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Russia: Newspaper gives line-up and media leanings in Kremlin split
Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Moscow, in Russian 29 Nov 01

Kremlin is split in two has been for a long time, Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote on 29 November. An article by Marina Volkova, entitled "The cost of war. Information battles in Russia always end in purges of personnel and sometimes even the early retirement of presidents" provides details of the line-ups of the two rival groups and the leanings of various media sources. The following is the text of the article, subheadings have been inserted editorially:

The words "Kremlin", "centre", and "Moscow" have always had a clear meaning. In practically any period of the new Russia's history they have indicated a selection of particular political figures constituting some kind of team. (At least, a prolonged affray has not been tolerated in the Presidential Staff.) And when a phrase like "the Kremlin is in favour of (against)..." appeared on air or in the newspapers, it more or less reflected the actual state of affairs and the existence of some kind of common policy.

But that was in the past. The Kremlin is now "split in two", and has been for a long time. It is another matter that, out of respect for the popularly elected president's wish for stability in the country, of which stability in government is also a component, the "two Kremlins" have preferred not to take their disputes outside the crenellated wall. And if, at certain moments, "valor" has eclipsed reason - a recent example is the verbal clash between Kasyanov and Stepashin - the officials involved have gotten a hard time from Putin.

But even the unofficial lobbying system [kuluarnost] is now in the past. For two straight days the Moskoviya television channel has had Aleksandr Voloshin being dismissed as chief of the Presidential Staff, looking at this "fact" in terms of retrospective profiles taken at various removes and of abstract arguments about Voloshin's aliases lumped together with the geography of combat actions in Chechnya. The reply from his colleagues on Ren-TV goes along the lines of "don't hold your breath", reminding in the same instant of the horrors of the days when the special services were all-powerful. All the rules of information warfare are precisely observed. This is perhaps the first "grown-up" war under Vladimir Putin.

Line-up of "Kremlin-1"

Its senior protagonists - the ideologists and luminaries - constitute these "two Kremlins". The old Yeltsin team, that is, those who came to power before Putin became president, operate in "Kremlin-1". They are Aleksandr Voloshin, Vladislav Surkov, Mikhail Kasyanov and Igor Shuvalov. Those who have lost their jobs, been marginalized or, on the contrary, have appeared in the Kremlin and the government since Putin's accession could be added to the list. But these people are the less active ones and are more interested in localizing conflict. Although Nezavisimaya Gazeta's "family" sources do assert that, if they begin to smell roasting flesh, such people as Dmitriy Kozak or Dmitriy Medvedev are most likely to forget their Petersburg pasts. The same forecast extends to young reformers of the Aleksey Kudrin, German Gref and Anatoliy Chubays type. In a critical situation their position of biding their time, which has much to do with past and present slights, could drive them closer to the family. Especially since Aleksey Kudrin has already had dealings with the prosecution service over his Petersburg affairs. At that time the president interceded for him personally; nevertheless, as Nezavisimaya Gazeta has already written, the Ministry of Finance is prioritizing the repayment of debts owed by the office of the presidential administrator of affairs to Mezhprombank.

Line-up of "Kremlin-2"

"Kremlin-2" (the numbering is highly arbitrary) is actually composed of Mezhprombank head Sergey Pugachev, deputy chiefs of the Presidential Staff Igor Sechin and Viktor Ivanov, FSS [Federal Security Service] chief Nikolay Patrushev and deputy chief Yuriy Zaostrovtsev, General Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov and, to a certain degree, Audit Office chief Sergey Stepashin. This group also has quite a few hangers on, starting with FCN [Federal Chamber of Notaries] head Mikhail Fradkov and other enforcement department chiefs and ending with communist economist Sergey Glazyev.

