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В оформлении сайта использована живопись и графика Михаила Молибога

Переводы | Antirevolutionary

Oligarchy is busy with its work. They do not need neither great shocks nor great Russia. Putin is a guarantor of the fact that neither of this will happen. And the point here is not in his personality. The change of “the emperor” itself would not change the principle. Any other person, who appears in this position while modern oligarchy exists and reproduces itself, maybe with certain superficial mutations, will develop generally Putin’s politics. It will remind us that soviet cartoon fairytale about a boy who vanquished a dragon but later turned into the same dragon himself.



I did not tell him to be for the system. I am not in the system myself.
No matter system or not. Just keep building.
If you cannot build – keep singing.
If you aren’t singing – don’t spit.
I am not a hero. You are not blind.
Take your country.

Aleksandr Bashlachev, “Event in Siberia”


1. The statement, that Putin “destroyed the politics” as well as “the democracy” has already become a common place in the critique of the regime. …

2. In the middle of the nineties a non-democratic political regime was developed, which can be defined as competitive oligarchy. …

3. Describing Putin’s regime, publicists and political scientists often use a term “controlled democracy”. ...

4. The new political regime built by Putin and Voloshin, who acted under his name until 2003, can be defined as consensus oligarchy or loyalists’ oligarchy.

5. The law about political parties in 2000 introduced serious limits on the political market, probably, the most significant one is a requirement to confirm not less than 10 000 people as the members of the party (in the end of the previous year “the party minimum” was five times increased). ...

6. The votes of “Putin’s majority”, that has been called “moral” by Surkov for some reason, are and will be canvassed by “United Russia”. ...

7. “The revolution of roses” in Georgia and “the orange revolution” in Ukraine, as it is widely said, have disproved the mythological impossibility of political changes in Russia, that the Post-Soviet space is populated with people who lost their passion, ready to suffer any authorities for doubtful stability. …


The statement, that Putin “destroyed the politics” as well as “the democracy, became a common place in the critique of the regime a long time ago. However, when their arguments are examined, in 99 cases out of 100 it is found out that “the politics” in their opinion first of all means the participation – their own or of their friends – in “the state affairs”, to be more exact, their access to positions, tribunes, TV shows. And the talk about “the democracy” after the second minute is reduced to nostalgia and tears over the rules of the 1990-ies. In general, "my youth, did you pass or not?”


Of course, it is not necessary to explain here in details what “politics” and “democracy” means, this is a topic for another discussion. However, it is obvious that in plots like “Grisha and Borya spent a day in the Duma and went to NTV with “Daddy Zyu” in the evening” it is not the question that much of the politics, as of to get-together. Many people can object that the politics is the first of all communication and that is why is automatically supposed to have a “get together” concept. We can only partially agree to this. Political communication anyhow pursues certain external purposes, not that important which one of them – “grandiloquent” or typically personal. For instance, exaggerating, to build capitalism in Russia, or to provoke the war between China and Taiwan, or at least to redistribute some kind of property. While “the political company”, especially as having been formed by 1999-2000, basically simply reproduced itself. In this point of view, the politics in Russia hasn’t disappeared anywhere; it just became marginal and boring. And it is not certain, that somebody else but this very company suffered from this.

It is time to remember that since the times of Aristotle and Polybius, “democracy” was understood as organization of power via direct national government and wide national representation. Everything else isfar-fetched. In recent Russian history, representation in power, relatively adequate to mass mood, took place only in the end of 1980-ies – the beginning of 1990-ies, after free elections to the Soviets were declared. They were removed by Yeltsin and his allies in 1993, and soon politic technologies became very popular in Russia, allowing managing the elections together with good old administrative resource.

You can’t help laughing when among those who are sobbing over “the democracy”, ostensibly crushed with “a chekist boot”, we can watch those who were applauding on October 4, 1993 when the building of the Supreme Soviet and those who were invoking the country to “vote with their heart” in the summer of 1996. Especially when they are sobbing in the company of those who were in the White House in 1993. It is hard to believe that any normal person, who does not have memory problems, will share the grief of these losers and swindlers, who lost principles, conscience and shame long time ago.

It is not less entertaining to listen to the accusations addressed to Putin concerning his unseemly attitude to Yeltsin’s Constitution. It is better not to recollect how Yeltsin dealt with the Constitution of 1978 and how his own Constitution was developed and passed.

Of course, there hasn’t become more democracy in Russia over the recent years. But there has become less of it neither. Actually, something that didn’t exist cannot disappear.


In the middle of the nineties a non-democratic political regime was developed, which can be defined as competitive oligarchy. It assumed existence of a particular number of comparatively independent clans, coalitions, clienteles and separate figures competing for property, political influence, and other resources. Thus none of them took the leading position; this, combined with irresponsibility and absence of control, set permanent instability, which, in case of certain insanity, could possibly have been taken for “dynamics”.

I don’t agree with Stanislav Belkovsky and his co-authors of the report “The State and the Oligarchy”, who define oligarchs as necessarily physical figures whose numbers is “stable over time” and draw a parallel between Russian reality and the history of Venice Republic in 13-18th centuries (with its “Council of Ten” and so forth). The present reality is more complicated and dynamical, oligarchs can be and have always been both physical figures and collective subjects (“the group of Vyakhirev” in “Gazprom”, for instance), and the structure of oligarchy is and has been changing from time to time; the most serious rotation took place after the default of 1998. Besides an oligarch is not necessarily an outstanding capitalist.

Oligarchs can have official status, even a state position, and legally control (manage, own) certain structures and resources as well as control them half-legally or informally. Here are the main characteristics of an oligarch: a) owning a large amount of controlled property (private, state, combination) or legal powers allowing to redistribute such property or at least to take part in such a redistribution, b) participation in state government following mostly personal, clan or corporate interests, c) representation in public sphere, possibly mediated (through mass media, parties, community organizations, and so forth).

The opposition of “power” and “business” has already become a common place. It is postulated that they have principally different interests. Moreover, it comes to primitiveness when officials are presented as bad guys and the businessmen – as their innocent victims. This doesn’t conform to the reality at all.

