In reference to the succession struggle after Stalin’s death, Winston Churchill famously compared the opaqueness of Kremlin politics to a “bulldog fight under a rug” where “an outsider only hears the growling and when he sees the bones fly out from beneath it is obvious who has won.” Churchill’s poignant witticism has been Kremlinologists’ seer stone since. And for good reason. Kremlinology resembles alchemy of old—one part science, one part magic, and two parts faith. Given this concoction, it’s no wonder the interpretation of Kremlin politics rests on deciphering growls, barks, and snarls.
There’s a lot of growling coming out of Moscow of late, and the bones are steadily piling on the living room floor. The grandees in Putin’s inner circle are once again entwined in a dance macabre, and as they spin, their movements unleash centrifugal forces that reverberate throughout the power elite. The endgame may be as nebulous as the politics that march to it, but the bulldogs’ muffled snarls are getting louder, generating questions whether Putin can keep a firm grip their leashes.
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By Sean — 4 years ago
There’s a new campaign in Moscow: “Two Thousand Russian Buildings.” The campaign seeks to paint two thousand buildings in the two capitals with patriotic graffiti. One such facade has already gone up in the Tagansk district of Moscow. Last week, the entire side of the Solzhenitsyn building was covered with large image of Crimea painted in the Russian tricolor. Next to it the artist emblazoned it with “Crimea and Russia together forever.” The graffiti was signed with the logo of the ruling party United Russia and the art collective LGZ-Art, or World’s Best City-Art. This graffiti is the latest example of the patriotic sentiment in Russia.
According to the Village, LGZ Art was registered in early March under the company Antikupon, a Russian version of Groupon. Dmitry Tsvetkov, a representative from Antikupon, the painting in Tagansk is part of a larger campaign to paint murals about the uniting of Crimea to Russia and other patriotic scenes “to nurture patriotic feelings in urbanities with the help of a wide spectrum of themes.”
How did this mural go up so fast for a project that was just legal registered a few weeks ago? Especially since getting permit for such a mural is a “long and difficult process”? It helps to be connected to Putin’s government. Aleksandr Dyagilev, the general director of Antikupon and the “Two Thousand Buildings” campaign’s face, has those connections. He’s a graduate of the Russian Academy of State Service under the President of the Russian Federation and a former participant in several pro-Kremlin youth groups: a coordinator with Walking Together, a Nashi commissar and a Molodaia gvardiia district leader in Moscow’s East Biriulevo district. Since 2009, Dyagilev also served as an election commissioner in several local and national elections. As for the permission to paint the mural, Dyagilev told the Village that everything was handled legally with the permission of the local administration and “local residents.” However, sources tell the Village that the “patriotic graffiti” didn’t get any administrative permission, but rather was initiated “from above,” presumably from United Russia’s leadership, since the painting carries its logo. According to Dyagilev, two million rubles has been allocated for the project.
As of today, another mural has gone up on the side of an apartment building in the district of Marino. Again there’s a Russian tri-colored Crimea decorated with the slogan “Enough lounging around at home, go vacation in Crimea.” Again the United Russia and LGZ-Art logo appears. About this mural, the Russian photojournalist Ilya Varlamov wrote, “This building is familiar to many reporters as the place where the apartment of Alexei Navalny, who is under house arrest, is located. It seems they decided to play an April Fool’s joke on Alexei.”
LGZ-Art murals aren’t the only Crimea inspired graffiti art to spring up. In the Crimean capital of Simferopol, the art group “Crimea’s Future” painted a mural influenced by the Michelangelo’s’ Sistine Ceiling, showing Putin with an outstretched arm saving the people of the peninsula. The painting includes the slogan, “You are with us, we are with you.” According to a “Crimea’s Future” press release, the mural “reflects the support which the Russian president extends to the residents of Crimea and also symbolizes that Putin is now personally creating the history of the peninsula.”
The art group has also created as series of posters in support for Putin. One features a leather jacket wearing Putin with “Order” across the top. Another shows Putin riding a bicycle with the Crimean coat of arms with “Ready or not here were come!” on it. A final poster shows Putin with third eye and the slogan “He knows better.”
Though some of these posters seem ironic, they’re not.
When asked about “Crimea’s Future’s” position on Crimea unification with Russia, Andrei Evseenko, a participant in the art group, told Ridus,
“We think that the new Ukrainian authorities completely discredited themselves before Crimea. When we declared our desire to conduct the referendum in which we ourselves wanted to determine the fate of the region, the nationalists who came to power took unprecedented measures to beak us. This [came in the form of] financial isolation and a transportation blockade. In this situation the vaunted western democracies did not come to our aid, but Vladimir Putin who has promised that Crimea would get all possible assistance. This is why we are so grateful to him and want to connect ourselves with Russia. This view is held by hundreds of thousands of people all over the Crimea, and they have already written us in support of our work and are grateful that we are not afraid to openly express our approval of Putin.”Post Views: 538
By Sean — 10 years ago
Here are the official results TsIK (Central Electoral Commission) head Vladimir Churov gave at a press conference.