Leanings of media

The newest protagonists in the information war are the media. Some television channels have already shown their colours: Moskoviya, which according to some reports is controlled by Pugachev, and Ren-TV, which has been acquired by Chubays - this is evidence, by the way, that Anatoliy Borisovich has already worked out whose side the "masters of culture" are on. ORT, RTR and NTV are so far remaining silent, and will evidently do so for as long as possible. The joke is that the state channel does not know which of the two Kremlins is the real one. But, judging from the benefit performances for the General Prosecutor's Office given in news and news analysis programmes, ORT, RTR and NTV gravitate towards "Kremlin-2". Meanwhile TV-6 is out of the game by virtue of the judicial process, but (very theoretically) it is one of a few television channels which, despite all its misdemeanours, could take the side of "Kremlin-1". Practically the entire newspaper sphere is on the same side. The printed media are owned by big business, and for it, no matter how individual representatives may regard the country's incumbent leaders, the Putin-Kasyanov-Voloshin triangle is some kind of guarantee that no redistribution of property in the country is intended. Business does not have the same confidence in "Kremlin-2" for both objective and subjective reasons. The objective reasons are: the story involving Kudrin already mentioned above, which typified the working methods of this group; the Gazprom situation and the sale of NTV; the election in Yakutia under Prosecutor's Office supervision or, more accurately, the struggle for Alrosa; the hordes of Prosecutor's Office personnel wandering around the Emergency Situations Ministry; the massing of blue uniforms around the Railways Ministry; and the expectation of invited guests in the biggest Russian companies. The subjective reasons are: If the oligarchs are going to be made equidistant, then they must all be made equidistant. But malicious tongues are saying that the head of Mezhprombank is a frequent, albeit uninvited caller at the presidential dacha. Pugachev had not been invited to either the third or the fourth RUIE [Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs] meeting with the president. But he was there. And all this coincides in a strange way with fantastic financial coups by Mezhprombank and its affiliated structures.

History of information wars

The first serious information "bloodbath" was in 1995, and it ended in the story of the box of Xerox paper and the dismissal of Korzhakov and Co. The second - the struggle for Svyazinvest in 1997 - cost the young reformers of Chubays's ilk their jobs. The third --the fight for the presidency in 1999 - ended in Boris Yeltsin's early retirement. Each time, the cost of an information war has increased. And today's situation is no exception. Especially since, as was the case in 1999, the conflict between the two groups does not just consist in a struggle for power and control of finances and freedom of manoeuvre but also takes place on the ideological plane. "Kremlin-1" is renowned for its liberal convictions and is relying on a national idea being born of itself, "out of the statistics" - the results that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin achieves. Nevertheless, in the mind of a "Soviet" person this is not associated with ideology as such, the longing for which is now met only by the CPRF, but comes entirely from the West, which Vladimir Putin is set to conquer.

Putin careful in taking choices

"Kremlin-2" is more organized in this sense and is not averse to taking a little gamble on the national card. "Russia for the Russians" is the slogan that accurately, albeit in a somewhat simplified fashion, characterizes the convictions of these people. The struggle against corruption being demonstrated in recent times is in every respect balm to a Russian's soul. It is a dangerous ideology, but Vladimir Putin is actually very mindful of the opinion of the people in his care, who always like to hear the things listed above. But the paradox is that neither "Kremlin-1" nor "Kremlin-2", between which the president has to choose (otherwise the rule of natural selection applies, and much then no longer depends on Putin), is the president's team. Nor can we talk about a "Voloshin group" in this sense either. Of course, "Kremlin-2" is actually beholden to the president for many of its appointments. One only has to think of the story of the "making" of Vladimir Ustinov or indeed Igor Sechin through the personal wish of the president. On the other hand Vladim Vladimych [Putin], as the president is named with condescending affection in Moskoviya reportages (sounding almost like Pal Palych [Russia-Belarus Union Secretary Pavel Borodin]), preaches the principle that is untypical in politics that "you are responsible for those that you have taken on". Putin finds it hard to let go of people, whether Voloshin or Ustinov. But even that does not mean that "Kremlin-2" is the president's real team. Indeed, Sergey Ivanov, by no means the last person in Putin's entourage, is refraining from taking part in the current Kremlin rumble.

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