First. All major Russian business was formed due to purposeful politics of Yeltsin, Chernomyrdin, Chubais, and so forth. All the “captains of the business” are either directly appointed or their “self-promotion” has been coordinated. This scheme was executed on regional and municipal levels. Appearance of “non-system” people, usually “authoritative businessmen”, like Bykov in Krasnoyarsk or Fedulev in Sverdlovsk, who concentrated whole industrial conglomerates under their control in the beginning of the nineties, was an exception proving the rule.

Second. The only success of the liberal project was in desacralization of the state. The crush of the USSR and establishment of new Russia was accompanied by cultivation of individualistic ethics and groundless critics of all traditions of Russian and Soviet statehood. The concepts “duty” and “service” completely devaluated. In a combination with opening of the channels of private enterprise initiative, openly professing antistate ideology, and with the absence of adequate anticorruption mechanisms it resulted in total decomposition of bureaucracy. Instead of “the state as a supplier of services” dreamed of by naive liberals, compact and clear, multiple private and corporate crafts appeared, performing the services to all interested people in individual order. An official turned into a business men, entrepreneur, that is, the subject whose activity is aimed at receiving the profit. As Maxim Sokolov noticed, “Leviafan went away.”


The arguments about “administrative pressure over business” and “increasing role of the state in economics” can resist no critique. Of course, the pressure exists, but, as a rule, it is not “the administrative”, that is, it does not pursue any conducting purposes in reality. Officials’ corporations (naturally, the major power belongs to the police and fiscal sphere) are lobbying the preservation or establishment of new barriers on the markets, first of all, in mercenary interests.


The third and the main. Officials did not only patronize the businessmen, collect bribes, and “give orders”. They were actively engaged in business themselves in the traditional meaning of this word. I personally know dozens of high-ranking officials who earn their living not only and not mostly by bribes and embezzlement of public funds, but by the income from companies owned and co-owned by them. In papers their property can belong to wives, children, relatives, their trustees can manage it, but the final beneficiaries, that is the real owners, are sitting in the public offices all around the country from Kaliningrad to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski. A whole lot of successful entrepreneurs, who are presenting themselves as “self made men” in interviews to Expert or Forbes, have actually succeeded exclusively due to relations with obscure business-partners occupying positions of high power. I am sure that these can be found even in companies boasting of their openness.

Surely with time individual businessmen have started delegating representatives into the power and started taking state positions themselves. But the opposite process had effect, too – the officials left positions to manage their legal or “covered” business. Some of them have already turned back and forth several times. If a powerful official does not have his own business, the only reason for it is his own wish. Trying to determine, where “the business” ends and “the power” starts, results in necessity to remember the formula of Isaac Babel: “the police starts where Benya ends”, that is to admit that one is a continuation of another.


Of course, I am exaggerating. There are many thousands of tiny “commerces”, trading on markets or repairing cars, and thousands of “Akakiy Akakievich”, whose signature doesn’t cost anything. But there are heads of Regional Departments of Internal Affairs (ROVD) owning alcohol factories, and mayors, “holding” markets in their cities, and capitalist ministers.

So Victor Pelevin, who offered to symbolize Russian oligarchy as uroboros (alchemic image of a snake biting its own tail), has hit the nail. By the way, he is right noticing that “in our case more of urological associations appear”…

Competitive oligarchy by implication looks like an acceptable ersatz of democracy that is “freedom of few” as a prologue to “freedom of all”. Although after the elections of 1996 it had already been clear that introduction of “freedom for all” was being postponed for an unlimited period of time (I am not saying that Zyuganov should have been elected, I am saying that we should call things by their proper names). On this background out-of-limit things were happening, like mortgage auctions, creation of the State Credit Obligations (GKO) market, of “informational wars” on national TV channels, and sincere confessions of Berezovsky in his participation in appointing and dismissing the ministers. The country had not suffered a worse shame since the times of the Civil war. Oligarchs (including the “state” ones – like Luzhkov or Chubais) conflicting with each other created the visibility of the appeal to public opinion, the mass media’s influence pronounced as “the freedom of speech” was naturally flourishing, and so on. Personal features were imposed upon all these things by the first president Yeltsin, who assigned imperial powers but did not usually use even half of them due to a whole number of reasons.


It was clear that this “Disneyland” could not be continued forever. An “arbitrator”, to be more exact, a “sheriff”, or, the best one, an “imperor” was needed, who would put things in order inside of the elite from side, and would act as its legitimator from the other side. This is how oligarchs figured out themselves; by that moment most of them had finally understood that the western elite would still not accept them for a long time, that they have no other country than “the land of great opportunities” and it is better to provide at least the visibility of the order here. Of course, at that time, too, there were the “prophets of freedom” who were explaining like biblical Samuel that the emperor “will take your best gardens […] and will take a tenth part of your crops and grape gardens and will give it to his eunuchs and his servants.” But Russian elite was answering like ancient Jews: “No, let the emperor be above us.” The collective oligarchic mind decided to give part of their freedom up for stability. Otherwise how should it be explained, that practically all of the oligarchs then participated in the projects of two claimants to the throne – the candidate from Yeltsin’s “family”, Putin, and the tandem of Primakov and Luzhkov (following the witty remark of Dmitry Bykov, the first one was supposed to play the role of “garnish”)?

Is it necessary to explain, that such conditions caused the termination of public oligarchic “competitions” with the only difference that Luzhkov would have performed “the verticalization” even in a more traditional way?



Describing Putin’s regime, publicists and political scientists often use a term “controlled democracy”. Thus they use it literally, meaning that Kremlin, that is Putin and his administration, being covered by high rating and results of the elections have pulled all the powers and resources to themselves, that is, created a power monopoly – tyranny. The most impressive commentators have already spoken of dictatorship.

Visually it really seems to be like that. All the capable force resource has been put under direct control of Kremlin. During the last one and a half year a uniform order of licensing of political activity has been introduced, its main operator is the “United Russia” party. Propresidential majority in State Duma has been registered under this name, a similarity of a vertical of legislative power has been also created – the “edinoross” fractions have been created in regional parliaments. New rules of registration of political parties and performing the referenda have been introduced, they help to shut down any political project, not favored by the authorities, on any stage of its development. Direct elections of the heads of regions and the elections of the deputies to State Duma by the majority system have been canceled; this facilitates the management of political processes and minimizes the risk of non-system figures breaking into the power. These initiatives have not been resisted to by regional leaders and one-mandate deputies. And just before that the regionalists have submissively accepted redistribution of income sources and accounting powers, unprofitable for them. Supreme qualifying board of judges approved the appointment of “Gasprom” figure Anton Ivanov, who had not spent a single day of his life working as a judge, to the position of the chairman of Supreme arbitration court – this symbolizes the judges rejecting the corporate autonomy. National TV channels have been put under control.