United Russia: 64.1% Communist Party of the Russian Federation: 11.6% Liberal Democratic Party: 8.2% Just Russia: 7.8% Agrarian Party of Russia: 2.3% Yabloko: 1.6% Civil Forces: 1.1% Union of Right Forces: 1.0% Patriots of Russia: 0.9% Party of Social Justice: 0.2% Democratic Party of Russia: 0.1%
The turnout of the election was 63% of registered voters.
According to VTsIOM, the 5th Duma break down might be as follows:
United Russia: 313 seats.
Communist Party: 62 seats
LDPR: 40 seats
Just Russia: 35
In comparison to the composition of the 4th Duma, here are the gains and losses for each party when they enter the 5th Duma:
United Russia: +13
Communist Party : +15
Just Russia: +2
The fact that each party gained seats is because the 7 percent threshold cut the chaff from the wheat. When the percentages of the 4th and 5th Duma are compared, you get the following gains and losses.
United Russia: -1.9%
Communist Party: -1.2%
Just Russia: +.5%
Well, this breakdown in gains and losses puts things into perspective. Essentially, there will be no real difference between the 4th and 5th Dumas. The only notable difference is the restructuring of the legislature’s composition to reflect the 7 percent law. SPS leader Boris Nadezhdin told RFE/RL that the election means that Russia “is a different country now. We have returned to the Soviet Union. It is not parliament or the next president that will have real power, but the United Russia party.” I don’t see what difference he’s talking about. Nor do I see how “the new combination of power gives the party and those who control it virtually a blank check in terms of remaking Russia’s political balance.” Um, that was kinda already the case.
Much as been made of upping the parliamentary threshold from 5 to 7 percent in July 2005. But given the returns for yesterday’s election, Russia’s liberal parties still wouldn’t have made it into the Duma even if the law stayed the same. This is still the case even if you combine Yabloko and SPS votes. Now one can say what they want about how managed and manipulated the Russian election was. But at some point SPS and Yabloko are going to have to ask themselves why they have no meaningful constituency. And blaming the Kremlin isn’t the answer.Post Views: 141
By Sean — 10 years ago
And the winna is? Dmitry Medvedev. Putin named the young economic liberal as his presidential favorite in a meeting with United Russia leaders today. What is interesting is not so much what Putin chose, but what he didn’t choose. Putin didn’t choose the siloviki. He didn’t choose the economic nationalists. He didn’t choose the hawks. In Medvedev, Putin has endorsed someone’s who’s young (he’s 42), more liberal economic minded (he considers himself a liberal patriot), clanless (he’s said to have little or no ties to other Kremlin power brokers), and loyal (his rise is solely reliant on Putin). By most accounts, Medvedev looks at the West as a shining guiding light, but shades his eyes enough so it doesn’t blind him from Russia’s national sovereignty.
But does Putin’s endorsement officially end “Operation Successor”? Hardly. According to the Guardian, conspiracy theories of Putin’s return are hard to shake. After all, what is a poor Russia watcher to do without Putin? Clearly, his endorsement of Medvedev is hardly enough to satisfy critics’ deep desire, yet ultimate fear that Putin might just be leaving.
For critics see a weak leader in Medvedev. One that as President will give Putin the Prime Minister a blank check to do whatever he wants. Well, that’s true. But by all accounts, Putin may be leaving the Presidency, but there has never be any indication that he will leave Russian politics.
In fact, as some see it, Medvedev’s nomination is merely part of Putin’s larger plan to return.”Putin’s plan may well be to return after a year or two once Medvedev has messed up. But I don’t think he will succeed in this,” Mikhail Delyagin, the director of Moscow’s Institute on Globalization Problems told the Guardian’s Luke Harding. On Ekho Moskvy, Duma oppositionist Vladimir Ryzhkov said that this is all part of the Putin strategy. “The strategy is as follows: Medvedev is a compromise choice because he will allow Putin to keep a free hand.” he said. “If Putin wants to gradually leave power, Medvedev guarantees him comfort and security and will continue to listen him.” He then added: “If Putin wants to return in two, three years… Medvedev will be the person who will without a doubt give up the path for him.”
This is still an unfolding story and more will be discussed in the coming days. However, even at these early stages, one thing is clear. No matter what Putin does to show that he’s leaving the Presidency, his very own critics just won’t let him go. As Michael Corleone declared in Godfather III: “Just when I think I’m out, they keep pulling me back in.”Post Views: 151