Russian Politics, & Personalities

Archive for the ‘Tandemocracy’ Category

My 2012 Election Predictions

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There is probably not a good way to say this beyond the absolute, blunt truth: Putin is bored.  He hates being PM, and I am not sure that anyone could, or should, blame him for it.  Putin has essentially been Mr Russia for the last 3 years and some odd months.  Even Miss America is only Miss America for one year, and there is a reason for it.  That reason is, of course, that she’d go stark, staring mad if she had to do it for longer.

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Tandem 2012?

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I found two articles this past week on the Tandem, and its continued viability.  The first was by Andrei Kolesnikov of Novaya Gazeta, published by Open Democracy.  In his article, Kolesnikov cites examples of tension within the Tandem ranging from Okhta Centre in Saint Petersburg (a win for Medvedev, per Kolesnikov) to Khimki (a win for Putin), and, of course, the sacking of Yuri Luzhkov (a win for Medvedev).

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Written by Nina Jobe

January 12, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Oh Stanislav Belkovsky…

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you seriously read way too much into things.  Not that I’m criticising.  I tend to do the same thing.  I am just not sure that I agree with you.

Stanislav Belkovsky, an independent analyst, said United Russia was aware that Medvedev had planned to halt the highway project and suggested that cracks were emerging in its once-steadfast alliance to Putin.

“The decision shows that the party is responding to orders from the top powers represented by Dmitry Medvedev and not to Vladimir Putin, the party leader,” he said.

And does anyone really believe that you are “independent”?  What does that even mean?  That you’re not paid by the Kremlin?  But surely someone is paying you.

And does this go along with Frolov’s latest piece of propaganda about how “green” DAM is?  Maybe Frolov talked DAM into this decision.

P.S. The photo of Bono is awesome.

Written by Nina Jobe

August 26, 2010 at 9:04 PM

Dmitry Trenin

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on the Tandemocracy:

Westerners often see Russian politics in terms of a high-level struggle between liberals and conservatives: Ligachev and Yakovlev under Gorbachev; reformers and nationalists under Yeltsin; siloviki and economic liberals under Putin.

They also view Russia in terms of a tradition whereby every new tsar partly repudiates the legacy of his predecessor, creating a political thaw at the beginning of a new reign. Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization is Exhibit A.

Both methods were used to describe the Putin-Medvedev relationship ― to understand its nature and dynamic, and what it portends for Russia. But observers remain puzzled.

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Written by Nina Jobe

January 9, 2010 at 8:25 AM


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As I said before, I think Gudkov does a good job of giving us answers some of the questions we have all had over the years as to what Putinism really is (besides a response to Yeltsinism).

Here is what I gathered from the article:

Putinism is not Soviet Authoritarianism because…

1. Putinism does not have “the former monopoly of a party state” with “ideological control penetrating all social life.” …. Putin is “a bureaucrat ‘from the organs.”

2. …Putinism is not interested in or able to promote through “a mobilizing ideology” the “construction or ‘a new world’ or the formation of ‘a new man.’

3. …again in contrast to the Soviet system, Putin’s foreign policy is not directed at forming “a second ‘socialist camp’” but at most “the creation of a cordon sanitaire” against the West.

4. …his [Putin’s] regime does not feature the totalitarian competition of “terror, mass repressions and total propaganda.” Instead, it works to control the media “in proportion to the size of its audience – harsh for television, weak for print outlets, and largely still absent in the Internet.”

5. …“there is no centralized, plan-distribution economy.”

6. …the regime does not seek to close off society entirely from the world.

7. …there is no system of “cadres reserves,” although “the cadres of the special services in part” play the role of the former nomenklatura.

8. …far more than its Soviet predecessor, the Putin-era elite is far more “opportunistic” and would be quite prepared “to sell out the current leadership, as soon as the regime begins to shake,” thus making the collapse of the current regime far more likely and the probable reaction of the powers that be to any “shaking” far more spasmatic.

Putinism is similar to traditional authoritarianism.

1. it [Putinism] has “a quasi-paternalistic character,” reduces or degrades the public political sphere, and seeks to transform the government into “a technical apparatus for fulfilling ‘the will of the autocrat.’

2. …Putinism seeks to “strengthen ‘traditionalism,’ conservative interests and anti-modern orientations.”

3. …because loyalty is more important than competence for both, Putinism has lowered the quality of administrative officials at all levels.

4. Putinism promotes “the rapid growth of corruption, which has seized all spheres of the government structure,” a reflection of “the primitive (‘by hand’ character) of administration and the ineffectiveness of the state” and a feature that leads to even more “arbitrariness” by officials and alienation of the population.

But Putinism is not traditionally authoritarian.

1. “The ‘personalism’ of the regime is external. ‘Putin’ is not the creator of the regime but a pseudonym or nominal expression for the existing arrangement of forces in a narrow circle of people who have worked out and taken all important cadres and economic decisions.”

2. Putinism’s “personalism reflects the amorphousness or archaic quality of the Russian institutional system. Precisely this lack of differentiation is what people are referring to when they mistakenly speak about personal power [or] the concentration of power ‘in one set of hands.’”

3. …it promotes “imitative traditionalism” with “modernizing rhetoric,” even though it does not include within itself a variety of traditional elements like the Orthodox Church.

4. …[it] needs “elections as a plebiscite-type sanction of its legitimation.”

5. The distinguishing feature of the Putin regime is that “the political police are not so much an instrument for the powers that be as in fact the powers that be themselves,” one part of the bureaucracy which, “lacking counterweights and control works only for itself” and increasingly ignores anything but the specific interests of its component parts.

Gudkov’s Definition of Putinism:

‘Putinism,’ …is a system of decentralized use of the institutional resources of force retained by the force structures from the totalitarian regime but now made use of by the holders of power for securing their private, clan and group interests.

Written by Nina Jobe

December 17, 2009 at 6:55 PM

Putinism Defined

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Courtesy of Paul Goble.  I am reposting the whole article here, and in the next post I will outline Lev Gudkov’s views of what Putinism really is.  This article is excellent because it raises some good points, and answers some questions I believe we all have on what Putinism really is, and where it is going.

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Written by Nina Jobe

December 17, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Modernizing Television

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Excellent piece today by Alexei Pankin on why Medvedev’s modernization may fail.  Hi-lights:

Over the past few months, Medvedev is everywhere on television. But he almost always seems to be wearing a dour expression, which appears out of place with his boyish appearance….

What’s the fallout of having a president with a stiff, Brezhnev-like television image? On the same day Medvedev spoke at the journalism forum, Nezavisimaya Gazeta ran an article titled “Russians Unconvinced by Call for Modernization.” It reported the results of a survey showing that although everybody in Russia agrees with the need for modernization, only 5 percent of those questioned believed that the state was capable of driving this innovation. That degree of skepticism is clearly linked to the fact that the country lacks strong presidential leadership….

The risks are obvious. Russia cannot modernize unless television coverage of Medvedev is modernized. Otherwise, the people will never accept Medvedev as a real president. In the best-case scenario, he will maintain the image of a popular blogger.

Written by Nina Jobe

December 15, 2009 at 1:35 PM