But is it truly a monopoly or even a dictatorship? Do Putin and his assistants truly rule everything?

First, Putin received the supreme authority, to put it mildly, unexpectedly, he had not been through a long workshop and selection (called “the school” in soviet times), as the same Yeltsin, and has not been allocated with his blind will. These are the reasons for the “roughness” of Putin’s power. Probably, Belkovsky is right considering that authority is a burden to Putin. But more likely the point is that he was not ready to receiving this authority and still does not understand how to deal with it in the right way.

Second, there are limits to the possibilities of a single person. Putin is not governing Syracuse, where one person could somehow keep track of everything. In Russian conditions if he took upon himself, even with his assistants, decision-making on everything and for everybody, it all would quickly result in physical and psychic exhaustion.

Third, we should not exaggerate intellectual level and teamwork skills of the kremlins: they do not have and have never had coordinated plans of actions, and many decisions, even quite lucky ones, have clearly been taken in a reactive order.

So there is no existing monopoly. All the more there is no dictatorship. It can be maintained in Russia only by means of terror, this fact is proved by the experience of Stalin, who was a dictator, and all his successors, who were not dictators. Terror supposes victims, moreover, numerous victims. I am ready to believe that Putin is a “dictator” if his victims are presented. I am not accepting Berezovsky and Babitsky as victims.

In Russia, in spite of the presence of “the emperor”, there is no and can be no Aristotle’s “government of the one”, that is tyranny, autocracy, and so forth, because it is principally impossible in modern and, moreover, specifically Russian context. There can probably be “government of the few”. And in the time of Putin, regardless of the expectations, no radical rotation of oligarchy occurred. Most of the “heroes” of Yeltsin’s epoch have survived and are prospering. Surely, new oligarchs, new coalitions have appeared, as it had been predicted, “emperor’s eunuchs” have received their “tenth part”. But there is nothing surprising and especially nothing terrible in it, if we recollect the amount of resources owned by Yeltsin’s “family”, now broken apart. We can be as outraged as we wish, but Abramovich and Sechin have no substantial differences, there are only stylistic ones, and they can be easily leveled.



The new political regime built by Putin and Voloshin, who acted under his name until 2003, can be defined as consensus oligarchy or loyalists’ oligarch. It is a system of corporations, clienteles, coalitions of officials, important businessmen, top-managers, politics, united by the private charter of the loyalty to the president, whom they delegated to elaborate the framework ideas for the development of the state, to form the institutions and to maintain order, including order inside the oligarchic community. But making decisions on the majority of everyday problems, first of all, on redistribution of the resources, is still kept in hands of oligarchs and the subjects involved in their orbits. Many of them have even expanded these orbits. Nobody “equidistancionated” anybody from the power (as Vladimir Pribylovsky jested wittily, “oligarchs at equidistance from the power are like hockey players at equidistance from the hockey”), only the rules of the game have changed, they have become more technologic. Putin is an oligarch himself, too, just more equal, than the others.

To say, that all the participants of “Putin’s charter” joined it voluntarily, would mean to commit a sin against the truth. You see, not everybody was fighting at Putin’s side in 1999. But idem Luzhkov is still governing Moscow as he did earlier, and, judging by his recent announcements, is not afraid of anything. One victim – Khodorkovsky and his team counterweighted by Alekperov (LUKOIL), Potanin (Interros), Lisin (NLMK), Deripaska (Basic Element, Russian Aluminum, Ruspromavto), Fridman (Alpha Group, TNK-BP) Vekselberg (SUAL-Holding, TNK-BP, Renova), Bogdanov (Surgutneftegaz), Mordashov (Severstal), Rashnikov (MMK), Evtushenkov (Sistema), Melnichenko (SUEK) and other large-scaled industrialists, who in the time of Putin have consolidated their positions on the markets, have acquired new actives and have increased – many of them substantively – their personal fortune. Without Putin and his guarantees as of a head of the state nobody of them would never have been able to run business with foreign partners. The will not let well alone. And the reason is not only in some fear to repeat the fate of those who refused to join the charter (Gusinsky) or those who provoked their expulsion from it (Berezovsky, the idem group of Khodorkovsky).

Oligarchy is busy with its work. They do not need neither great shocks nor great Russia. Putin is a guarantor of the fact that neither of this will happen. And the point here is not in his personality. The change of “the emperor” itself would not change the principle. Any other person, who appears in this position while modern oligarchy exists and reproduces itself, maybe with certain superficial mutations, will develop generally Putin’s politics. It will remind us that soviet cartoon fairytale about a boy who vanquished a dragon but later turned into the same dragon himself.

Of course, internal competition, particularly political one, between the participants of “Putin’s charter” exists. Here is the primary example: when elections to State Duma were held, idem “Gasprom” had his own, regardless of Putin’s one, list of one-mandate candidates whose financing was coordinated with certain officials of the president’s administrations, and this list had significant differences from the list of one-mandate candidates, promoted or supported by “United Russia”. Many plots are known, when large-scale corporations funded the “edinoross” candidates of the opposition on regional elections. And what fuss is made over the distribution of ministers’ positions… Putin’s oligarchs can have not only conflicts but open collisions, like the “forest war” of Deripaska and Kogan agains “Ilip Pulp” or the war over “Megafon” between “Alpha Group” and minister Reiman and his pals. But this does not abolish the strategic consensus concerning the main questions.

It is the same in 2000, as it was in the nineties: ones first earn their property and then go into the power, the others first acquire positions in state machinery or state monopolies and then, using them, start saving up a capital. Last year all of them broke records of shamelessness. Chelsea Club was bought by a governor of one of 89 Russian regions, who did not even try to conceal his personal participation in all negotiations concerning the upcoming merger of Sibneft, owned by him, with YUKOS. “All of you know really well how […] in the beginning of the nineties […] resorting to various tricks, many participants of the market then were getting multimilliard state property, - Putin declared answering the request to comment the transfer of Yuganskneftegaz to Rosneft. – Today the state, using perfectly legal market mechanisms, secures its interests.” Khodorkovsky in his second prison article “Property and Freedom” due to understandable reasons expressed his thoughts more sincerely and honestly. “The case of YUKOS is by no means a conflict of the state with the business, but a politically and commercially motivated attack of one business […] at the other, - Khodorkovsky says. – The state here represents the interests of physical figures, even if they are given the authority of state officials.”

