Russian Politics, & Personalities

Posts Tagged ‘Vladimir Frolov

Oh Vladimir Frolov

leave a comment »

Somehow, Frolov always makes me laugh.  The latest?

When a Russian mind thinks up something truly innovative and useful for consumers — like Google, Yandex or Kaspersky antivirus software — it sells.

But no amount of image building will ever hide the fact that Russia has not yet mastered the art of designing a decent internal-combustion engine, a 19th-century technology.

Click on the link for the whole article.

Written by Nina Jobe

December 15, 2009 at 2:35 PM

Frolov’s Questions

leave a comment »

Before asking his questions this week, Frolov says:

…there is an innovative theory that suggests that Medvedev could still rule Russia even if his run for the second term fizzled out – he would become the ruler of “Russia 2.0,” the leader of choice for the most dynamic and vibrant part of Russian society – the “innovating class.” Vladimir Putin would continue to lead a “traditional Russia” and its economy of oil and gas.

Then he asks:

Will Medvedev’s “modernization” succeed? Is it mostly just talk, or will there be real action to reform and modernize Russia? Are there parallels with the way Gorbachev launched his “perestroika” in the mid-1980s? Would Medvedev, like Gorbachev, face the need to modernize Russia’s politics in order to modernize its economy? Would he be able to remain in the driver’s seat of his modernization agenda, or, like Gorbachev in the 1980s, be thrown off the ship he is trying to upgrade? Could Medvedev really “rule Russia 2.0” with Putin coming back to rule “Russia 1.0”?

Read the rest of this entry »

Stephen Blank

leave a comment »

Now that I have given my response to Frolov’s questions, I would like to hi-light what Stephen Blank has to say:

I cannot speak for public opinion, but this fraud was wholly unnecessary if we are to believe the claim that Medvedev and Putin are so popular. If that were the case, there would be no need for fraud. Undoubtedly, the case in question points to bureaucratic guidance from above, with superiors setting targets for lower officials, etc. But it also attests to the cynicism of the elites and to the fallaciousness if not mendacity of the utter nonsense we hear about Medvedev’s liberalism.

Alexander II’s reformers were more liberal and they were very much statist. Ultimately, this tells us that the ruling system in Russia is brittle, that the elites know it and will do anything to stay in power regardless of the consequences. They don’t care how it looks.

Medvedev, for all of his speeches, is still afraid to do anything concrete in the way of reforms. Still, I do think that we can see signs of the inertia of the Putin system (in the sense of a system moving along the same line it has previously followed until it can go no further). No doubt other analysts and regime flacks will come up with all kinds of justifications for the fact that we have here a perfect likeness of, in Max Weber’s terms, “pseudo-Schienkonstitutionalismus,” and this shows that despite everything that has happened in Russia, it has still to get beyond what Russian historians used to call the “June 3 System,” with reference to Nicholas II’s forcible dispersal of the first two Dumas in 1906 to 07. If Tsarism is the best Russia can do, we are in for a very dangerous period.

Written by Nina Jobe

October 23, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Frolov’s Questions of the Week

leave a comment »

are in response to the election fraud that took place last weekend.

Where does this leave Russia’s political system? Why was it necessary to engage in practices that might delegitimize the entire political process in order to secure a couple more seats for United Russia, which would have won the election anyway, albeit not with such astounding numbers? Why did Medvedev choose to defend United Russia’s fabricated results, instead of using the stolen election as a pretext to drive through his democratization agenda? What implications will it all have for United Russia and its grip on Russia’s political system? Does it reflect the voters’ dissatisfaction with the party of power, or is it just a consequence of the electorate’s apathy and lack of interest in representative government? Is it a sign of Putin’s political consensus coming apart at the seams, or is it just a temporary phenomenon that demonstrates the bureaucratic nature of Russia’s political system and its dependency on government bureaucracy for winning elections?

I’d like to try and post my own answers to some of these questions, rather than copying what everyone else says. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Nina Jobe

October 23, 2009 at 4:20 PM

Vladimir Frolov & Russia Profile

leave a comment »

Sorry that I have been so bad about posting these.  Here are Frolov’s questions for the week:

Does Medvedev deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for changing the tone and direction of international politics? Are his foreign policy accomplishments on a par with Obama’s? Is he perceived as a transformational world leader outside Russia? Is he a visionary in international affairs, with his proposals for a new security architecture in Europe and a new global financial architecture? Has he managed to bring new tone and style to Russia’s diplomacy and Russia’s approach to global issues, like WMD proliferation, global warming and financial stability? How does he fare internationally, compared to Obama?

I do not want to go into great detail, but most everybody laughed at Frolov.  Read it!

Written by Nina Jobe

October 22, 2009 at 4:35 PM

Vladimir Frolov, Nobel, & Medvedev

leave a comment »

When I read Vladimir Frolov’s latest to my sister, her first response was, “Is this satiracle?”  Strangely enough, I do not think that it is.  Vladimir Frolov seems entirely sincere here.

