Posts Tagged ‘sechin

02
May
09

Putin and the FSB: Big brother is Watching you

fsb-bw1I consider the Putin/FSB relation as one of the most interesting myths of today’s Russia.

I guess this show the great charisma of Putin who has been able to make believe to the whole world that he heads and perfectly controls the scariest organization: the FSB (formerly known as the even scarier KGB)

 As any myth, it is  very convenient to give a single globalizing explanation to situations that can hardly be linked to each others.

Let me explain my point. I’ve lived in Russia for years and I tend to believe that the FSB power is highly over-rated in Western medias.

It reminds me a bit of the last years of the soviet era, when American journalists and politicians scared the hell out of Americans on Soviet stength and military greatness. It took them years to realize that the so-called military greatness was nothing but a “paper tiger” as would Mao say.

I believe that today’s FSB is a little bit in this type of situation. They undoubtedly have a great know-how in intellligence and “counter-terrorism” technics.

But let be honnest, they have very little means and therefore they are unable to realize the huge and disgusting work the KGB did under Stalin’s rule.

Moreover, it is also very convennient to believe that Putin perfectly controls the FSB. As in any organization, there are struggles and tensions among the FSB.

People like Sechin for instance also have a huge influence among FSB top officials. Greater than Putin’s? I don’t think so, but great enough to be able to send contradictory messages and orders.

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15
Mar
09

Doves vs hawks: a Kremlin story

moscow-kremlin-5Doves vs hawks is an all-time political story but it has a special flavour when the struggle takes place within the secretive walls of the Kremlin.

During the Soviet era, the struggle was tough and often deadly between “doves” willing to loosen up the socialist system as well as the relations with the Western world, and “hawks” who wanted to dramatize the cold war confrontation and keep Russsia under the very soviet rule.

No ideologies in today’s Russia but the basics remain: nationalism vs liberalism; vertical of power vs (a little more of) democracy.

It is also to say that in Russia the Czar is above these matters and parties, using the strength of both camps when necessary. The czar being Vladimir Putin, he has remained neutral since his first election, picking his closest counselors and ministers in both camps.

Èçáðàííûé ïðåçèäåíò ÐÔ Ä. ÌåäâåäåâIt has been said for a while that the “dove” camp most prominent figure was Dmitri Medvedev. Eventhough he shows since his election that there is also a “hawk” in his very heart, Medvedev still represents the most acceptable type of  Russian politicians for Western countries, and his “nomination by Putin to become president as been felt as an humiliation and an insult by the “hawk” camp, which hoped to see at least a more neutral figure at the presidency.

The “hawks'” key figure is Igor Sechin, a long time close and listened counselor of Putin, who currently is vice-Prime Minister.

sechinSechin is an interesting character and one of the most brilliant politicians in Russia. I guess he imagined he was to replace his mentor as president and I am not sure that Putin’s pick will remain without consequences for their relationships.

Sechin is the man who inspired almost all of Putin’s radical choices during this last decade. A pure Russian nationalist, he has used all of his influence to bring Russia back to business through confrontation, notably with the US.

However, his influence has not been great enough for him to be selected as Putin’s nominee for presidency. I don’t think Sechin has said his last word. He is still in business… and for a long time.