The loyalists are generally satisfied with present State Duma with “United Russia”, and Council of Federation, and even with Fradkov’s government, where they have their own quotas and representation; they also accepted the new procedure of elections of the heads of the regions. Nobody will discharge the powerful heads-oligarchs like Ishaev, Chub or Tuleev, they will be given a chance to be reelected according to the new procedure so that their number of terms of office will be annulated. Is it not a reason for happiness? As for instable heads, many of them will also be safely reelected. They are grateful to Putin for saving them from direct elections which they could lose like Yefremov in Arkhangelsk or Mikhailov in Pskov. Only the most odious figures or those who have gained too many system opponents will have to go. But they have been condemned anyway. Those who have been coveting their regions now will be able to “solve the question” without wasting money on election campaigns.


On the regional level oligarchy is still the most popular form of political regime. Besides consensus oligarchies started being formed in province in the very beginning of the nineties, quite often as a result of reformation of soviet-party oligarchies. Tatarstan, which is still governed by Shaymiev, in past the fist secretary of Tatar Republic Committee of CPSU, can be considered a good model. “Sturdy masters” like Luzhkov and especially Tuleev, a prominent charismatic tribune, also managed to unite the elite in their “charter”.

However, a whole number of examples is known, when consensus oligarchies were transformed into oligarchies with certain elements of tyranny. This happened when a formal head of the region, “the main oligarch” at the same time, consolidate all or nearly all resources under his direct control. Rakhimov in Bashkiria, Ilumzhinov in Kalmykia are experienced tyrants in this sense. In different periods of time Ayatskov in Saratov, Tsvetkov in Magadan, Mari Kislitsyn, Nazdratenko in Primorye, and many other were also on the trajectory of transforming into tyrants, but intervention of federal actors interrupted their degeneration.

Competitive oligarchies were formed in places where the concentration of power recourses and property control was either impossible due to objective reasons or corresponding attempts were not successful. Thus, in polyethnic Dagestan or Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district, where several oil concerns are working and many powerful mayors dwell, a head of a region can be, in the best case, primus inter pares. Frequently governors’ claims were faced with resistance and even counter claims of mayors heading the rich cities, owners or top-managers of large-scale industries, army officials, criminal authorities. In Sverdlovsk governor Rossel and Yekaterinburg mayor Chernetsky had been fighting for nearly ten years, as a result both of them had to admit the draw of the game. Krasnoyarsk governors of the nineties – Veprev, as well as Zubov and senior Lebed – had to reconcile themselves with the autonomy of Norilsk industrial region. The recent history of regions of Nizhniy Novgorod, Samara, Chelyabinsk, Perm, Irkutsk represents an endless sequence of interoligarchic pacts, conflicts and redistributions.

Separate regions in the time of fifteen years went through a transformation of competitive oligarchies into consensus ones (Mordovia, Novgorod region), as well as transformations of the consensus ones into competitive (Lipetsk, Ulyanovsk region).

It is important to pay attention to the fact that a regional oligarch may be federal at the same time (like Luzhkov or the owners of Samara group “SOK”), or may be not. It depends on the volume of controlled resources and personal claims of an oligarch.

Starting from the second half of the nineties federal oligarchy started their campaign in the province. At that very moment direct elections of the heads of the regions were introduced, and the “federals” started participating actively in them – financing and protecting certain candidates from the number of local figures. For instance, Maksyuta was elected as the governor of Volgograd in 1996 with support of LUKOIL (and reelected in 2000 and 2004), and Alpha Group in 1999 helped to Chernyshev in getting elected as the governor of Orenburg. After the victory sponsors received privileges for their business as well as quotas in administrations and governments. Naturally, this decreased the field for the game played by regional elite. From other side, strong regionalists, like Tkachev in Krasnodar or Yugro-Tyumenian Sobyanin, integrated into federal oligarchy during these processes.

In time of Putin a “fashion” of “takeovers” and “purchases” of regions, when large-scale capitalists, their collaborators or simply rich people with relations started nominating for elections. Abramovich got elected in Chukotka, Shtyrov (ALROSA) in Yakutia, Khloponin (Interros) in Taimyr and later in Krasnoyarsk, Zolotarev (YUKOS) in Evenkia. In 2002 Sovmen, Siberian owner of gold-mines, practically bought his presidency over his motherland in Adygea, in 2004 ex-interros person Zelenin “occupied” Tver region.

Is it necessary to explain, that completely similar processes were taking place on the local level?


The law about political parties in 2000 introduced serious limits on the political market, probably, the most significant one is a requirement to confirm not less than 10 000 people as the members of the party (in the end of the previous year “the party minimum” was five times increased). From the very beginning these measures were presented by authorities as necessary ones for cultivating of mass public federal parties. Concerning this Mikhail Afanasyev in his article “Five reasons to vote against all parties”, published in September of 2003 in “The Expert”, fairly noticed that “mass parties are the yesterday of the world’s political process” and “in developed countries, on the contrary, “defrosting” of previously stable party systems, washing out of ideological identities, decreasing the number of the party members, increasing the fluctuation of the votes at the elections, marketization of public politics”. “Our “educated” bureaucrats are marching under the flag of progress, but in the opposite direction,” Afanasyev states.

In my point of view it is still worth trying to create a mass party in Russia. It’s quite another matter that nobody needs it, including the authorities. First, it is a very expensive way of entertainment; second, in case of success you gain risk to live through experience of rabbi Lev and doctor Frankenstein. So all the gossips concerning the “strong”, that is mass federal, parties are still only the gossips.

In reality, the idem authorities want to have a disciplined and well coordinated organization structure covering the whole country, which could be rapidly mobilized for elective and propaganda campaigns. Such a structure is being launched with variable success basing on “United Russia”. This project is not anyhow related to mass parties of industrial epochs, especially to the “pagan church” of CPSU, no matter what people say. It is quite possible that one of the “edinoross” leaders might believe that he is truly restoring CPSU. But he will be quickly removed out of sight, like unlucky Bespalov, the first “edinoross” general secretary.