Why does Medvedev deserve the Nobel?  According to Frolov,

(1) “…Medvedev is responsible for changing the tone and direction of international politics to craft a better world.”

(2) “…Medvedev inherited a foreign policy plate that was driving his country into isolationism and debilitating self-pity.”

(3) “In fits and starts in less than two years, he has managed to transform Russia’s international role from that of an estranged spoiler to that of a constructive problem-solver with a stake in a functional world order. Medvedev has gradually steered Russia away from the unilateralist initiatives taken by his predecessor.”

(4) “[He] has worked to make international institutions — from the United Nations to the nascent Group of 20 — stronger and more efficient.  His more pragmatic position on Iran is likely to make global efforts to stop Tehran’s secretive nuclear program more effective.”

(5) “Medvedev commanded a successful war that was forced upon him. Like Obama in Afghanistan, he did not go wobbly in Georgia and proved his resolve to defend Russia’s interests and citizens. Medvedev’s toughest foreign policy decision has been to unilaterally recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia.”

(6) “Medvedev’s perseverance on this issue casts him as a world leader with a strong set of values. He does not crave popularity, just respect for his country.”

Wow… that’s definitely more impressive than Obama!

Written by Nina Jobe

October 12, 2009 at 5:32 PM

Vladimir Frolov & More

leave a comment »

I do not want to give too much weight to what Vladimir Frolov says, but I think that it is important to at least read what he has to say.  This week’s article actually takes what I said previously to a new level.  I believe that Medvedev’s article “Russia, Ahead!” was actually an appeal for legitimacy to the West in the run-up to UNGA, and G20 last week.  He wanted to be acknowledged as both a powerful player in Russian government, and a serious contender for 2012.  However, as Frolov points out, it ended up backfiring on him mostly due to timing.  Putin recognised what Medvedev was trying to do, and undermined him at Valdai by making what was essentially an announcement of his intent to run for President in 2012.

What I really have a problem with in this week’s article is Frolov’s patently false belief that these two men are in any way different from each other.  Of course they are different people, and they have different backgrounds, etc. But their ideology (such as it is) is essentially the same, Great Russia.

What continues to bother me is who Frolov is being paid by.  I think it is Big Brother (aka: Igor Sechin), but I am not entirely sure.

I would also like to draw your attention to Nikolai Petrov’s piece “The Virtual President”.  Some quotes:

…the Kremlin is both nervous and uncertain. The Kremlin realizes that it must finally do something to correct the situation but is unable and unwilling to do so. This realization is a break from its former state of self-complacency.

Two factors are compounding the problem — the desire of the authorities to preserve their high popularity ratings at any cost, and the paralysis of government officials who cannot take action without approval from the top.

I am not sure that the Kremlin is both unable and unwilling to make the appropriate changes to deal with the crisis.  They are definitely unwilling, but maybe what Petrov is trying to say is that it is too late to make any changes.

I thought that the conclusion was too great to pass up:

This is Russia’s latest risky experiment: the attempt to carry out Medvedev’s transition from a relatively unknown political figure to the country’s chief executive. Were it not for the crisis, the experiment might even be amusing. Under the current circumstances, however, it is a disaster waiting to happen.

Written by Nina Jobe

September 30, 2009 at 10:05 PM

Russia Profile

leave a comment »

I have had some trouble with Russia Profile the past few weeks, but I was finally able to get on today.  Here are some hi-lights from “Experts Panel” on the subject of Medvedev’s Gazeta article.

Frolov asked his panel:

Why now and why in such a format? What is Medvedev up to? Does it create the sense that he might be reaching the end of his powers to bring change to Russia? Or is it just a PR ploy to shore up public support for the Russian leader and help him push his agenda? Why is Medvedev so evasive about the implementation part of his plan for Russia? Why is he not putting forward any specific proposals to achieve his objectives, but limiting himself only to a very general description of a wonderful future to come? Who are the enemies of his modernization agenda that he vaguely refers to at the end of his essay – “entrenched bureaucracy and un-entrepreneurial entrepreneurs?” Do they have names? And where is Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in this equation?

Alexander Rahr: Medvedev now appeals to the younger generation of Russians to help him to introduce necessary liberal changes. He has no clear plan, he only wants to wake up reformist forces.

Eugene Kolesnikov: I see no principal difference between this manifesto and the completely detached and ultimately failed views held by the liberals in the 1990s. Western-style democracy will not take root in Russia. Liberal capitalism is not the best tool to modernize the country…. Dmitry Medvedev is pushing the country back into the 1990s…. Putin may play the savior, yet again, if Russia is lucky.

Ethan Burger has more to say:

Implicitly, he [Putin] continues to regard Medvedev as his creation and glorified errand runner. According to Putin, the present power-sharing arrangement has succeeded, even as the country continues to struggle. Is Putin correct in assuming that the Russian population plays no genuine role in the country’s political process other than ratifying their decisions?

