#9 - JRL 7257
July 19, 2003
Russian Political Forces To Regroup
The possible victory of the Russian Office of the Prosecutor General over oil giant Yukos is absurd
The military experts collegium has recently discussed political aspects of relations between the government and oligarchs in connection with the actions taken by the Russian Office of the Prosecutor General against companies Yukos, Russian Aluminium and several other business structures.
There were various points of view set out regarding the reasons of the sudden prosecuting activity connected with previously closed criminal cases. It is obvious, the state is unable to solve relevant issues quickly and efficiently. The population is tired of that already - the majority of people had to find themselves economically unclaimed, living below the poverty line. Businessmen are tired of excessive taxes and administrative tricks, of the inability to restrain criminal activities. The large business is tired of constantly changing economic activity norms, attacks on the part of law-enforcement bodies, greedy lawmakers and judges, the absence of the state support to promote Russian products and services on the foreign market, inability to set perspective goals and tasks for the society, inability to develop the national development strategy.
It goes without saying that a lot of people, oligarchs, first and foremost, have to ask the following question to themselves: "Who needs such a state?" It seems that statesmen are aware of that. The problem of the present supreme power in Russia is about the low efficiency. Therefore, the ruling process is coming out of control. The administrative reform has not had any progress for three years. Federal presidential envoys have not become more important than governors and presidents of national republics, which particularly confirms presidential envoy in North-West Valentina Matviyenko's intention to run for the vacant position of the St.Petersburg governor. The struggle against poverty was announced three year ago, but it remained just an announcement.
The political system is disorganized. Federation units heads are unhappy with the federal center's aspiration to depreciate their subjective role in the political and economic life of Russia. The Federal Assembly - the State Duma and the Federation Council - has become an object of manipulation for various clans in the presidential administration and oligarchs. Realizing the growing feebleness, the government started panicking. Investigation measures taken by the Office of the Prosecutor General against certain oligarchic structures are the power's signal to all Russian political figures to reorganize themselves on the base of the following principle: if you are not with us - you are against us.
Yukos's CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was considered to be a politically dangerous persona for his attempts to create a powerful financial force that would not be controlled by the state. People of the president's milieu did not like Khodorkovsky's wish to determine the conditions and directions for the Russian fuel and energy complex to develop in East Siberia and the Far East, they did not like his wish to fund opposition parties, not to mention the "presidential ambition" that the press had ascribed to him. The Office of the Prosecutor General gave oligarchs to understand, one should not make any jokes about it.
Judging by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs' attitude to Yukos's case (wicked tongues call this organization the "trade union of oligarchs") one shall assume that the union is ready to obey the Kremlin rules. The press is following the same position: the society did not understand the liberal argumentation, and the indignation on the part of Russian liberal leaders faded out very quickly.
The possible victory of the Russian Office of the Prosecutor General over oil giant Yukos is absurd in its sense. Yukos and any other oligarchic structures appeared as a result of Boris Yeltsin's orders on privatization and pledge auctions. However, the former Russian president can not be judged according to the will of the incumbent Russian president, the State Duma and the Federation Council. The victory over Yukos will make the parliamentary elections take an apologetic character for Vladimir Putin, and he will definitely win the presidential election. But what is going to be next?
This does not remove the question about the inefficiency of the state in its current form for the people and the society. At least, two conditions are needed to make such a state become efficient. First and foremost, one should make Russian laws comply with the interests of the people, the society and the state. Second of all - people elect their officials and the latter must be totally responsible for decisions that they take and consequences that follow afterwards. It is still not known, if Putin and his team manage to modernize the state. One may say, good intentions have been prevailing over good deeds during the years of his presidency.