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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

#10 - JRL 7255
Rossiiskaya Gazeta
No. 143
July 18, 2003

As I see it, the current situation around YUKOS and other companies highlights a long-term struggle for a place under the sun during the 2008 presidential elections. The concerned parties must thus seize commanding heights already now. I had predicted that all this hustle and bustle won't begin prior to the President's inauguration in 2004. But life is full of surprises.

Russian authorities keep telling everyone over the last few years that they maintain equi-distant relations with the business community. This country's authorities believe that capitalists should mind their own business, and that they should not engage in politics. In my opinion, this strategic concept is erroneous, and today this concept is experiencing a crisis. First of all, every Russian citizen has the right to engage in politics.

Second, the business community, which is part and parcel of civil society, can't remain aloof either. And, third, our businessmen have been influencing local politics for a long time now in line with their self-preservation instinct. The business community tends to experience additional problems when the national situation becomes more complicated, acting more insistently. Our authorities should understand this perfectly well and enable businessmen to openly influence the political scene in line with the law. Otherwise the business community would defend its interests by illegal methods, bribing officials and helping loyal deputies and governors to win specific elections; the latter then start lobbying vested interests. No equi-distant attitudes exist in real life. The business community, which openly influences politics, is forced to heed public interests. This country's electorate will promptly understand what should be expected from each party and presidential candidate being financed by businessmen. We are still surrounded by a veritable fog; the curtain rises seldom enough, providing an insight into yet another round of a struggle between Russia's political-economic clans. The interests of the so-called top law-enforcement officers, big-league tycoons and the Family, i.e. politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen, who had wielded considerable power under Boris Yeltsin, are now clashing head on. Consequently, it would be quite logical to presume that vanguard clashes will continue between political clans, new scandals will follow, some other groups will be targeted.

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