Tag Archives: Кремль

The struggle for influence and the puppets of Surkov’s strategy games

Varianta extinsă în limba română poate fi citită aici.

– No, yesterday wasn’t November, 15 November… was 15 September 🙂

As I intuited two months ago (here) the Russian parliamentary elections (December 4 2011) and presidential election (next year) are certainly the place where the struggle for influence will become increasingly fierce. In main, the territorial influence. A battle fought, in general, within the walls of the Kremlin, away from the inquiring eyes of the press. Of course, its things are known, even though few speak openly about them. This seems to be also the stake about the recent scandal in the party Right Cause, party until yesterday managed of the businessman and the new initiated in politics, Mikhail Prokhorov.

Mikhail Prokhorov (left) and Vladislav Surkov (right) (RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klimentyev)

A huge media noise, which erupted yesterday following the split of Right Cause party and the uncomfortable declarations of party  leader Mikhail Prokhorov against to the «gray eminence» of Kremlin – Vladislav Surkov, was backed by a ″deafening silence″ of the Kremlin. Tandem Putin – Medvedev quietly followed daily agenda. All that I could hear was a huge drain of opinions pro and anti-Prokhorov. According to political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky, “the Russian president was disappointed by Mikhail Prokhorov in so that he had instructed Vladislav Surkov to liquidate him”. In change, Gleb Pavlovsky (himself into a smoldering conflict with Surkov after his expulsion from the Kremlin 🙂 ) consider that: ”This conflict is beneficial to almost everyone except Surkov. The presidential administration has suffered reputational costs as well as made a number of tactical errors”. Is Prokhorov, his former party or his protégé Evgeny Roizman the background, essential problem ? I think not. The situation was in fact predictable. I will try to explain why.

Let’s take a closer look on the subject. So, according AP: “Russian tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov abandoned his efforts Thursday to build up a political party and enter in Russian parliament. Prokhorov said that he was unwilling to tolerate interference from the Kremlin”. What about speaking ? We speaking about a party which was from the begin considered a project of the Kremlin, had been expected to draw on the support of opposition-minded and pro-business voters ahead of the Dec. 4 elections for the State Duma, Russia’s national parliament. In the “managed democracy” system nurtured under Vladimir Putin‘s rule as president and now prime minister, most parties represented in parliament have taken their cues from the Kremlin. More, despite the repeated assurances by Prokhorov and his team that they are not tributary to the Kremlin, the public perception about the party did not suffer major changes. In this context, the allegations  against deputy chief of presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov should not surprise anyone. “We have a Master puppeteer in the country, who long ago has privatised the political system and who for a long time has misinformed the leadership of the country about what is happening in politics, who leans on the media, and who tries to manipulate public opinion” said Mr. Prokhorov. (As irony of Fate, when Prokhorov released his bellicose statements, the number of journalists around him was higher than his supporters 😀 ). But it is nothing new ! I can to remember Mr. Prokhorov that in a special coverage dedicated to the Kremlin Wars, the experts from Stratfor Global Intelligence considered the appointment – as chief of the Federal district for the North Caucasus  – of his close friend Alexander Khloponin a Surkov’s victory in the struggle for influence with Igor Sechin. Or that according an analysis published by Central Asia – Caucasus Analyst and signed by Kevin Daniel Leahy,  Suleiman Kerimov’s influence as a lobbyist to the Kremlin – strictly in relation to Dagestan’s political affairs – appears to surpass the influence of Vladislav Surkov. And others numerous examples can be… In such conditions, Prokhorov’s approach at most can be considered a shift between centers/clans of interests which orbit around the power from Kremlin. Indeed, a little more transparent and honest. It is difficult to estimate how “Welcome to real honest politics” (as he said) means his gesture. It is known, as I said, the symbiotic relationship between regional authorities and influential persons which to ensure their lobby to the government and presidential level. The counterfeiting lists of delegates to Congress means that someone wanted to secure his power of influence in these regions. I don’t know if Prokhorov’s rebellion came just an inner desire of justice or is an attempt to protect itself interests and also the interests of influential persons on whose support he was based. But I also said that the situation was predictable. The rigid «vertical of power» built by Surkov has reached full capacity and began to crumble silent since the birth tandem Putin – Medvedev. The attempts (mostly – unsuccessful) of the current president Medvedev to make the necessary changes did not give spectacular results, but have created waves of instability to the pillars of the system. So it was predictable a next step in the dissolution system.

I don’t know if Prokhorov’s projects on his political future will take shape. I do not even think that his gesture could be assessed, at this point, in the subconscious of the masses. But, I know that Surkov will survive this attack. VYS’s genius is not the amazing strategies, it is precisely in its ability to survive all the palace’s intrigues and the ability to speculation the weaknesses of others. And Humanity is not without weaknesses. But, Humanity mean also surprising changes of consciousness, which even the intuition of «eminences gray» cannot guess. Perhaps that is why humanity is so beautiful in its diversity !