All the recent years the president’s administration, together with Veshnyakov’s Central Elective Committee, has been decreasing the number of participants in the party and elective segments in political market and has been concentrating maximum of regulative powers under their control. So that no surprises would happen. This goal was also a reason for the ban against the creation of regional parties, deprivation of the right to participate in elections to the federal authority agencies for the public associations, establishment of “the party minimum”, and so forth.

But even these limitations in practice turned out to be quite surmountable for professionals, and about 40 parties were registered for the elections of 2003, most of these parties can hardly be called political, they are rather definitely commercial projects. Of course, they didn’t make their way through to State Duma, but some of them managed to raise money from short-sighted investors, some of them launched dealing in their brands for those who wanted to participate in regional elections, creating the competition for “real” parties. But a stop is being putto this business. With a “party minimum” of 50 thousand it is practically impossible to reregister a “fake” party that in fact consists of the leader of the party, several assistants and a number of people with stamps of regional departments. And considering the 7-percent barrier for passing into State Duma and the ban against creation of blocks, including regional elections, such campaigns become unprofitable.

Afanasyev also wrote, that postindustrial sociality and new communications “define a new type of political enterprise, oriented not at inertial ideology, but at dynamical ideas…” and “a party as a stable organization […] is turning into an interactive PR-project which is developed, promoted and reformed depending on the conjuncture of the political market”. It is right, it is just hard to understand his attacks of rough critique against Russian party market, which participants supply not “politics” but “rhetoric”, performing PR requests of the president’s administration and the oligarchs and dealing in brands, positions in the lists and regional departments. It all comes to the fact that Russia is going ahead of the whole world, besides, the idem western countries should be just expecting the products of the “postindustrial sociality”…

The majority of political enterprises in the recent history of Russia in reality have never been ideological, that is, neither left nor right, neither conservative nor liberal, but specifically of conjuncture kind, that is why, ideologically-eclectic. CPRF, “United Russia”, “Rodina”, SPS and “Yabloko” – all of these are PR projects launched and formatted for federal elections by professional politicians and officials, private investors and political consultants. They are truly producing and dealing in rhetoric – various populist “mixes” designed for corresponding groups of electorate. Basic components consist of patriotic (“Russia is great power!”), social (“Take away and punish!”) and liberal (“Go West!”) populism. This is how it was in Yeltsin’s time; the same is now in Putin’s time.

Let us take, for instance, a party that is considered to be “real” – CPRF. It is usually recognized as a left-wing party, it is identifying itself as an assignee not only of CPSU, but of Bolsheviks and is constantly proposing social claims wrapped in the vocabulary of Marx and Lenin. At the same time the communist party is constantly promoting sovereignty, statehood, Russian history, patriotism, Orthodoxy as their values. This does not conform to the left-wing ideological scope anyhow, this is a classical right party patriotic discourse. Such “Black-Hundredness” would have made Lenin feel sick. Aleksandr Dugin in his article “CPRF and Eurasiality” also paid attention to the fact that Zyuganov is capable of expressing his opinion, without taking a breath, on the necessary revision of the results of privatization and on tax reduction (and the communist fraction in State Duma voted for tax reduction not once). The question of taxes has always been a reliable criterion of the difference between the right and the left. The right, it they are truly right, are fighting for tax reduction, not for its increase, the left – vice versa. “It is hard to imagine “an Orthodox Marxist”, but it is totally impossible to imagine a “left” upholder of tax reduction”, - Dugin says. I am not even talking about the fact that since last year CPRF have been openly rising in opposition to the state on the side of YUKOS, which co-owners sponsored the party, conflicting with the statement of the party program about nationalization of the property “stolen from the nation”.

Not only CPRF cannot be recognized as a left party, “Rodina” and the whole conglomerate of seemingly “rosy” parties like the agrarians, nationalists or “pensioners”, which are not related with soviet communists with any formal cognation, but not less than CPRF exploiting the patriotic mythology, cannot be recognized as one neither.

SPS (Union of Right Forces) is first of all a west-oriented party and it is logical to describe them in terms of western political vocabulary. In fact, the basis of the social-economical program of SPS is not at all liberal, but conservative. Modern conservatism was formed in 1970-1980 basing on the synthesis of the right traditionalistic “views of the world” and the principles of free market, adopted from the liberals of the 19th century (but certainly not of the 20th century, by that time the liberals had already reconsidered their theory of “the invisible hand” and declared not the state but monopolies to be their main enemy) and was practically realized in “Reaganomics” and “Thatcherism”. Everything else, including the views on the morality, patriotism, history, religion, was borrowed by the ideologists of SPS from “the left” – modern liberals and even libertarians and socialists, that is, from the historical opponents of the conservatives. Of course, Nemtsov and Khakamada haven’t come to the point of offering to legalize unisexual marriages in Russia, but organizing a rock concert on Maundy Thursday (April 24, 2003) made the “right” party scandalously famous. Sarcastic Maxim Sokolov surmised once, that SPS had been built as “antiCPRF”: “If CPRF inclines to peasantry and traditionalism – the right [SPS] are supposed to emphasize their opposite qualities. If CPRF has some suspicions concerning western politics – the right are supposed to believe to the West more than to themselves. If CPRF refers to God – the right are supposed if not to say directly, but at least to distinctly imply that any god is an ideological assassination.” However, so-called “right liberals” appeared as the output.

The persistent ascription of “Yabloko” to the right parties cannot be explained by anything but the ignorance of “the experts”. By the way, “Yabloko” have been less omnivorous of all party projects that left their trace in the recent history of Russia. All they did was mixing modern liberalism (social-liberalism) with socialism. However, Mitrokhin, the deputy of Yavlinsky, has recently declared their willingness to accept to “Yabloko” all the “glazyevts” and communists who repudiate Stalin. Obviously, it won’t be necessary for the new members of “Yabloko” to repudiate the ideas of revision of the results of privatization or ideas of “natural rent” payments.

There is nothing to say regarding “United Russia”, because centrism is declared as their ideology by themselves. And what is “centrism”? It is an eternal “can I do something for you”.

