London, Dec.2 (ANI): American diplomats consider Vladimir Putin to be the real ruler of Russia and not President Dmitry Medvedev, according to diplomatic cables leaked by the whistle blowing web site WikiLeaks.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin still pulls the strings in Russia, with President Dmitry Medvedev a more junior figure who "plays Robin to Putin's Batman", US diplomats have said in frank dispatches from Moscow.
Secret diplomatic cables seen by the Guardian reveal the US emphatically believes Putin to be in charge. They also suggest Putin will decide whether Medvedev serves a second term, whether he will return to the presidency himself or give the job to someone else.
In a dispatch sent in February 2010, the US ambassador in Moscow, John Beyrle, dubbed the pairing "Russia's bicephalous ruling format".
He made clear that he saw Putin as the more important of the two heads.
"Medvedev and Putin work well together, but Putin holds most, and the best, of the cards in the tandem relationship. His return to the Kremlin is not inevitable, but should things remain stable, Putin remains in a position to choose himself, Medvedev, or another person as Russia's next president," Beyrle's cable says.
In a separate cable the Azeri president, Ilham Aliyev, is recorded as telling a top US official that he personally witnessed Medvedev taking decisions that then required further approval. Some were stymied at that stage, presumably in the prime minister's office.
Aliyev said: "Many high-ranking officials don't recognize [Medvedev] as a leader ... There are signs of a strong confrontation between the teams of the two men, although not yet between Putin and Medvedev personally.'"
Aliyev continued: "We have a saying in Azeri: two heads cannot be boiled in one pot."
The writer of the cable explained that this was "crude street slang suggesting that two leaders are spoiling for a fight".
Putin and Medvedev have left pundits guessing as to their intentions before an election in the spring of 2012.
Both have indicated they may stand again as president. Putin stepped down after two four-year terms, in accordance with Russia's constitution.
This has now been changed, giving the next president a six-year stint. (ANI)