PS: Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov wrote on his blog that he had warned Prokhorov that “Putin and Medvedev are too weak, too tainted with corruption and too afraid of competition to tolerate even as a joke ‘I want to be prime minister’ or even worse, ‘I may run for president’.” I think so… Mr. Putin will runs to Presidency and because he is a smart and wise man (has anyone doubts about ?? 😉 ) will do a smart and wise choice that cannot to give him headaches…and for the fans of La Vendetta – No, yesterday wasnt November, 15 November… was 15 September 🙂

UPDATE: 20 September 2011

“Grey Cardinal” of the Kremlin and the first public statement after allegations made by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov

«Revival of a political life before elections was a predictable and normal situation» – has declared today on press – conferences in Ekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk) the first deputy chief of the Presidential administration of the Russian Federation, Vladislav Surkov, answering a question on last pre-election events in the country and the scandal around the party Right Cause. Also, Surkov said that “All is OK”, having emphasized that “our principles of work on political space will remain the same”. Well, Surkov has not explained what about kind of principles and old rules of the game he speaking …  maybe this time can to understand Mikhail Prokhorov too –  on other principle that says ‹better late than never›, isn‘t ?? … 😀

According RIA NOVOSTI, Vladislav Yurevich Surkov (VYS) on Tuesday has presented new Plenipotentiary Envoy of the Russian President to Ural Federal District, Evgenie Kuyvasheva. VYS asked to those present at the ceremony in Ekaterinburg support, friendship and help for the new Envoy of President Medvedev.

Published – Cadran Politic, no. 86, October 2011

The Master, Sorcerer’s Apprentice And Split Of Two-Headed Eagle Of Russia

If a few days ago Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wanted, in his speech delivered at the United Nations in Geneva, to remind to the international community that he is still a world first class leader, the speech delivered at SPIEF 2011 by President Dmitry Medvedev seems to be rather a message addressed primarily to its own citizens and secondary to the foreign guests. The media immediately described it as an indicator of the current president’s intention to run for another term. The more so as Medvedev condemned the government’s heavy hand in the economy, even in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin. Or I don’t think that there’s anyone who can say that the two bind a great friendship (Sechin is the main victim of point four of the Medvedev’s Decalogue – the replacement of senior officials with independent directors in key state-owned companies).

“It is impossible and unnecessary to manage the country from one point. Especially, if we are talking of such a country as Russia” Medvedev said and it was enough for journalists to announce (again!) an attack on the siloviki system owned by Putin and the intention of young president to distance himself from his protector, Russia’s prime minister, in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. Sure, the political battle means confrontation. A confrontation of ideas, mainly, when speaking about democratic regime. A confrontation of measures and programs that to improve the lives of people who go to the ballot boxes.
Hence to believe that two-headed eagle of Russia will break in two pieces just for the sake of confrontation and for media sensationalism is a long way. Why I think that we are currently in a Potemkin fight – more appearance than reality ? Let’s take a look. Somewhat more in detail. Customer’s materials, as one might say …

Last week, Vladimir Putin holds a meeting of the Popular Front’s Coordinating Council and said: “The front’s tasks are not limited to taking part in the elections to the State Duma. We must look towards the future and draft a long-term development strategy. I am convinced that we will be able to carry out our ambitious plans to modernize the economy and the social sphere only if we operate with broad public support and work for the people and in their interests. Rather than promising changes for the distant future, we must work step by step to improve living standards today”. In the SPIEF speech of President Medvedev we found about his vision of what Russia will look like in a few years’ time, and what needs to do to achieve this.

“I will talk about the project for developing Russia, a project that will come to fruition only if the whole of Russian society joins forces in its implementation. Projects only achieve results when society as a whole feels a need for and is involved in their implementation. This project will go ahead no matter who holds office in this country over the coming years” said Mr Medvedev.

The same view, different words. And a common denominator of both: the social cohesion. And the social contagion. These mean Vladislav Surkov’s cherished concepts when he must to reconcile the stability of the vertical power with the dynamic upgrade necessary changes to modernization.

More. President Medvedev said that: “Modernisation is the only way to address the many issues before us, and this is why we have set the course of modernising our national economy, outlined our technology development priorities for the coming years, and set the goal of turning Moscow into one of the world’s major financial centres. Of course this is not an easy process, and we knew from the start that we would encounter difficulties on the way, but we could not simply wait for the right time to come along, and decided to seize the initiative and take action. In any case, our modernisation policy is already starting to bear fruit”.

In turn, Prime Minister Putin noticed: “Using the structure of United Russia, we would like to bring new people out of the woodwork who have fresh ideas that are relevant to today’s Russia and our near future. Institutional issues are also being resolved – we have already selected a premise, and people have started working. So, I’m satisfied on the whole. Let me repeat once again: the most important thing is to seek out new people with fresh and interesting ideas that the country needs. On the whole, the process is going as we expected” and “This proposal is linked with United Russia because it is the leading political force in the country, and it has the capability to follow through on these ideas and to place people in the previously mentioned positions of power through its instruments and channels”.

