This won’t come as a surprise to some, but Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin might just find himself assuming the familiar presidential position in less than two years, if his recent reinvention as media-friendly superhero swooping in to help his people in fiery disaster areas is any indication. Meanwhile, President Dmitry Medvedev is obliged to play the lesser role of desk-bound bureaucrat in Moscow. –KA

The Sydney Morning Herald:

While Mr Medvedev appears mostly confined to his Kremlin office, Mr Putin is rushing around the country with the media in tow. He comforts fire victims, upbraids officials – and publicly dictates to the President what should be done about the fires that have killed 40 people and ravaged almost half a million hectares.

Mr Putin held an urgent meeting on Monday with regional governors in Moscow, and reprimanded them for not being ready for the fires.

Last Friday, he flew to the Nizhny Novgorod region, where he visited a village that had been reduced to ashes. There, Mr Putin moved from one blackened ruin to another shaking his head. He ended up surrounded by a big group of grieving residents.

”Before winter, all the houses will be standing,” Mr Putin said, raising his voice to be heard by the entire crowd – and by cameras of all the main television networks who broadcast the meeting across Russia.

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