Posts Tagged ‘Government


Opposition wants to build a new capital… in Siberia

Western media are damn right! What Russia really needs is a swift of Power and opposition leaders to take office! Well, this was before the internationnly acclaimed Other Russia party unveiled its political program for Russia. And the first step of its government would be to… build a new capital city in Siberia! What about unemployment and social issues?

A few months ago, Other Russia, which was then only a conglomerate of opposition parties and not yet an unified platform, gained enormous international credit for demonstrating in Moscow against Putin/Medvedev “authoritarian regim”. Former chess master Kasparov was among the leaders which brought international attention to the movement.

So, everybody was impatient to discover the party’s program. What do they have in store for Russians? So far, nothing able to improve citizen’s daily life and stenhten global national economy.

Led by controversial writer and activist Eduard Limonov, the party held its founding congress in Moscow on July 10. The party says its plan would counter Russia’s tilt towards the West – as well as boost Siberia’s ailing infrastructure.

The program, published in the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, also includes plans to eliminate red tape from Russia’s bloated government apparatus, and calls for wholesale reforms in areas as diverse as agriculture, housing, the army and the mass media.

Limonov, who once served time for plotting to raise an army to invade Kazakhstan, outlined “The Other Russia” he would like to see in a book of the same title published in 2008.

“Boys and girls will be taught to shoot from grenade launchers, to jump from helicopters, to besiege villages and cities, to skin sheep and pigs, to cook good hot food and to write poetry,” he explained, adding ominously that “Many types of people will have to disappear.”

He also suggested that Russia would need a “New God, possibly some Tunguska meteorite or an iron planet in the cold universe. Our god will be the one who gave us death. Maybe our god will be death.”


Ten years later: Happy anniversary Mr. Putin!!!

Vladimir Putin is about to celebrate his tenth anniversary since his designation by Boris Eltsin to become his successor. Of course, Vladimir Putin has not been president and officially head of state for ten years. But who cares? Putin’s longevity proves the world that one can be hated outside his country and remain the best option for the citizen. And for some reason, I think we’ll see Putin in ten years to celebrate his twentieth anniversary…

A short reminder of this past decade…

Cast your mind back to 31 December 1999. In Moscow, it is the last day of a century that has seen revolution and the collapse of communism.

Everyone in the Russian capital is waiting for reassurance from regions further east, where the new millennium has already started, that Russia’s nuclear power stations are still safe – now that the date on their computers has changed to 2000.

He is a street boy turned into a very sophisticated political functionary and manipulator
Sergei Karaganov
Moscow Higher School of Economics

The main news of the day comes as a surprise.

Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first post-Soviet leader, announces his resignation.

Vladimir Putin takes over as acting president.

There is war in Chechnya.

The economy is still reeling from Russia’s defaulting on its debt a year earlier.

Tough, and rough

Mr Putin “came into a virtual failed state”, says Sergei Karaganov, a former advisor to Mr Yeltsin, and now dean of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics.

Mikhail Kasyanov, file pic from 2005
He was, and is, an old KGB officer who leads, or tries to evaluate all events and future from that angle: how to control society
Mikhail Kasyanov
Former prime minister

He has watched both Mr Putin, and Russia, change.

“He is bright, even brilliant, very tough, sometimes rough. He is a street boy turned into a very sophisticated political functionary and manipulator.”

This description sums up Vladimir Putin’s great versatility as a politician: he can seem equally comfortable wearing an expensive suit and discussing economic issues with world leaders, or sharing a joke with soldiers and speaking their slang.

He has divided the opinion of those who have lived through his 10 years at the top.

Many ordinary Russians – and, of course, Russia’s new super-rich – thank him for bigger paycheques. Others see this as having come at too high a cost to political and press freedom.

Calm after chaos?

One of Vladimir Putin’s first moves was to appoint Mikhail Kasyanov as his prime minister. Today, Mr Kasyanov is Mr Putin’s implacable opponent.

