Last week, the Central Electoral Commission released information on the wealth of Gennady Zyuganov and Vladimir Zhirinovsky. Today we got a glimpse at how high presidential favorite Dmitri Medvedev’s paper stack is. According to papers Medvedev filed for his candidacy, in the last four years he earned $71,000, owns a 367.8 sq. meter apartment, and has $111,200 stashed away in a bank. If you think Dmitri’s thug appeal wasn’t bad enough, check out his ride, or really his lady’s ride. Medvedev has no car, and if he wanted cruise Moscow he would have to do so in his wife 1999 Volkswagen Golf. Literally, a car for the people. How great would it be if we found Medvedev on Pimp my Ride? I’m sure Xzibit and Mad Mike could help a brotha’ out.
But wait. Medvedev is chairman of Gazprom. For some reason whatever he makes from that wasn’t included in his income declaration. Gazprom made a profit of $13 billion in 2006. How much scratch he’s getting from that is unknown. I know one thing, he didn’t squander it all on limited edition pink marble vinyl prints of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
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By Sean — 11 years ago
They say it’s ten but no names were given in the interest of the investigation of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. The ten comprise of a Chechen native who’s a specialist in contract killings, two security officers, one from the MVD and the other FSB, and three former police officers. The other four have yet to be identified in any way, but according to the Prosecutor General Iurii Chaika, the ten are “the direct organizers, accomplices, and implementors of the crime.”
The investigation, about which information has been scant for months, revealed that the conspiracy to assassinate Politkovskaya was composed of enemies from without determined to discredit the Kremlin. “As to the motives for the murder, the results of the investigation have led us to the conclusion that only people outside the territory of the Russian Federation could have an interest in eliminating Politkovskaya.” Chaika told the media. “It first and foremost benefits people and structures which aim to destabilize the situation in the country, change its constitutional order, create a crisis in Russia, return to the former system of governance where money and oligarchs decided everything, discredit the leaders of the Russian state and a desire to provoke internal pressure on the leadership of our country.” That’s quite a mouthful. All roads, it seems, lead to Berezovsky.
One can’t describe how neatly this fits into the Kremlin’s own narrative of not only the motives for Politkovskaya’s murder, but also the high profile murders of Alexandr Litvinenko, Paul Klebnikov, and Central Bank head Andrei Kozlov.
The convergence of the Kremlin’s line with the investigation’s own findings will undoubtedly raise suspicions as to whether those arrested are really the perpetrators. And though Politkovskaya’s colleagues at Novaya gazeta, which the Prosecutor’s office informed beforehand, feel that the arrests are based in real evidence, they can’t help be concerned that they will be used for political purposes. Sergei Sokolov, the deputy chief editor of Novaya gazeta says that the staff fears that the Kremlin would attempt “to steer the case in the direction of London.” By Chaika’s statements, that already appears to be the case. In addition, Solokov told the Associated Press, “Of course we are concerned that in an election year, this crime may be used by different groups for their own aims.” In the game of politics, they would be stupid not to. Such opportunism is no more a “Russian illness,” in Sokolov’s words, than the meat and potatoes of politics itself. No matter who, where, or how they are practiced.
But while I think suspicions of who Russian authorities connect to the crime are certainly valid, one should hesitate to fall lock step with the march of conspiracy theories that are surely on the horizon. There is no doubt that the Kremlin’s will strive to rationalize Politkovskaya’s murder within it its own paradigm of paranoia. That’s a given. But to use that as impetus to search for the real conspiracy behind the conspiracy doesn’t guarantee the revelation of any deeper truths. Such a search, I’m afraid, will only fuel a paranoia opposite of the Kremlin’s. That all roads lead to an omnipresent Putin.
One things is clear, Politkovskaya as “political football” has been dusted off and re-inflated just in time for a new season.Post Views: 174
By Sean — 11 years ago
Initial reactions to Putin’s naming Viktor Zubkov Prime Minister quickly dismissed the latter as a potential successor. It is now emerging that perhaps this was a bit hasty. Kommersant is reporting that Zubkov is not ruling out a run for the Presidency, though he has no intention to join a political party. “If I achieve something as prime minister, I cannot rule out that this could happen,” Zubkov said when asked about his political aspirations. As of now, however, Zubkov is intent on focusing on restructuring the Russian cabinet. “I think that the structure of the government is faulty, and the administrative reform that is carried out isn’t very effective. Structural changes will be necessary and personnel will also be looked at.” Who exactly in the administration will be subject to scrutiny is as of now unknown. But the issues Zubkov intends to tackle include “the development of the country, social coalitions, sport, veterans, pensioners, and the military.” Now that the situation in Russia is stabilized, he says, “it is time to move forward.” And if he is the one to facilitate this “moving forward” he will do it as a non-partisan. “I am non-partisan and I will concentrate my attention on the work in the government,” he said. Spoken like a true technocrat.
