#9 - JRL 7253
July 17, 2003
THE END OF STABILITY
Renegades all around
Making sense of political developments over the past month
Author: Andrei Stepanov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
WHAT IS THE TRUE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE OPERATION AGAINST CORRUPTION IN LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AND THE ANTI-YUKOS CAMPAIGN? THIS COULD EVEN LEAD TO A CONTROLLED CRISIS. THE CRISIS WOULD HELP THOSE WHO DOESN'T WANT TO PLAY BY THE RULES TO OVERTURN THE CHESSBOARD AND FORCE EVERYONE TO PLAY A DIFFERENT GAME.
Many observers noticed that the anti-YUKOS campaign was launched right after the operation against corrupt personnel in the law enforcement agencies. Even our ancestors knew that "before" doesn't mean "because". All the same, there were reports in the media about a number of quite ineresting details making one wonder about the true nature of the connection between these events - and some other developments as well.
The operation against corrupt police is generally viewed as Boris Gryzlov's PR campaign. For some reason, virtually no one gives a thought to how strange it is to promote a minister by means of taking his high-ranking subordinates into custody. By the end of the month, pollsters will answer the question of how successful the publicity stunt has been (in other words, if the rating of Gryzlov's United Russia party has risen); but it is reasonable to expect a negative answer. We can only guess at this point on the effect of the operation against renegades on the electorate. It is already clear, however, that the respect Gryzlov commanded in the Interior Ministry (never considerable to begin with) has been seriously damaged. All his subordinates from generals to policemen on the beat are enraged. If not by the fact of the arrests itself (after all, this is not the first time corrupt officials are jailed), then by the accompanying propaganda campaign. All this propaganda seriously undermines the repute and image of the law enforcement agencies in general and every policeman in particular, and ordinary police officers know it much better than the analysts endlessly speculating on what they call Gryzlov's PR action. A minister from beyond the system, someone with contacts in the Federal Security Service (there have been no love lost between the police and state security for decades), Gryzlov has never been particularly popular with his subordinates. As far as ordinary police are concerned now, he is a traitor who traded his own men for dubious political dividends. Ordinary police officers play an important role in elections in Russia (In fact, their role is no less important than that of chairmen of local election commissions) because they escort transportation of ballot papers and so on. It means that the operation against renegades in uniforms is essentially a powerful blow at United Russia's administrative resource.
By the way, there are persistent rumors in the Interior Ministry that Gryzlov himself remained unaware of the operation until it began. If he really was unaware, then it is wrong to consider the minister and United Russia leader an inept politician. He got his bearings instantly and did his best to turn the tables and benefit from the situation he found himself in.
According to political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky, "the anti-YUKOS campaign was planned by people who knew everything there was to know about the operation against corrupt police." Or it is probably possible to say that both operations were planned and orchestrated at the same think-tank. These people probably do not have anything to do with Gryzlov or United Russia's campaign team. They are probably associated with the other, alternative headquarters that has lost its former influence with United Russia but retains his interests that have to be promoted. It will lose all of its influence and influence otherwise and that has to be prevented at all costs because the clan's business depends on its influence.
It is no coincidence, after all, that the old rumors and speculations were reanimated in the political establishment in the wake of all these events. The rumors concern the possibility of postponement of parliamentary election and its synchronization with the presidential race next March. All this resembles 1996 and the war between Chubais's and Korzhakov's groups in the presidential circles. The election is unlikely to be postponed of course, but observers are left with the impression that someone's time is running out and that this someone is trying to ruin his political enemies' plans.
It follows that there is a connection between the operation against police renegades and the problems of Russia's largest oil company; but the connection is somewhat different from what is being presented to the public. It is already possible to figure out the next targets of this "instability PR". Blows will be regularly delivered at the system-forming companies, particularly those well-known in the West, and United Russia's bastions in Russia. For example, two or three renegades may be discovered among the regional leaders loyal to United Russia. Closer to the election, several new conspiracies will probably be exposed. It may even be a controlled crisis. The crisis would help those who doesn't want to play by the rules to overturn the chessboard and force everyone to play a different game.