Stark divisions within Russia's elite were exposed Monday when a hot mic mishap showed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev slamming security forces as "jerks" for launching an early morning raid against a filmmaker.
Medvedev on Friday gave an extensive end-of-year interview to five Russian channels. But attention has focused less on the interview itself than on a six-minute video of Medvedev's supposedly off-the-record conversation with the journalists that followed the interview itself and has now emerged on the Internet.
Medvedev slammed Friday's pre-dawn raid by investigators on filmmaker Pavel Kostomarov who has been working on an Internet documentary about the Russian opposition called "Srok" (Term).
"Everything is going to be fine, do not worry," Medvedev tells one of the interviewers, NTV television newscaster Alexei Pivovarov who is one of the co-producers of the documentary.
"They (the investigators) are jerks for showing up at eight in the morning," he said.
"It's basically just habit. I have many people who work in the security forces and they think that if they come at 7 am they will get everything."
The spokesman of the Investigative Committee that carried out the raid then hit back, defending it as completely legal and condemning Medvedev's comments.
"It's very strange to hear comments that do not just insult Russian investigators but also undermine all the security forces of the country," said spokesman Vladimir Markin.