Russian Politics, & Personalities

Konstantin Sonin Is Bored

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I have read this op-ed piece by Konstantin Sonin about five times now, and I am still confused.  Not by what he says in the middle, but his beginning, and his conclusion.  He begins by saying: “In December [2008], I predicted that there would be huge shakeup in the Kremlin and White House at some point in 2009. It looks like I will be wrong on this one.”

There are still 10 more weeks (give or take) left in the year, so it is entirely possible that something big could happen.  But I rather doubt it will be what Sonin predicts.  However, he makes a good point.  The structure of the Tandemocracy is such that it would be impossible to make a dramatic change without transforming the structure itself.  Tipping the balance in favour of one group over the other could be dangerous (even though, as I have said before, it is not truly balanced).  Sonin takes this a step further, and tries to argue that even changing out Luzhkov would be mistake because it would make Luzhkov’s successor (allegedly Sobyanin) too strong, and destroy the status quo.

As I have previously stated, Yuri Luzhkov is just too strong to take on, or out.  Yes, he has suffered set-backs in the past year or so, but who hasn’t?  I have also discussed the issue of Sobyanin before, and why I think that Sobyanin as a successor to Luzhkov is just not true.  I could see moving Sobyanin into Gromov’s place as Governor of Moscow Region, and then later moving him into the Mayor’s office.  But I am not entirely convinced simply because of the nature of the system.

The power vertical forces alliances, and Sobyanin would have to play the strong man in order to gain control.  By playing that role, he would then become independent of the very people who created him, and pulled him out of relative obscurity.  And what do you suppose would happen then?  He would become another Yuri Luzhkov, or Mintimer Shaymiyev (President of Tatarstan), or worse, Ramzan Kadyrov.

At the same time, Zhukov is too weak to ever be truly effective, thus creating the “power vacuum” that Sonin refers to. And Kozak (another rumoured successor to Luzhkov) is too volatile (and too “liberal”).

Sonin’s conclusion?  “Despite these inherent political dangers, I remain firm in my prediction: There will be some big political shakeups in the next few months.”

I am still not entirely convinced.  I can see moving some more people within the Administration and Government around.  In fact, I have been expecting it.  But if Sonin truly believes that either of his three predictions will take place, he is (I apologise in advance) dreaming.  And he knows it.  Konstantin Sonin just wants some excitement in his life.


Written by Nina Jobe

October 16, 2009 at 11:12 PM

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