….It is premature to accept prime minister Putin’s current vision as to what will be the situation in 2012. In his recent piece in Gazeta, president Medvedev wrote about Russia s ineffective economy, semi-Soviet social sphere, not yet institutionalized democracy, negative demographic tendencies, and an unstable Caucasus. Was he simply engaging in a calculated campaign of disinformation, and if this were the case, who is the intended target? Perhaps he was being candid and trying to ascertain the domestic and foreign response. This would suggest that he has grown in office; in any event, power (even if limited) is seductive.

….Lest it be forgotten, prime minister Putin serves at the pleasure of the president. If Medvedev feels that he has been and continues to be deliberately undermined, is it not conceivable that his attempts to distinguish himself from Putin are genuine?   Personally, I doubt the differences are merely symbolic, since their world views and backgrounds are so different.

Sergei Roy: If this was put forward as a claim to national leadership, it was an unmitigated flop. One good thing about it is, it makes the answer to the unasked question “Who is Medvedev?” much clearer.

Vladimir Balaeff has an interesting observation on the structure of the political structure:

…the block structure of the Russian federal executive branch is not patterned like its analog in Washington, D.C. (where there is no prime minister) but resembles more a modern American or European corporation, where the chairman of the board and his team defines strategic objectives and outlines strategic solutions, and the CEO with his team details out solution design and supervises implementation. Thus, Medvedev in this case is exercising his role of the corporate chairman of the board, and Putin would correspondingly perform his organizational role as the corporate CEO.

I want to post all of Stephen Blank’s response because it is so great, and I think what a lot of us felt about this article.

We have heard this all before and until there is real action I refuse to get excited.  Only if there is real policy change should anyone take this seriously.  Medvedev has been in power 18 months and done nothing to overcome these issues which are deeply entrenched in the system.

Undoubtedly, he is competing with Putin but it is also clear that he does not have the power to do anything about it.  That he makes these speeches now suggests he is playing to Western audiences, who Russian officials believe are terminally credulous about a new liberal wave in Russia.

If there is to be a new “perestroika” let us see him act.  Nice words about democracy, which he has done nothing to advance – quite the contrary, in fact – should not move anyone. As in other cases, actions speak louder than words.

I would also like to posit that Medvedev’s article was yet another plea for legitimacy by the President in the run-up to the UN General Assembly, and G20.

Frolov’s Article

leave a comment »

I find Frolov’s piece a little offensive.  I am not sure why because in many ways he says the same thing that Ryzhkov says.  And in many ways, I agree with what both of them say.  Medvedev’s five points for improving the economy were somewhat inspired.  After that initial impression, however, I thought, ‘this is all pie in the sky.  How does he intend to do this?  In order for any of this to truly be successful, he would need to go in and totally reform the education system, and that’s just for starters.’

I am still not sure what Medvedev’s goal was in publishing this article.  He is appealing (again) to a very small sector of society.  Admittedly an important sector, but still very small.  And the President admits this when he says that 2/3 of society live in rural areas.  These rural areas that he refers to may have television, but very few of them have Internet access (the only place this article was published, as far as I can determine).

Again, this was a teaser for the speech to the Duma in 2 months (btw: I still do not understand why the speech is in November now).  I think we can expect something big to happen then.

P.S. I am sure we will get some good responses to Frolov’s piece on Friday over at Russia Profile, and I will post excerpts then.

Written by Nina Jobe

September 15, 2009 at 4:29 PM

Vladimir Frolov

leave a comment »

I have to confess that I was rather surprised by this article.  Vladimir Frolov writes a column every week or so about the Tandemocracy in The Moscow Times.  He also has a longer version of the column on Russia Profile.  In general, Frolov comes down on the side of Putin, and makes harsh statements on the Medvedev Administration’s deficiencies.  It has long been suspected that Frolov is in the pay of someone in Putin’s circle.  

That being said, this week’s column, while not being overly severe, does not entirely reflect the attitude that I have come to expect from Frolov.

He begins by crediting Putin with things that I would not. “…defeating the militant Chechen insurgency, bringing the regional baron-governors to heel, gradually rebuilding a functioning Russian state, destroying the oligarchic grip on power and resources and restoring the people’s confidence in the country and its future.”  

Honestly, I am not sure that any of those things are true.  There have been specific cases within the past 2 months or so that disprove every single one of those so-called achievements.  The “insurgency” just claimed several terrorist attacks around Russia, and the Caucasus.  Granted, there are doubts that they had a role in the accident in Siberia, but you cannot deny that the resurrection of  “Riyadus-Salikhiyn Shahid” unmasks Frolov’s claim as a lie.  I could go on and on debunking these claims, but I think that most of them are obvious.

But it is Frolov’s final question in Russia Profile that I wonder about.  “What is, if there ever was one, Putin’s “exit strategy”?” I doubt that even Putin knows that anymore.

Written by Nina Jobe

August 30, 2009 at 11:54 PM