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
#13 - JRL 7139
BBC Monitoring
Russian analyst criticizes power rivalries created by Putin 
Source: TVS, Moscow, in Russian 0335 gmt 9 Apr 03
Russian President Vladimir Putin is deliberately encouraging clan wars
within his entourage, says Yuliya Latynina, Novaya Gazeta observer
presenting the "Yest Mneniye" (My Opinion) morning commentary slot on the
Russian independent TV channel. However, this permanent feuding is
hampering efficient management, she says. The following is an excerpt from
the commentary broadcast by Russian TVS television on 9 April:

Once in the 14th century a Chinese emperor decided to root out
corruption... Here is a short list of incidents that occurred over the last
two weeks. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov publicly accuses the
finance minister [Aleksey Kudrin] and the minister of economic development
and trade [German Gref] of failing to carry out reforms... In a week the
head of pro-government One Russia party [Boris Gryzlov] publicly criticizes
the cabinet. The minister of culture [Mikhail Shvydkoy] is summoned to the
Prosecutor-General's Office [over the supposed handover of the Baldin
collection of paintings to Germany]. The prime minister issues a
performance warning about the inappropriate fulfillment of his duties to
Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade Mikhail Dmitriyev [for
distorting the cabinet position on pension reform]. On the same day Deputy
Prosecutor-General [Vladimir] Kolesnikov says that prosecutors have
questions for Kasyanov over the so-called fish case... However, nobody has
been arrested or even dismissed...

So, what's going on? Will Kasyanov be sacked or not? To answer these
questions, let's consider another one: could Kasyanov ever have attacked
two of his subordinates originating from St Petersburg and do it in such an
outspoken and rude manner on his own and without any encouragement? I can't
believe this. It appears that Kasyanov had received some kind of approval,
neither written nor even verbal, just a nod and a wink. Kasyanov is
reporting: it's not my fault, Kudrin is procrastinating on the [tax]
reform. The interlocutor nods: yes, I see. Inspired Kasyanov takes the
floor. If he did this on his own, he would be fired immediately and without
a golden handshake.

But what is the result? Did Kudrin and Gref lose their posts? No, Kasyanov
was left crying in the wilderness. Kasyanov didn't lose his post, either,
because he was not speaking without His Majesty's nod.

Let's look at another question. Could prosecutors try to catch the prime
minister in a net on their own initiative? I can't believe this. It appears
that they had got some kind of approval, neither written nor even verbal,
just a nod and a wink. A fleeting conversation: the premier is giving
himself too much authority, he is reprimanding ministers as if he is the
boss. The interlocutor nods: yes, I see. Inspired Kolesnikov gives a press
conference. So what? Was Kasyanov questioned? No, Kolesnikov also cried in
the wilderness. The deputy prosecutor-general didn't lose his post, either,
because he was not speaking without His Majesty's nod.

In an authoritarian society the democratic system of checks and balances is
replaced by confrontation between clans. It's a former KGB style. Everybody
was shadowing each other and reporting on each other, while the boss alone
had nothing to do with all this. He said nothing, he just nodded. Later on
he could show surprise: I told you this, you say? No, you were speaking and
I was just listening. I always listen to people very attentively.

If two clans are fighting, the ruler is always well informed about both
sides' mean tricks. If the clans are quarrelling in public, the ruler can
sack anyone at any moment. The laws adopted under the influence of
conflicting groups are always vague and controversial. If laws are
controversial, the ruler's will becomes the only law.

It's not an instrument of effective management. Effective management
implies progress, and permanent feuding makes any progress impossible. It's
an instrument of effective control. All the ruler's potential rivals are
being shot from afar and not by himself. As for corruption, it's part of
the system. Those who do not steal are difficult to manipulate.

Now I can answer the first question: will Kasyanov be fired soon, or not?
No, he won't. This would mean that Russia is governed by prosecutors, while
it should be governed by the president.

However, something must happen, because experience shows that scandals of
this kind play the role of military raids: shooting is heard somewhere,
while a breakthrough happens on the opposite flank. Let me recall that top
managers of Gazprom were replaced at the moment when rumours about cabinet
resignations were floating around.
Top    Next