promptly fired by the president in a fit of peak. It is unlikely that Medvedev will last long in the grinding and thankless job of PM come March 2012.