And while Zubkov’s bureaucratic demeanor may make him dull, it also makes him a politically safe bet according to the Duma’s sitting parties. The pro-Kremlin parties–United Russia, Just Russia, and the Liberal Democratic Party–all seem to approve in unison. Zubkov is assured Duma confirmation on Friday. The only lone voice of dissent is the Communist Party, which promises to cast its 50 votes against Zubkov. But such a protest vote will merely be a symbolic gesture. Zubkov only needs 226 votes to be confirmed. A number easily achieved by United Russia alone, which holds 300 votes. Still, United Russia’s parliamentary dominance hasn’t stopped the praise from Russia’s political establishment. LDPR head Vladimir Zhirinovsky stated that “I think that this will be the best government of Russia, it will be of time tested professionals.”
And just like that the previously unknown head of the Russian Financial Monitoring Office has been catapulted into the Russian political stratosphere. Not a bad birthday president for Zubkov, who turns 66 on Saturday. And of course speculation about Zubkov possible future as Putin’s successor has given fodder to a number of potential theories about Russia’s political future. Namely, that the Zubkov selection is part of a grander scheme for Putin to remain puppet master after he leaves office in 2008.
But I think that the view that Putin is puppet master belies the reality of Russian elite politics. Even though there is constant talk of clans, factions, silovki, and other nefarious, but nevertheless corporate, political forces, the road always leads back to Putin as some kind of omnipotent Tsar that is not beholden to any those groups’ interests and influence. Reducing Russian politics to one man, as it’s been done since Kremlinology was first imagined, is such a misnomer that it verges on naivety. If the Russian elite is indeed a network of clans, then even the most powerful individuals are set with the task of juggling, adjudicating, and mediating those clans’ often disparate interests.
And if Zubkov indeed becomes a presidential “dark horse,” there might lie the genius of choosing him rather than one of the presidential front runners, Sergei Ivanov and Dmitiri Medvedev. The latter two are big fishes in the pond, who, without a doubt, have their own khvosty (tails) of patrons and clients trailing behind them. Having one of them lead the show will only tip the balance in favor of one faction over another. But naming an technocratic “outsider” like Zubkov might be the perfect solution to maintaining a delicate balance. After all, the Russian elite has class and political interests to maintain, and creating a situation that could spill into elite civil war is bad for everyone’s business. What a better way to keep the juices of elite prosperity flowing than to appoint someone as faceless, uninspiring, and technocratic as Putin was when he was named Prime Minister in 1999? Because if there is any lesson that should be learned from Putin’s tenure as President, it’s that his power stems from his ability to keep the forces balanced; to let the elite have their cake and eat it too. So in the end perhaps the search of a “successor” is really about finding the right manager.Post Views: 147
By Sean — 9 years ago
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Dimitri Medvedev’s effort to court youth into politics continues on Thursday when he meets with young members of United Russia. According to Kommersant, the meeting will be attended by party leaders Mintemer Shaimiev and Yuri Luzhkov, General Council secretary Vyacheslav Volodin and young United Russia representatives from the provinces.
The meeting appears to have been thrown together at the spur of the moment, right before Medvedev’s comments on youth policy last week. Little has been said about the actual content of the meeting. According to Alexander Tretyakov, the head of the Perm’s United Russia office, “the delegation has been formed, but still not the full information about the event.” Aleksei Volotskov, a member of Volgograd’s youth council and UR member, said that he only got a request to submit his information for a background check two weeks ago.
As to what the President’s urgency to meet with young URs might be, Vlacheslav Burkov, United Russia member and speaker in Perm’s youth parliament, thinks that it could be about drawing up names for a national parliament for youth under 30. It is the “Year of Youth” as Medvedev’s press secretary told the business daily. Yet, according to Kommersant‘s sources, United Russia has yet to form a plan to addressing young members most pressing concern: forming a cadre of young political reserves. This isn’t expected to happen until the end of the year.
Nevertheless, it seems that Medvedev is taking the appropriate steps to draw fresh blood into the political establishment. As political commentator Dmitri Badivskii told Kommersant, “Medvedev may propose his idea of using the cadre of reserves especially at the municipal level and also propose party candidacy for governor appointments.” Maybe the President’s personal anointing of young people into municipal positions will begin breaking the stranglehold of local elder bureaucrats. Let’s hope so.Post Views: 237