“He was, and is, an old KGB officer who leads, or tries to evaluate all events and future from that angle: how to control society, how not to allow people to directly participate because that brings risks,” says Mr Kasyanov of his former boss.

Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, disagrees.

Vladimir Putin in Kozmino, eastern Russia, 28 December 2009

Versatile as a politician, Vladimir Putin has divided the opinion of those who have lived through his 10 years at the top


He puts Mr Putin’s political success down to an electorate fed up with the chaos it associated with Russia’s immediate post-Soviet democracy.

“[They] believed… that one needs to have a strong leader. And then Mr Putin appeared, and he was immediately supported by very many Russians who still had expectations for life changing for the better.

“This is how Mr Putin from the very beginning of his era received very strong support from society, from the Russian citizens.”

At times he has needed it – dealing with incidents like the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000; the Moscow theatre siege two years later; the killings of Beslan schoolchildren in 2004.

The arrest, and subsequent jailing, of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once Russia’s richest man, has been one of the most controversial cases of the Putin era.

Tense relations

In 2006, Russia held the G8 presidency. Vladimir Putin welcomed world leaders to his home town, St Petersburg.

The country felt it was reclaiming the superpower role it had lost with the demise of the Soviet Union. Still, under Mr Putin, Russia’s relations with the West have at times been tense. The eastward expansion of Nato has infuriated Moscow.

Russia’s war with Georgia saw the United States and many European politicians support Georgia.

“Russia has emerged for the West as something very alien, and it’s not really a partner, it’s not a threat, and the relationships are very ambiguous,” says Oksana Antonenko, a Russia expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

She believes, though, that Mr Putin has already done enough to guarantee his legacy.

Putin swims in a lake in the Siberian Tuva region

Images of Putin swimming in a Siberian lake this summer seem aimed at promoting his macho image


“Putin certainly has already assured himself a very favourable place in Russian history,” she suggests.

“Fifty, 100 years, 200 years from now he will be seen in Russian history as the man who saved Russia from the brink of collapse.”

Sergei Karaganov sees a more complicated picture.

“The cost of progress became higher and higher: blatant corruption, over-centralisation, and a decrease of incentives for economic growth,” he argues.

“If that is reversed somehow in the next several years, he will be seen as a controversial, but a great politician.

“If not, we will be facing a decline, and he will then be seen as a person who was relatively successful but then failed.”


The Siloviki faction: they are everywhere!!!

071031_putin_01In a recent post, I wrote about Hawks and doves within the Kremlin and many thought (as I expected) I was talking about the so-called Siloviki/financiers struggle.

Well, I wasn’t… Because I just don’t believe in this Siloviki faction you hear about whenever you read about Russian politics.

What is exactly this Siloviki faction anyway? For western journalists it is something like a sect or at least a secret order built on the ashes of the infamous KGB and which plans to take over Russia.

I”m not too much into conspiracy theories and I tend not to believe in globalizing theories. Let me explain.

According to many “observers”, the Siloviki faction gathers people close to Putin former FSB agents and/or people from St-Petersburg. Basically anyone who has ever met Putin!!!

I don’t buy it. Can we then talk about a “Chicago clique” behind Obama? I mean, is there something more common for a leader than to hire counselors he knows, with whom he has a common background.

Does it make a faction out of them? An unbreakable link? A common vision and objectives? Does it prevennt personal ambition?

But there’s more when you talk about the Siloviki. The alleged members of this faction would be ploting to take over Russia. Come on! In which circles close to government don’t you see people taking advantage of their situation. Corruption and embezzlement does not only exist in Putin’s Russia.

So, Putin has brought with him a bunch of hardcore nationalists, but is he himself anything else than a hardcore nationalist.

I think this all Siloviki fantasy is the silliest journalistic invention around Putin and his ambition for Russia. He does not need any secret faction to implement his politics. Unfortunately???