It would not be right to suspect the political class of Russia that they do not know where the right and the left is, like Pelageya, a little girl in “Dead Souls”. All of them know it; they just manufacture the marketable product. The real left, the real right, the real liberals, the real nationalists are not popular and have been ejected to the marginals.


The votes of “Putin’s majority”, that has been called “moral” by Surkov, are and will be canvassed by “United Russia”. The “edinoross”, being publicly affiliated with authorities, are completely not suitable for consolidation of protestants.

Protestants, the present as well as the potential ones, can be conditionally subdivided into three groups. The first one is the destitute protestants, that is the pensioners, workers, petty officials, military people, that is generally those who are cynically called “common folk” by political consultants. They suffer from the constant rise in prices and in communal tariffs, monetization of social benefits has harshly hit the interests of many of them, they are horrified expecting the reforms of public health and education systems, because they know that they will suffer from them.

The second group – the patriotic protestants – partially intersects the first one. They also include many successful people who have easily blended in with the modern reality, ascribed to “the middle class” and even to the elite. The patriots have quite different attitude to Orthodoxy, nationalism, certain periods of native history, different notions of “the great future”, some of them reckon Stalin as a saint, the others – as a devil. But all of them are united with increasing aversion to the present. Especially the patriots are not satisfied with the international status of the country, they are indignant with Putin who yields to the West quite often and quite a lot, closes down military bases abroad and makes territorial concessions, carries out an insufficiently lenient policy regarding the “ungrateful” Baltic countries and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States). They are aggravated with the fact that he has not reconciled the Chechens yet, does not fight with migration of Caucasians, Asians and Chinese, and so forth.

The third group is significantly smaller in number than the first two. The liberal protestants hate Putin for that fact that he supposedly destroyed “the democracy”, does not carry out any radical reforms, is lenient toward the patriots and stylizes his government to the “late sovok” (late soviet period). Not all of them, but their overwhelming majority idealize the nineties, practically all of them agree upon worshiping what they call “the West” and “western values”.

Judging by the current policy of the authorities and the announced plans, by 2007 all the three groups will have been presented enough reasons for resentment. I am not a sociologist and will not juggle with figures, but it is clear without any surveys and calculations, that there will appear more protestants, most of all among the destitute and the patriots, than now. If unpopular Gryzlov is assigned to the position of Putin’s successor, which is more and more spoken about, there will be even more protestants.

Who and by means of what project will canvass the protestants? The answer to the question “who” depends on the condition, if Kremlin manages to avoid the dissent of “Putin’s charter” or not. Or will the scenario be played multiplying the plots of collision between Yeltsin’s “family” and Luzhkov-Primakov coalition of 1999 and “the orange revolution” of 2003? There is no and can be no well-defined answer. There are too many variables – oil prices, terrorist activity, positions of the U.S.A. and European Union, and so on.

We can approximately imagine who will Kremlin stake on. Out of all political projects LDPR (who are known standing “for the destitute and for the Russians”) and “Rodina” (who also treat the rich well) can perform the most effective work with the destitute and the patriots. There is also the Agrarian party and Russian pensioner party, who have recently changed their leaders and management, and they showed good results on the recent series of regional elections. If this turns out to be not enough, it is possible to try reconciliation with CPRF, Zyuganov is vindictive, but capable of making arrangements. It is be possible to pump the resources into the projects of “schismatic” Semigyn – VKPB and “The Patriots of Russia”. It is possible to launch new projects, since there are many perspective figures like Tkachev, the governor of Krasnodar, Torshin, the vice-speaker of the Council of Federation, or Shein, a member of Astrakhan Duma and a fighter against the monetization. At last it is possible to create some “Russian party of Revenge” or “The Party of the Poor”…

I suppose that idem “Rodina” will be truly turned into the main sparring partner of “United Russia” in 2007, and Rogozin correspondingly will be moved out to the presidential elections, so that he would canvass the votes of the poor and the Russian and finally would fall in the battle with the successor.

At the same time it is necessary to understand clearly, that in case of the dissent of “Putin’s charter” many of the above projects might be resold to the opponents of Kremlin. Conservative Vladimir Volfovich is not likely to change anything, but it is better to be wary with idem “Rodina” and the others. In connection with this Rogozin’s coqueting with Yushchenko is very revealing, even if it has been primarily approved by Kremlin. And when they make jokes about the portrait resemblance of the leader of “Rodina” and Saakashvili – it only partially a joke… Though, of course, the “turncoats” don’t have many objective chances of success.

We will not fantasize of the personnel any more. There are two and a half years ahead. What would happen to anybody, who dared to predict in the beginning of 2001, that Sechin would be named “a new oil emperor” in two years, and Khodorkovsky would actually voluntarily go to jail and will acquire a qualification of a publicist?

As for the liberal protestants, I suppose party projects for them will attract insignificant attention of Kremlin as well as of its hypothetic opponents. The liberals are much smaller in number than the destitute and the patriots, and they vote less actively.


Old projects – “Yabloko” and SPS – are oppressed with an image of losers and trouble-makers, who supplemented hypocritical talks of the unity with open use of “dirty technologies” against each other. “Yabloko” that by 2003 evolved into a chieftain party with a monopoly sponsor, is now living over the personal crisis of Yavlinsky. He is still acting like he will not give up his principles, but if nobody adopts him (of course, with permission of Kremlin), by the time of next elections “Yabloko” will finally turn into something between a sect and a fan-club.

A little more chances to last till 2007 belong to the right, who boast that they have recently managed to promote several deputies in a row to regional parliaments. Though the price paid for it makes us doubt, if SPS can be still classified even as a western and market party. The right have cast prudence to the winds, staking on social-patriotic populism. For instance, in Irkutsk region SPS merged with the People party in a block “For the native Priangarye” advancing patriotic slogans and social claims. In Tula, Bryansk and Kurgan regions the blocks were not created, but the electorate was still offered the revision of the illegal privatization and plentiful benefits. In Arkhangelsk the right together with “Yabloko” formed a block named “Our native land – Arkhangelsk region” (!). Obviously, if they had a chance to call themselves simply “Rodina”, they would do it without batting an eyelid. All in all, nothing but circus and masquerade.


Hypothetical return of Chubais to the politics, which is dreamed of by some as of a chance to revive SPS, in fact would not help anything. It is a covered card. Chubais himself and through his people ran the campaign of 2003 and lost it, after that he resigned from the position of co-chairman of the party, that is, admitted his personal defeat. Besides, his longstanding lenience with Putin, aggravated by the presented phantasm of a “liberal empire”, depressed even many of the devoted party members, not to mention the liberal electorate.

