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#7 - JRL 7247
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
July 11, 2003
Experts Expose a Conspiracy Against the President
By Alexei Bausin
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]

Political experts gathered yesterday at an emergency meeting of the Open Forum Club and concluded unanimously that President Vladimir Putin rather than the oligarchs is the primary target of the anti-YUKOS campaign.

Alexander Konovalov, president of the Strategic Evaluation and Analysis Institute, says "the anti-presidential conspiracy has not appeared out of thin air." Firstly, Putin denied having any intention to run for a third term. Secondly, he made it clear that he preferred to remain independent from any political parties. So the plotters are aiming to force the president to choose sides. Konovalov considers that only Putin himself can put an end to all this lawlessness.

Mark Urnov of the Expertise Foundation called this a "blow to the gut for the president". Urnov says that some powerful clan in the upper echelons of the state is trying to distrupt the liberal modernization trend and propose a model based on a more active and significant role for the state itself. The timing for the anti-YUKOS campaign was chosen with care. A great deal of foreign investment had been expected to enter Russia in the near future, and after that a turnaround would have been much more difficult, if not impossible. The target company was chosen with some deliberation as well. YUKOS is among the Russian companies that have switched over to international standards.

Anatoly Golov, director of the Social Policy Institute, believes that the YUKOS case is "pure politics." Golov says that the shut-down of the TVC network, the arrests in the police corruption case known as "Operation Werewolves in Uniform", and all these sudden grievances against a major Russian company are supposed to remind everyone who is the boss around here.

Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Russian Jewish Congress, refuses to be over-dramatic. He considers that the unusual activity of the Prosecutor General's Office fits in with the context of relations between business and government in Russia.

Politician Grigori Yavlinsky describes business and government in Russia as "Siamese twins", with all the latest events being like a fight between the twins. The Yabloko leader has no doubt that such conflicts will recur in the future. Only an independent parliament, independent courts, and free and fair elections can be a guarantee against this kind of situation.

Independent Duma member Vladimir Ryzhkov says that Russia is now at a crossroads. On the one hand, the nation is being offered a model of development entailing nationalization and isolation from the international community. On the other, it is still possible for Russia to be integrated into the global economy. The public remains silent - which means that the president will have the final say, as always.

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