Audio Transcript:

LISA MULLINS: And speaking of Russia, a fight has broken out in the country's capital between the federal government and the mayor of Moscow. The speaker of the Parliament's Upper House says there are quote, more than enough grounds to fire Yuri Luzhkov. Luzhkov says that he's not going without a fight. The mayor is a powerful figure in Russia, and relations between him and the Kremlin have long been frosty. This current fight is seen as a test of President Dmitry Medvedev's power to keep local officials in line. There's little doubt that Medvedev is on the wrong end of another power struggle, the one with his supposed number two, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Reporter Jessica Golloher now looks at how Mr. Medvedev is viewed by his constituents.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Russian's Far East is host to a number of natural wonders. Among them are several species of whales, many of which are facing extinction.

JESSICA GOLLOHER: On the Kamchatka peninsula this summer, just another manly accomplishment for Russia's busy Prime Minister.

FEMALE SPEAKER: High waves and wet weather didn't stop Russia's Prime Minister from joining biologists in their pursuit to find the rare mammals.

GOLLOHER: In addition to shooting darts at endangered grey whales, Putin also drove 1,200 miles across Siberia in a yellow Lada. He narrowly escaped tangling with a wild bear. And he was filmed dousing fires from a bomber during the country's worst heatwave on record. Meanwhile this summer, Medvedev shook hands with rock star Bono. Every girl's dream, perhaps, but not especially manly. So let's just put it out there. Putin, tough guy. Medvedev, not so tough.

ROSA SAKALOVA: I think he acts as a housewife.

GOLLOHER: 30-something hotel manager Rosa Sakalova.

SAKALOVE: Someone who can greet guests, but not the one who will push or be tough. I don't know. I think he is a kind of, not the one who makes decisions.

GOLLOHER: So Medvedev is kind of like the woman behind the man. She does all the dirty work, he gets all the glory. Sound familiar?

FEMALE SPEAKER: Don, do something. No responsibility for anything [INDISCERNIBLE]. I'm here all day, alone with them, outnumbered and then you come home and get to be the hero.

MASCHA LIPMAN: How can you not be jealous?

GOLLOHER: Mascha Lipman is a political analyst with the Carnegie Center, a think tank based here in Moscow. She says the comparison to 1960s American a la Madmen is apt.

LIPMAN: Putin has full command of the audience, full command of the camera, and he's good at it. And people perceive him the way the message is conveyed. I'm a strong man and I'm the master.

GOLLOHER: Little question that's how Russian view things. One recent headline read, Can Medvedev Fire Putin? That came after the firefighting stunt. Others called Putin Medvedev's puppetmaster. One even laid down the ultimate insult, calling Medvedev a soft spoken smart-kid lawyer. So even if Mr. Medvedev is living in Putin's shadow stuck at the Kremlin, running the mundane day-to-day operations of the country, so what? That isn't really so bad says Andrei Kortunov with the New Eurasia Foundation.

ANDREI KORTUNOV: It really depends on your definition of fun. For example, Medvedev likes gadgets, an iPhone. So maybe he enjoys life in a different way. It's difficult for me to imagine that Medvedev hunting a tiger.

GOLLOHER: And anyway, hunting animals doesn't appear to be in Medvedev's repertoire. He likes yoga. The president recently announced that he could even stand on his own head. In contrast, Putin has a black belt in judo. He's even made an instructional video with the former judo world champion from Japan. All Putin's recent posturing has led many to believe Putin is gearing up for another term as president. As for Medvedev, no official word yet on whether he's up for the challenge. For The World, I'm Jessica Golloher in Moscow.