Obviously, even if new liberal project appear, they will be positioned as social-liberal or liberal-patriotic. Those who are trying to do something – Shmelev brothers with their “The New Right”, Khakamada with “Our choice”, junior Ryzhkov and Kasparov are declaring the same “synthetic” intentions, marking off the “liberal Bolshevism” of the nineties. And “the right liberals” are unpromising; they should be placed in the cabinet of curiosities.



“The revolution of roses” in Georgia and “the orange revolution” in Ukraine, as it is widely said, have disproved the mythological impossibility of political changes in Russia, that the Post-Soviet space is populated with people who lost their passion, ready to suffer any authorities for doubtful stability. Dismissed figures of the nineties, intellectuals, offended with Kremlin for the lack of demand, Bohemia, suffering from Smerdyakov’s complex, and simply dull-witted romantics were delighted, exclaiming: “We should do it too! And the sooner the better!” …

It is hardly worth reminding, who and using what technologies made the people of Tbilisi and Kiev, as well as Belgrad before that, come out into the streets. During the last months there have been enough materials published about it in press and in the Internet, the interested ones have already read it and have understood it all. Who has not understood it – I feel sorry for him. It is still worth reminding that revolution is a radical upheaval in state and social-economical structure, but not an interception of power hardly covered with legal procedures and accompanied by folk reveling. That is why events in Georgia and Ukraine can be called “revolutions” only bearing with the vainglory of their organizers and with theatricality and ignorance of the commentators.

In Ukraine in the nineties a competitive oligarchy was also formed, even a glibber one than we had. Afanasyev even thinks that they have an etalon oligarchy “in an exact Aristotle’s meaning of this word”. But Ukrainian oligarchs were not going to establish an “emperor” even considering the fact that the disorders caused by the constant “competitions” bring harm to themselves.

Moreover, all the possible and impossible was done for the new president not to become an “emperor” at any time. We will not go far into analysis of the reasons why it happened so, but if we remember that Ukraine has little experience of statehood and no tradition of strong power, consolidated and personificated, at all, many things become clear.

Kuchma was a flabby regent. It was already in 2001-2002 when ex-premier Yushchenko, raised by Kuchma, started preparing for the presidential elections, collecting a pool of sponsors and a coalition of allies. Searching for a counterbalance, Kuchma chummed up with Donetsk clans, unfriendly before, whose representative – Yanukovich – first was appointed to the position of a prime minister and later was announced to be an official successor.

Yanukovich had objectively more of “emperor” potential and many oligarchs were afraid of his victory. And Yushchenko is a lot more congenial to Kuchma, it’s just that the latter couldn’t obtain guarantees for his inviolability until a certain moment. What can be said, if Kuchma during the campaign publicly reproved Yanukovich, rebuking him for poor work, criticized the initiative of ratifying Russian as a national language? It was a clear allusion not to put too much into the “heir”.

Regarding the constitutional reform, which Yushchenko agreed with to his misfortune, the president there will be not even a “sheriff” but an “arbiter”, whose amount of powers depends on a row of variable factors. If in Russia the competitive oligarchy changed to a consensus one, in Ukraine the race will continue, even considering the change in the list of participants.

Yushchenko is a leader of a coalition of “oligarchs-lights”, oppressed in the nineties or simply not happy with their fate. Timoshenko, Poroshenko, Chervonenko, Zhvaniya, Martynenko, Volkov, Grigorishin and many others are thirsting for revenge, some of them – for personal vengeance as well. Redistributions are inevitable even in stable regimes, obviously Ukraine will not avoid it. But now it will not be a “radical renovation of the elite”, and not “equidistancionation”, but merely a rotation of the oligarchy. Kuchma’s ministers and governors will live to run their business; their place will be taken by other businessmen. Some of the “biggies” will have to pay the rest for the privatized enterprises; some of the smaller ones will be ruined and even put into jail for delectation of rabble. Certain number of intellectual servants will follow their patrons, the military forces will be shaken up a little bit, and that is it.

It is going to be especially ridiculous, when the “orange” leaders start fighting with each other, attracting the “kuchmists” of the yesterday and Donetsk figures as their allies.

Ukraine will still be Ukraine. This can hardly be a great achievement…

Dmitry Butrin, perhaps, was the only liberal publicist who managed to create an impartial and quite an objective forecast – a projection of the “revolutionary” scenario applied to Russia. In his article Butrin fairly notices that the first point of the “ideological unity” (to be more exact, “propaganda unity” – I.V.) of the supporters of the “orange revolution” included civil rights and striving against Kuchma’s regime, and the second point was nationalism and fighting against social inequality and oligarchs, like Akhmetov in Donetsk. By the way, the Georgian “revolutionaries” demanded quite the same. Considering the mass moods in Russia, we can also formulate the summons of “the Russian Maydan”. Butrin says, not even concealing his regret, that even if “the revolution” happens, it will be held under the slogans of “social-democracy with a fairy large portion of nationalism”, moreover, imperial nationalism, and “will be headed by a moderate representative of the patriots” (Rogizin? Glazyev?) There will also be some appeals for the punishment of the oligarchs and for nationalization of strategic enterprises, as well as anti-Western, anti-American slogans. “And now imagine that there is this very mess and the idea of civil freedom and sovereignty of the people on one side, and on the other side – […] Putin with his devoted Gryzlov”, Butrin writes, admitting that he wouldn’t like to join neither Putin nor such “revolutionaries”.

It is clear that the perspectives of a social-patriotic “revolution” will not be favored by the western “friends”, even if they suddenly become sick of Putin, and many of them might not invest in such a project, at least, not seriously. But neither this nor the fact, that actually no real candidates for the position of Russian Yushchenko have appeared yet (presenting Kasyanov in such a role is ridiculous), is essential. It is forgotten for some reason that “the revolutions” in ex-soviet republics were preceded by the elections, where “the opposition” had managed to present itself effectively. And to present themselves in election, they need to participate in it. Otherwise the theme “the victory has been stolen from the nation” cannot be launched. Kremlin have not tightened the screws recently in vain, they will try not to let potential rioters come closer to elections than a cannon-shot.

