Speaking at a public event organised by the EU-Russia Centre, attended by high-level European Commission officials and several MEPs, Yurgens - who is also president of the Institute for Contemporary Development in Moscow - chose the topic of modernisation in Russia, a flagship initiative of President Medvedev, to deliver several messages on behalf of the Russian president.
In fact, Yurgens took good care to speak positively about Vladimir Putin, the country's prime minister, perceived abroad as Russia's authoritarian strong man and compared to whom Medvedev is seen as more open to Western-type democracy.
Yurgens said that on the eve of parliamentary elections to be held in December and presidential elections next year, bets were ongoing both on Putin coming back as president or Medvedev carrying on for a second mandate.
"No matter who wins, Putin with his Stability Party or Medvedev with his Progress Party, the agenda of change and modernisation will be taken by any president," he said.
Yurgens said that if Putin were to make a comeback, he would also commit to an agenda of modernisation, "simply because there is no other way of safeguarding Russia's place in the G8 and even in the G20".
"We will modernise: the question is the tempo, the speed, the depth, the resistance of the interest groups, the level of the popular suppor," he said.
'Breeze of change'
Yurgens implied that even under Putin's patronage, Medvedev had made his mark.
"I would say some timid and cautious steps have been made by the president. He promised and delivered some changes to the legal structure. He reinforced his message on regional self-government and the change in the budget codes, which would promote financial independence of cities and dwellings," the professor said.
"Now he lowered again the ceiling for the parties to become parliamentary parties. He supports the idea of the creation of the Liberal Party by one of our tycoons [the Right Cause party of multibillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov] which was announced a week ago. And so and so forth," he added.
Obviously alluding to the 'winds of change' of the Gorbachev era, Yurgens spoke of "a breeze of change" blowing from the Kremlin these days.
"We feel the breeze, the light wind, not the storm, not the tornado yet, not even a strong wind, we feel a slight but pleasant wind and breeze of political change and freedom. For some it's more than enough, for most – I mean most 'thinking' – it's not enough at all, it will not produce new wind energy or solar energy for our political life," Yurgens said.
But significantly, the top Medvedev advisor said that it would be "much better" if Parnas, an opposition party established last December that the Russian authorities have denied registration, were given the chance to run in the poll. He named several Parnas leaders - Mikhail Kasyanov, Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov - and called them "friends".
"It would be much better if Parnas is registered and receives at least a couple of seats in parliament. It becomes a much more lively and constructive situation," he said, confirming that he was not speaking in a private capacity but in agreement with the president.
Torshin bill 'total nonsense'
Yurgens described as "total nonsense" a bill to be debated in the Russian Parliament aimed at giving Russian law precedence over the European Convention on Human Rights.The bill is named after Alexander Torshin - a member of the ruling United Russia party and acting speaker of the upper house of parliament - who drafted the bill.
Yurgens said Torshin used to be a sensible person, adding wittily that he may have been overwhelmed by his ambition to become parliamentary speaker. "We shouldn't adopt that package," he warned.
The Medvedev aide said that his boss had also shown his style in dealing with high-profile court trials, such as those investigating the mysterious death in prison of Russian attorney Sergei Magnitsky and the imprisonment of former oligarch Mikahil Khodorkovsky (see 'Background').
"If not for Medvedev, nobody in the Magnistky case would be in jail: they are. We are fighting around the Khodorkovsky case," he said.
However, Khodorkovsky has been sentenced to prison until 2017. Russia analysts had argued that an acquittal would show that Medvedev had prevailed, while a conviction would confirm that Putin remains Russia's real power. Reportedly, Medvedev is trying to obtain Khodorkovky's pardon.
Asked whether by EurActiv if he had spoken in a private capacity or on behalf of Medvedev, he said:
"He [Medvedev] is very much behind it. Believe me that he has his own restrictions and limitations. Believe me he works in an environment which is not very favourable to liberalism, democracy and stuff like that. Our new generations wants more than what we are saying, and he is reflecting that will, at the tempo which is I think compatible and adequate to the situation. He can be an iconoclast like Yeltsin, and then we will have all the consequences of this. Or he can be like Gorbachev in his prime, or Deng Xiao Ping. It's in the making, we will let you know."