The vision is the same. What is the difference ? One. While President Medvedev speaks the language of technocrats who advise him but nothing about political support, PM Putin also reminds us that he has political levers necessary to implement the program. Medvedev isn’t the lame duck, but also he isn’t Sorcerer’s Apprentice which to be exceeded his Master. And he knows that it is impossible to manage the country from one point as it is impossible to manage a country without political support. Especially, if we are talking about a huge country as Russia. Such comparisons analysis of text could run tens of pages.

The conclusions are but a few: any split between Russia’s two-man leadership is not possible, nor is it desirable and even is unconstructive. I don’t believe in the viability of confrontation for the sake of media ratings. The President Medvedev’s attitude seems to be rather the discontent and frustration of sorcerer’s apprentice because of its limited powers.

And those who dream at a Medvedev hero and think that Putin’s Era is over must wait. Yes, Mr. Medvedev has a young team, flexible and able to adapt, to seek pragmatic solutions and to react more quickly and effectively. Press recently wrote about the refusal of the political enrolling of presidential advisor on economic issues Arcady Dvorcovich. I think that isn’ a bad thing. On the contrary, the experience has shown that is at least inefficient to ask a technocrat to become political propagandist.

Instead, Prime Minister Putin has the infrastructure and support of the United Russia party. Maybe is a machinery little rigid, bureaucratic, with slow reactions and difficult to reform, but very necessary and useful in the electoral battle. A wise decision of President Medvedev would be that himself try to be the bridge for collaboration between his team and the necessary political support, whether PM Putin will give him a second chance or will decide to run for presidential office himself. In fact we could see an episode like that in 2008, and Medvedev could take up the post of prime minister.

The chances that the international community (already overwhelmed by a multitude of more serious problems) longer consider this an attack to democracy are minimal. There will be five years in which a significant part of the Skolkovo project will be materialized; also the measures and programs required to the Putin’s government, and that seem to run with snail speed, would get dynamics and coherences, and the Medvedev’s team results will be seen internally and externally. Only then can we see the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in a different light. Reality has shown that it can transcend the legend. Sometimes.

PublishedEurasia Review, 20 June 2011

  • Update: 20 June 2011 

The Russia President Dmitry Medvedev‘s interview given to the Financial Times newspaper is evidence that my perception was correct. Medvedev dismissed talk of a deepening rift with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in remarks published on Monday, strongly hinting they would not run against each other for president next year.

Russian opposition, the voters and wilted laurels of dissidence

In mid-March, in 76 of the 87 regions of the Russian Federation, population was called to the polls to decide their local authorities. Although the victory obtained of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s party no longer a surprise, this election (considered as a test of popularity for the ruling party United Russia, amid rising unemployment and utility prices) provided and surprises. Of that noted the victory in Irkutsk of the candidate supported by the Communist Party. As regards the poor results obtained by the opposition parties were already justified in the usual tradition of accusations against Putin system. The opposition’s leaders, seconded by non-governmental observers have spoken again the word “fraud”.  In reply, the Central Election Commission head, Vladimir Churov, said that the electoral system in Russia is “the best in the world”. Conduct of elections has been accompanied by unprecedented security measures. Predictable, given that last year’s regional elections (October 11, 2009), opposition parties shout loudly that the ruling party United Russia’s victory was due to a massive fraud. After that President Dmitry Medvedev said the country needs supervision more stringent to ensure a fair vote. Overall, on the fund crisis, United Russia had seriously lost its popularity, but it would be inappropriate to talk of a dramatic reversal of the opposition. Of course, voters tend to leftist ideology is normal in the context of the social problems of crisis. But victory in Irkutsk, where Viktor Kondrashov won 62% of votes, while United Russia’s candidate, Sergei Serebrennikov, only 27%, is rather due to a collective discontent of the population from local authorities and the quality candidate than a efficiency of the actions promoted by Zyuganov’s Communists.

In fact, the current elections reiterated that opposition parties have a huge image deficit in the eyes of voters. Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic party appear to have kept faithful voters. In change, liberal anti-Kremlin opposition shows no sign of their unit voice. Even if things in words sounds encouraging, in practice the change seems to come rather from the population where social tensions have accumulated disallowed much.

Moreover, the preamble to the regional elections, Russia has experienced a marked increase in protests from the people. Of course, the crisis has created serious social problems, almost all EU countries encountering large mass demonstrations. But when speak of Russia, things become rather more complicated. An overview shows that in the last two decades, drastic measures required by the Kremlin, supported the opposition’s inability to successfully establish itself as a truly viable political force, have resulted the democratic right to protest in ridiculous. Multiple arrests, followed by the release of protesters leaders gave a hilarious tone in tragicomedy of opposition’s actions. And this was reflected in time by the increasingly anemic desire of the population to claim rights in the street. [Full article]

Published in Cadran Politic Review, no. 71/martie 2010