However, let us suppose that the idem West coordinated or selected a leader for “the opposition”, forced a permission to register a party under him, like “United democrats of Russia”, and provided its participation in elections, or simply in the process of elective campaign Kremlin’s puppet, canvassing “the protestants”, has escaped out of their control. It is obvious that this “opposition” party will not be allowed to gain popularity, not to mention gaining the necessary number of votes that would let them shout about “the stolen victory”.

Assume that even in such a situation they will nevertheless organize a revolution for us, that is, will make the people come out into the streets. We need to realize that it hardly will turn out to be bloodless; the experience of the events in 1993 proves that. And where is the guarantee that at a certain point the crowd, having tasted the blood, will not come, maybe just for some time, out of the control of “the revolutionaries”? The fact, that however flabby the authorities are, they are capable of a quick neutralization of a rebellion, was illustrated in idem 1993. Most likely, they will neutralize it again; we can have no doubt (only if a great treason of military forces doesn’t happen). But if in idem 1993 the responsibility for the bloodshed could still be shared between Yeltsin and Khasbulatov with Rutskoi, all the possible victims of new violence, God not let them happen, will be ascribed to the responsibility only of those, who are now, wrapped in orange scarves, “are alluring the future thaw” (© V. Shenderovich).

The victory of “the revolution”, that is, dethronement of Putin or frustrated transfer of the presidential power to his successor will first result in reestablishment of the competitive oligarchy, which will quite quickly start transforming into a consensus one. No “democracy” and no dictatorship, there will be just oligarchy, and just a consensus one. Overthrow of separate persons does not anyhow mean neither liquidation of oligarchic supremacy nor especially dismantling of the current system. As a result a regime will be established that uses social-patriotic vocabulary even more actively and, at the same time, considering the inevitable active participation of western actors in “the revolution”, even more flabby, dependable and provincial one, than the one of Putin.

The theorists of the opposition propagandize the idea of “civil-social” resistance to the regime by means of actions of direct effect. In practice it means that any somewhat noticeable project is immediately declared to be “anti-Putin”, especially “revolutionary” – whether it is a mass-meeting of pensioners infuriated with the monetization, or a strike of workers not receiving their wages, or people fighting against the investors who are building over their playground, or supporters of one of Kharachayev’s clans making assault of the House of Government of the republic, where the representatives of the other clans have settled, or a flash-mob of students alarmed by the gossips about the college reforms and abolition of postponements for military service. Certainly, there are many things that deserve fighting, coming out into the streets and even organizing “an action”. But it is one matter, when people are asserting their own specific interest, no matter fairly or not, succeeding in something or experiencing a failure. It is quite another matter when the protest is being provoked and boosted artificially, especially if they try to unite the protestants artificially concerning completely different questions, imposing “common” ideas that will never solve any of their specific problems. But nobody will ever persuade me that undermining the state, not to mention overthrow of Putin, will automatically save the country from corrupt people, bandits and unprincipled employers.

What we can be absolutely certain about, is that there is going to be no lack of those “alluring the thaw” in the nearest future. They are evidently intending to act according to the principle “running will at least warm up”, that is, will help to acquire money and publicity.

Those have already showed up who offer themselves as Russian analogues of Serbian “Repulse”, Georgian “Khmara” and Ukrainian “Pora”. The recent actions of National Bolsheviks of Limonov (we need to give them their due for consistency – they have been maintaining an inexorable attitude to Putin), especially the takeovers of minister Zurabov’s cabinet in August and of the president’s public reception parlor in December look like, no matter how cynical it is, “an application for the grant”. Although the potential foreign sponsors are historically related to the liberal community and still remember visit of Limonov’s people to the convention of Gaidar’s “Democratic choice of Russia” in 1999, humiliation over Robertson, the general secretary of NATO, in 2001, slogans like “Stalin, Beria, GULAG!” and other lovely tricks, neither the former nor the latter do not have too much to choose from. At the present time there is no other organization in Russia that would have a long-term experience in actions of direct effect, creative leadership, and, what is the most important, the activists who sincerely regard themselves as revolutionaries and are ready for self-sacrifice. Similar communistic structures, like “The Vanguard of the Communist Youth”, have worse organization and have less than half of the service record of the National Bolsheviks. It is indicative that the liberal community, who has been recently regarding “Edichka” and his stooges as dangerous “fascists” and approved of the repressions against them, suddenly showed off their negative attitude to the rebukes against Limonov’s people, who were capturing the cabinet of Zurabov, who is, by the way, carrying out the social reform. The liberals – both old and young – do not want to serve time in jails, they will not even be able to do it, it’s another sort of human material. And it is urgent, because the militaries have already made it clear that they are going to gain promotion. “Exile to the North – tremendous stretch”, to be short. Besides, Limonov, a bohemian hooligan, is more or less “understandable” for the western intellectuals, they all were ideologically formed in 1968. So Russian “Pora” might happen, as well as the chimerical “right-left opposition”, which is spoken of a lot now, that is, an alliance of Limonov’s people, the Komsomols, young members of “Yabloko”, and other lefts with the radical “right liberlals”. The first thing to ruin these initiatives would be cynicism. In private conversations the liberals don’t conceal that they would like to use “the red” and “the fascists” as their “infantry”. And vice versa, the others justify the collaboration with contemptible democrats with the necessity to track their way to serious sponsors and mass media. Giggling, they tell the story of “Grandpa Lenin, who, as soon as he came to power, dismissed the Germans who had sponsored his revolution”…

They are frankly admitting that they dream of the decrease in oil prices, of a social-economical crisis in the country. I suspect that soon they will come to the point that “it would be useful to repeat Beslan”, God, have mercy upon us. It is a famous Bolshevik principle: “the worse – the better”… Nothing has been changing…


Let us wish bad luck to them all.

I want to be understood in a proper way. I am not an admirer of the present Russian reality and particularly Putin. But our problem is not in Putin and not in “chekists” and not in other oligarchs personally, but in Russian oligarchy itself, which is provincial, mercenary and unsuccessful. And it shouldn’t be solved by “the revolution” which at best will result in temporary restoration of competitive oligarchy with all its abomination and in final establishment of a new consensus oligarchy. At worst it is possible to raze the country, and I mean it literally. How to solve it – this is what we need to devise. And not rot about.