Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

November 30, 2001
Interview with Gleb Pavlovsky, head of the Effective Policy Foundation
Author: Artur Akopov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]


Question: The next presidential elections will take place in two years and a half, but there is already much talk about the beginning of the election campaign. Moreover, they assure that you have already prepared and sent to the presidential administration several analytical memos with the scenery for this. Is it true?

Pavlovsky: At present any scenarios or predictions for the future presidential election campaign are nothing but fiction and publicism. The election campaign will not start so soon, and the moods will have changed more than once by that time. A election scenario is needed as a technical task for real political work. It would be useless to prepare it now. Only those candidates who have no chance to win have already started preparing for the campaign. And Mr. Putin has no time or need to deal with this, he would to better to prepare himself for forthcoming shocks. As for people who are waving around scenarios for future victories, I think that they just want to prove the need for their own participation in the next elections.

Question: Is it worth while spending money and strength on an election campaign for Vladimir Putin? We can hardly believe that his rating may fall. If we consider this variant, would it mean that the president should just spoil all he has done?

Pavlovsky: So, now you are trying to suggest your own election scenario - a battle for the rating! But the president's approval rating is not an appropriate guideline, since there is still lots of time. There will be a number of shocks, both international and domestic, which will change the current political picture quite radically.

Question: What shocks do you mean?

Pavlovsky: Look, how fast and unpredictable the world situation will transform itself, how priorities change. At present countries are trying to adapt themselves to it, which, by the way, is not so good - the world changes blindly. Everyone runs without knowing where and what for, but everyone ahs to change. It is quite clear that we will witness several military conflicts in Asia. There will be new blows of international terrorism. It does not boil down only to the network of Osama bin Ladin, which has not been totally destroyed yet: neither in Europe, nor in the United States. Control over the global economy will have to be restored under a storm of military-political risks. Besides, it is obvious that there will be some staff reshuffles in Russia, both in the cabinet and the political community.

Question: What can you tell us in connection with rumors about possible dismissal of head of the presidential administration Alexander Voloshin?

Pavlovsky: This is an obvious game on information field. We could guess who and what for are playing it, but we are not interested in it. There might be different sources. Yes, there is some feeling of expectancy now in the administration office, connected with moving forces of Putin's maneuvers. Although, these are more conceptual and personal that political disagreements, they spread into media.

Question: In other words, rumors about Voloshin's dismissal are just rumors?

Pavlovsky: Any dismissals are in the president's competency, staff are his political keyboard. But the mentioned group of dismissals would lead to a serious destabilization of interior policies mechanism, beginning with adjusted regime of legislative work of the Federal Assembly. Several so-called security officials, however, I would not call them like this, they are more like bureaucratic dweebs, sometimes with epaulets and stripes.

The presidential administration is now the most successful and effective power unit. Personnel play here not so important a part. There are a number of objective things. In particular, at present we really need citizens to be able to takee responsibility instead of just scolding the government.

Putin has won within Russia, but civil peace has not set in yet. Society has chosen between opponents and supporters of common federal state. The state does not have strong opponents to lead a war against them. It is time to start building a state, making agreements with public structures on the basis of the Constitution. And suddenly it turns out that there is no peaceful consensus in the bureaucratic structure. Internal war is habitual and comfortable for many, and even profitable: big consignments, special financing, easiness of writing sums off... Some of them would like to fight for another year or two and thus get from the administrative elite to the financial one.

Question: Whom do you call parasites?

Pavlovsky: These are top ranking state civil servants, hanging on to Putin's resources. The present administration is a machine which works efficiently, without using only the president's resource. It does help speed up legislative process, drive reforms, stimulate counter society development. It is negotiatable for all legal political and social forces. Let us take, for example, the recent Civil Forum. And the so-called security officials do not have anything except their vertical of power slogan, which has been invented by those who they hate, but themselves. The fact of generals coming to power was interesting and important as an experiment, search for personnel should be held in Russia on a wider basis, without any exceptions. But it is clear that generals turned out to be unsuccessful in power due to narrowness of their professional competence, Yury Kobaladze spoke about this at the forum.

Lack of competence lies in the basis of plans for reshuffles in the presidential administration. Speaking frankly, I imply that part of the Kremlin office, which is connected with control over security structures staff and considers that bureaucratic control is enough for tackling all political questions. But such bureaucratic policies can easily get corrupted and start aspiring toward restoring oligarchic cliques on a new basis. A banker does become an oligarch, it is a civil servant, who has gathered a file on this oligarch. And a prosecutor and a banker serve and pay for his intrigues. For example, today's terrible situation in Yakutia, a part of responsibility for which should be placed on the General prosecutor's office. I recollect Korzhakov's schemes, who is, by the way, one of the Kremlin's major failures. It was Korzhakov's clique that led to defeat in the first Chechen campaign and put the federal power on the verge of destruction. I believe that it is time to speak about it loudly, and explain to those responsible what they are gaining at. Many now mention the name of Igor Sechin, whom I appreciate due to his work at Putin's election campaign. I would like to believe that his name is mentioned to no purpose.

Question: Can you think of a political figure who might serve as alternative to President Putin?

Pavlovsky: Russia is a vast country, and there must be people, who are able to compete with Putin in future. But we do not know them yet, and maybe they do not know it either. There is no alternative got Putin yet. Only certain forces in his office circles can compete with him in the nearest future. And this is not political rivalry, but manipulations behind his back. Or rather they will try to gain control over him, exchanging information with each other and fellow-bankers. They will go on trying until they come to a conclusion that it is impossible to control Putin from the Kremlin, like it was impossible to control him from Media-Most. He cannot be influenced by oligarchs, and even his former friends. When they realize it at last, reactions will be different. Some will analyze their mistakes and stay with the president. By the way, Putin is always ready to forgive mistakes, if they are not fatal and not periodic, or mercenary, which is the worst of all. Some may decide that Putin hinders them as personalities and as system. Such people will look for a way out in attempts to address the crowd and destabilize the situation. It will provoke search for remaining oligarchs, corrupted civil servants and God knows what else. Our history can give lots of examples, when state machinery lost certainty and resorted to extreme measures, up to coups and massacres. All political regimes in Russia were overthrown not by oppositions, but by administrators, whom heads of states trusted.

(Translated by Daria Brunova)

Back to the Top    Next Issue