Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
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RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly
Vol. 3, No. 23, 13 June 2003

Last year's election in Krasnoyarsk Krai launched the career of not just one but two potential contenders for the 2008 Russian presidential race, former Norilsk Nickel head Aleksandr Khloponin and State Duma Deputy/economist Sergei Glazev. Khloponin actually won the race for the governor's office, but Glazev's third-place finish -- with more than 20 percent of the vote -- focused new attention on him as a potential alternative presidential candidate to Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov. According to a political consultant familiar with the campaign, in meetings with voters in Krasnoyarsk, Glazev at times simply read from one of his economic texts. But the consensus among campaign specialists is that Glazev at least has Zyuganov beat in the charisma sweepstakes.

Glazev, 42, looks like an older, more tired, version of the American movie actor Matthew Broderick, although the latter is actually two months older than Sergei Yurievich. (Compare http://www.glazev.ru and http://www.the-movie-times.com/thrsdir/actors/actorProfiles.mv?mbrode rick). Like President Vladimir Putin, Glazev likes to ski. And while he cannot throw his judo opponents across a mat as can Vladimir Vladimirovich, he could chitchat with U.S. President George W. Bush in fluent English. And as a trained economist, he could talk shop with International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and World Trade Organization officials -- although they would probably not agree on anything fundamental.

Glazev was born in Zaparozhe, Ukraine, in 1962. Had he been born just a few decades earlier, he likely would have remained in academia. But circumstances propelled him -- and other young economists -- into politics. In 1983, he finished his studies in "economic cybernetics" at the prestigious Lomonsov Institute at Moscow State University. Just three years later, at the age of 25, he defended his kandidat's degree on the theme of "economic changes in the technical development of the Soviet Union in cross-country comparisons." In 1990, at the age of 29, he defended his doctoral dissertation on the "regularity of long-term technical-economic development and its use in the administration of the people's economy." In 1990, he was the youngest person to earn a doctorate in economic science in the Soviet Union, according to "Profil" on 12 May 2003.

In the late 1980s, Glazev was in Moscow at just the right time to hook up with two other young economists who would soon play a leading role in national politics -- Yegor Gaidar and Anatolii Chubais. Starting in 1987, Glazev participated in the famous economics study group led by Chubais and Gaidar. According to "Profil," other participants in the historic seminars did not notice at the time that Glazev had any kind of penchant for "dirigiste" methods of managing the economy. In fact, some British economists who worked with Glazev and the future Russian director for the IMF, Konstantin Kagalovskii, at the Center for the Study of Communist Economics, were "flabbergasted" when later in the 1990s, Glazev started to express his more leftist orientation toward economic policy.

In the fall of 1991, when new Russian leader Boris Yeltsin called on him to form a government, Gaidar tapped fellow seminar participant Petr Aven to head the Committee for International Economic Relations. Aven turned to Glazev to be his deputy. When the committee became a ministry, Glazev became first deputy minister. At the end of 1992, Gaidar was forced to resign, and Aven also followed suit. But Glazev remained, becoming minister for international economic relations. He soon butted heads with the more influential Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shumeiko, and after a humiliating episode in which his plane was ordered by his higher-ups in Moscow to turn around in mid-air while on its way to debt negotiation in Africa, Glazev tendered his resignation after less than nine months as minister. On that occasion, Yeltsin did not accept Glazev's resignation, but a month later, in September 1993, Glazev again tendered his resignation, this time to protest Yeltsin's decree dissolving the Supreme Soviet, and his resignation was accepted. According to his official biography on glazev.ru, Glazev "was not a supporter of [then] parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov, but as he [Glazev] says, 'Democracy is first of all a process of negotiations and respect for the law.'"

For a short time, Glazev returned to academia, but then a fellow veteran of the Gaidar government, Nikolai Fedorov, invited him to participate in the 1993 State Duma elections on the party list for the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR), according to "Profil." In the first Duma, Glazev became chairman of the Committee for Economic Policy. If earlier, during his stint in the cabinet, "the monetarist policies of Gaidar did not directly affect Glazev's work," according to "Kto est kto," during the debate over the 1994 budget, Glazev's found his voice. By the fall of 1994, Glazev had become the "informal leader of the Duma antigovernment movement" and potential shadow prime minister. Glazev initiated a vote of no confidence in the government, which failed. On the eve of the vote, articles appeared accusing Glazev of being a lobbyist for industry, one of which was signed by presidential administration head Sergei Filatov. A few months later, Glazev returned the favor, publishing an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" blasting Chubais's plan for privatization.

In December 1995, Glazev ran again for the State Duma, but the party with which he aligned himself, the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO) led by former General Aleksandr Lebed, did not surpass the 5 percent barrier to enter the parliament. After the 1996 presidential election, Glazev followed Lebed to the Security Council, but four months later when Lebed resigned, Glazev also left, finding new work in the apparatus of the Federation Council, where he remained until the next Duma elections

The appearance of Glazev's name on the Communist Party list in the 1999 Duma elections was "very unexpected," according to "Kto est kto." Some of his former colleagues still hadn't forgotten that before the union he had been a member of the DPR. An unidentified deputy from the first Duma told "Profil" that "Glazev then and Glazev now -- these are two different people -- then he was an economist and now he is a politician." But the alliance with the Communist Party finally gave Glazev a national platform to present his economic views. He became the party's chief "talking head" on economic policy matters. According to Columbia University professor of economics Richard Ericson, "the Communists had been arguing for massive state support for the flower of Soviet industry, and Glazev produced much more respectable economic arguments for it than the Communists could muster on their own." Glazev has long been in favor "of massive monetization, of granting huge credits to the machine-building industry and the other stars of Soviet industry, so that they can finance production, and produce products that they can then sell." According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta -- Figury i litsa" on 27 April 2000, in his published works, Glazev remains supportive of a market economy but he considers it expedient to create general government control over the economy during an unhealthy transitional period. He never says anywhere that this should always be the case, according to the newspaper.

According to his own official biography, Glazev had decided by 1998 that "to solve the country's serious problems, it needs a serious party." And aligned with the Communists, he managed to return to the Duma. He even became chairman of the Duma's Economic Policy and Business Committee for a time, but he has yet to achieve the same level of power and influence that he had in the first Duma. It was only his unexpectedly strong performance in the Krasnoyarsk race that pushed him to the center of national attention once again.

Earlier this month, Glazev became co-chairman of the Russian Regions party. One Communist Party official, Ilya Ponamarev, denied that this move was proof of any kind of fraying of Communist Party unity. "Sergei Yurievich just likes to collect movements," Ponamarev commented, according to "Vremya novostei" on 2 June. The fact remains, though, that Glazev's neo-Keynesian views would find a better home in a social democratic rather than communist party. Glazev may be uncomfortable being in an umbrella movement led by the Communists, and he might find a truly independent umbrella movement in which the Communists are just one component a more comfortable fit. (Julie A. Corwin)

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