Surkov has resigned

Discussion in 'Russian Politics' started by AKarlin, May 8, 2013.

  1. AKarlin

    AKarlin Generalissimo Staff Member

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    This is breaking news so there's no Eng-lang. article yet.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a brief timeline of the brewing scandal that at least on the surface was related to his departure:
    • Surkov gave a lecture at the LSE, which was in fact a Q&A session. During one question about corruption at Skolkovo, he criticized the Investigative Committee for excessive zeal.
    • Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the IC - the same one who said that Navalny's political activities brought the IC's interest onto him especially quickly - penned a very direct and scathing indictment of Surkov's comments. He said that Surkov has no right to be dictating to the IC what cases it should and should not investigate, least of all from a foreign country.
    • Surkov airily dismissed the article, saying he doesn't "comment on graphomania."
    And now we learn he is leaving his post as Deputy Prime Minister, ostensibly "on his own initiative."

    Surkov is something of a legend. He has a reputation as the "gray cardinal" of the Kremlin, a bit like Suslov during the Soviet period. The inventor of "sovereign democracy." Although his real level of political influence is subject to debate - the people who study (or speculate about) "Kremlin clans" never put him into the foremost ranks of power brokers. He was also far closer to the Medvedev/Skolkovo people than to Putin's circles (indeed, it's rumored that Putin doesn't much like Surkov period).

    Discuss his legacy; the real reasons for his departure (own wish? fallout over Skolkovo scandal? high profile victim of a clan war? Putin finally quashing him?); the political ramifications.
  2. Ils18

    Ils18 Dead Soul

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    His nemesis, Makarkin from the investigative committee, says that Surkov wanted to return to his former position in the sphere of political administration. He says Surkov lost the battle between several inter gouvernmental organisations.
  3. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Drat! I'll really miss that mantra:"Вы — сурковская пропаганда!"
  4. mls13

    mls13 Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    Will they have to shelve that slogan?
    Can I have it?
    I could make ironic hipster t-shirts that read:
    "Я сурковская пропаганда."

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  5. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    My own personal view of Surkov is that he is an overestimated individual. I also think his departure is altogether a good thing.

    The first thing to say about Surkov is that though he is undoubtedly very clever, like many clever people he is nowhere near as clever as he thinks he is. He appears to have a conception of himself as an arch manipulator and puppet master, someone able to control Russian politics from behind the scenes. In reality all his intrigues and manipulations do is create confusion and cynicism in a political system, which suffers from too much cynicism already. As for the suggestion that Surkov "controlled" or "shaped" Russian politics or that he was responsible for Putin's success, that is just ridiculous. So by the way is the suggestion (made separately by Mark Adomanis and by the Economist) that his departure represents a turn towards repression. On the contrary I consider it an entirely good thing that will hopefully clear the political air.

    To take his role as a puppet master first, I don't know to what extent Surkov has actually been responsible for the fabrication of the various quasi opposition parties we have seen regularly cropping up in Russia since the end of the 1990s. However he is so identified with this practice that he must in part be responsible for it.

    The point is that so far all of these projects with the partial exception of A Just Russia have been unsuccessful. It is simply impossible in a country that is as educated and politically mature as Russia now is to create artificially parties whether of the left or the right, from on high, especially when the intention is to go on controlling them from behind the scenes. Quite simply, such obviously artificial and controlled parties carry no political credibility with their target constituencies, which is why they are unable to attract stable support and have been so ephemeral.

    Not only are such parties inherently unstable, but there is always a strong temptation on the part of those who lead them to gain credibility by breaking free of the Kremlin's control. This has happened with Rogozin, Mironov and Prokhorov. The result is that when these politicians or parties do (up to a very limited point) succeed, as in the case of A Just Russia in the 2011 parliamentary elections, they do so in the manner of Frankestein's monster, by running free from their creator, which defeats the purpose of setting them up in the first place.

    All of this is very bad and to the extent that it has had an actual bearing on Russian politics it has probably reinforced the political stagnation within the opposition that is for the country a real problem. One of the reasons why exhausted politicians like Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are still there is surely because Surkov's concocted parties have left no political space for genuine challenges to them to emerge. Not only is this very bad for the opposition, but it is also bad for the government, which needs an effective and at the same time genuinely patriotic and loyal (to the country, not the government) opposition if it is to function fully effectively. It is also bad for the country in that it is saddled with a discredited and incompetent opposition, which gives it no alternative to the government, allowing space for genuinely dangerous political adventurers such as the Gudkovs, Ponomariev and some of the other White Ribbonists to appear on the margins.

    It is also a myth that Putin's and United Russia's electoral success is the result of Surkov's manipulations. That grossly underestimates the very real and genuine support they both have. In fact what Surkov's manipulations have actually done is create the impression that they are weaker than they actually are and have less support than they actually have and that they need manipulations of Surkov's sort to stay in power, when in reality because of the real support they have they definitely don't. The result paradoxically is to make the government appear weaker and less legitimate that it in fact is.

    The true measure of the bankruptcy of Surkov's methods was his complete failure either to anticipate or respond to the protest movement that emerged in December 2011. Faced by real protests instead of pretend politics, unlike Putin he could find nothing useful or intelligent to do or say.

    Russia has now matured to the point where the kind of politics that Surkov represents no longer makes sense and holds the country. Perhaps it made sense in the 1990s (though it did no good even then)but the country now definitely deserves better. Hopefully with Surkov gone it might get it.

    I also want to say something briefly about Surkov's in my opinion equally overblown reputation as an ideologue.

    This seems to derive from a single article he wrote many years ago in which he came up with the phrase "sovereign democracy". It is some years now since I read this article (in translation) but I did not find it sinister in the way some say. What the article appeared to say was that Russia should be a democracy but one that should not sacrifice its political independence or freedom of action - ie. it should remain "sovereign" - in a way that was obviously intended to refer to the US. In other words the article called for a Russia that should be democratic but not subservient to US interests policies and interests in the way the European democracies and Russia in the 1990s had become.

    I can understand why some in the US (including it seems Mark Adomanis) don't like this article, but I can't for the life of me see why Russians should object to it or find anything sinister in it. Certainly I don't remember seeing anything in the article that could be said to promote the idea of a "managed democracy", even if Surkov's actual practice in government has been like that.
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  6. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Rumour has it, though I'm not one to gossip, that he might be making a comeback.

    See: Сурков возвращается во власть: ему могут «отдать» Украину


    Surkov returning to power: he might be "given" the Ukraine

    The influential official shall counter Kiev in the European Union

    Several informed sources have already confirmed that Vladislav Surkov is going to return to power with the status of assistant to the Russian president. Having quit as vice-premier in May, the government official is likely to be in charge of Ukrainian affairs. According to unofficial information, the decree appointing him is ready and waiting for his signature.
  7. José Moreira

    José Moreira High Commissar Staff Member

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  8. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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