#13 - JRL 7205
May 30, 2003
THE POSITION OF A GRAY CARDINAL IN THE KREMLIN
Chubais is preparing the position of the Kremlin's Gray Cardinal for himself
Author: Alexander Golovkiv, Alexander Shakhunyants
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
ANATOLY CHUBAIS, GREATLY DISLIKED BY MOST RUSSIANS, APPARENTLY DOES NOT INTEND TO RUN FOR OFFICE. HOWEVER, IF THE UNION OF RIGHT FORCES HAS A SIGNIFICANT ELECTORAL SUCCESS, AS CHUBAIS HOPES IT WILL IN 2007- 08, HE WILL BE ABLE TO HAVE ONE OF TOP GOVERNMENTAL POSITIONS.
It is impossible to depict Anatoly Chubais's activities in post- Soviet Russia as only black or white. He used to be a leading player of Gaidar's governmental team. After his dismissal, Chubais became the major governmental reformer and the actual creator of the oligarchic regime that formed in accordance with the results of mass privatization.
Currently, Anatoly Chubais is the leader of Russia's specific liberalism - the ideology exclusively aimed at serving the interests of the few Russians who managed to become rich over the troubled transition period.
In summer 1998, addressing a congress of the Democratic Choice of Russia, Chubais declared the strategic objective: to put tycoons and further regional governors to their own place. Then, it seemed to be a bright image or an exaggerated joke. However, Chubais was serious: having headed the Russian Joint Energy Systems, he received both a good position in the top state hierarchy and a possibility to apply his political and economic aptitude in practice.
It is generally believed that over the past years, Chubais has concentrated this strategic interests on reforming the Russian energy sector which makes the political grounds evident. After new energy generating companies are structurally reformed in accordance with the plans of the "privatization father", a new powerful and united clan of "energy tycoons" will appear that will exert a tremendous influence on businesses of other oligarchic groups, many of which will be merged. That is how Chubais will keep his promise to "put tycoons to their place". The aforementioned energy generating companies are created as inter-regional - as a result, the major assets of current RJES units will be taken out of control of regional administrations which in turn will become strongly dependent on new privately-owned energy monopolists. Hence, Chubais will "put regional governors in their places" as well.
In 1998-99, Chubais was an active participant and sponsor of party construction that ended in forming the Union of Right Forces. Then, it was presumed that this political structure will be headed by Gaidar and Chubais tandem: the former would be an ideologist and a strategist; the latter would be the engine of the party. However, the three leaders at the top of the party list have announced their own political ambitions. Boris Nemtsov who was obedient to Chubais in 1997 suddenly showed signs of political independence and started promoting political initiatives opposing Chubais's plans.
Therefore, the Union of Right Forces today is no longer a party that Chubais needs. Besides, the Union of Right Forces is a rather anemic structure: it needs to be strengthened, and its leadership needs to be reorganized. Chubais will be able to devote himself to this as soon as he finishes reforming RJES. At the same time, Chubais has scheduled the most decisive power struggle for the 2007-08 electoral season, when Putin will be close to the end of his second presidency.
At the same time, Chubais will not ignore the impendent election campaign, especially taking into account the "oppositional" activities of Nemtsov, Khakamada, and some other faction colleagues that brings to unexpected and unpleasant results. In 1999, the Union of Right Forces mostly gained the votes due to Putin's support. Having started toughly criticizing the president, the right wing party is playing a risky game. They hope to win over additional votes at the expense of the traditional electorate of the Yabloko and other protesting voters - however, in stead they may lose the support of a considerable number of voters who supported it in 1999.
Nemtsov has long hoped to create a political bloc of the Union of Right Forces and the Yabloko by the next presidential elections and is currently obviously planning to stand in the election. However, Nemtsov's policy is most likely to bring the Union of Right Forces to failure at the parliamentary and presidential elections. Apparently, Chubais will not end for Nemtsov's policy to finally crash and currently he is trying to regain control of the Union of Right Forces. His latest move in this direction has been the appointment of his "loyal supporter" Alfred Kokh as Union of Right Forces campaign manager.
Having an extremely negative reputation among the majority of Russians, Chubais apparently does not intend to run in any elections. However, if the Union of Right Forces has a significant electoral success (for which Chubais hopes in 2007-08), he will be able to have one of top governmental positions, or at least the status of a "gray cardinal" at the leading team who will be able to direct Russian politics from behind the scenes.
(Translated by Arina Yevtikhova )