Moscow in May: Why So Serious?

Maybe the partying came later, I don't know. But the stage looked pretty dreary in this photo as Dmitri A. Medvedev spoke after being sworn in as Russia's new president. At left, of course, is Vladimir V. Putin, the former president, who has already been named prime minister by Medvedev. The two pale power brokers don't look like this arrangement is going to be much fun for either of them. The space between them is odd, at least to my eyes, suggesting some emotional if not political distance.

Maybe the partying came later, I don't know. But the stage looked pretty dreary in this photo as Dmitri A. Medvedev spoke after being sworn in as Russia's new president. At left, of course, is Vladimir V. Putin, the former president, who has already been named prime minister by Medvedev. The two pale power brokers don't look like this arrangement is going to be much fun for either of them. The space between them is odd, at least to my eyes, suggesting some emotional if not political distance. (On the other hand, if Putin had been standing right next to Medvedev, it might have looked as if he were working a puppet.) As it is, both men seem to be striking identical rigid stances, which might be reassuring to Russians who prefer a strong and closely controlled state. Still, Putin's the man here--the darker coat and hands clenched for a fight. (Maybe it was just cold there.) Meanwhile, Medvedev has those furry microphone breasts. The press pool image, which ran on the front page of today's New York Times, was taken by Dmitri Astakhov. I suppose this is what they call red carpet photography in Russia.