At the beginning of last year, the head of the Center for political-geographic research analyst Nikolai Petrov in his report “Russia in a tailspin: what alternatives were left to Putin” made some pretty resonant and non-standard predictions about the future of the country. He said that the current regime got a year and a half and that if Russia will not return to fair elections, Putin will leave power will be able to take any well-organized force, including the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. “MK” I spoke with Nikolai Petrov and asked him how he came to such conclusions, why are the predictions so far have not come true and how events can develop further.
photo: Alex geldings
— At the beginning of last year, you compared Russia with the aircraft into a tailspin that will either fall apart in the air, or broken on the ground. You said that the existing political regime has almost completely run out of resources for its preservation and will be replaced in a year and a half. But this did not happen?
— The main idea of the aircraft into a tailspin that we were in the trajectory from which it cannot escape on their own, because the decisions that were taken in 2014, seem irreversible. Then consider three possible versions of events. The first is the use of external push. On the one hand, we can’t replay everything back, to return the Crimea and to say “sorry”. On the other hand, to forgive us for what we did, without changing the rules of the game, too, no one can. But everywhere there is turbulence, we do not live alone and see what are the problems facing Western countries. We can therefore expect that any major shift in the European Union, assume the output of great Britain and everything after this will begin, or the results of U.S. presidential elections, it can change the rules of the game to give us a major boost and be thrown out of this trajectory.
The second option is collapse, if we don’t have time to do anything, the plane meets the ground. And the third is the change of the pilot forces of the elites and the restoration of relations with the West.
For the half year slightly changed the ratio of the probabilities of these three options. The latter seems unlikely. A new military-autocratic Putin’s legitimacy has made it less dependent on political elites. But increased the probability of exit from a spin through the external shocks in combination with our internal efforts. On the one hand, we see the turbulence in the West, and everywhere. With the other power largely abandoned the anti-Western rhetoric and is trying to modernize the political system — and elections in single member constituencies, and the primaries of “United Russia”, I would expect further serious steps after the Duma elections.
But I would say that these actions are very slow. Can the system transform itself from within and to become more adequate to the existing conditions or will fall apart because you don’t have time or can’t do — a matter of time.
— In last year’s report, talking about what might happen after the departure of Vladimir Putin, you have modeled two scenarios: the government could raise someone from the security services or Ramzan Kadyrov. The second option at least at first glance looks fantastic. None of the seriously such statements did not.
To begin with, that our country is not one personalist regime, but two. First — Putin. The second Kadyrov, who is associated with Putin, some kind of vassal agreements, but no more. And, when Putin was President, Kadyrov has openly stated that he is not loyal to the President of the Russian Federation that he is loyal to Putin personally. Therefore, Putin’s departure, this bunch puts in a very difficult position.
When I talked about the fact that his participation in the struggle for power after Putin is quite real, I meant this part in two possible qualities. The first kingmaker, in our case, carmaker, is a person, whose participation determines the fate of the crown. And the second is the pretender to the crown. In a scenario where the leader disappears or its high popularity, there is no basis for the save system: there is no basis for the preservation of the institutions, not the regional elites, which in 90-e years, when Yeltsin was very weak, unable to maintain the system, there is no independent politicians who use the authority of the citizens.
They all Shine with reflected light from Putin. Don’t think we really serious that the popularity of Medvedev not depend on Putin’s popularity. With the departure of the sun the moon all these off, all of these policies disappear. Who’s left: Sergei Shoigu, which has grown strongly in recent years, and Kadyrov.
In this situation the political power of the desert can take a not necessarily big, but well-organized force, which will act quickly. This could be a party like the Bolsheviks. But we have no such party. A year and a half ago, it seemed that the nationalists can fulfill this role because they can quickly put a large number of people who could decide the question of power. Today, don’t think so. Either the security services or Kadyrov, who is also a kind of secret service. Its uniqueness is in the fact that it is simultaneously the head of the region, and the head of the power structure. Bayonets had far less than others. But they have a more docile and ready to execute any order.
I would not consider a coincidence that over the past year or two we see the transformation of the small Caucasus Kadyrov autocrat in the figure on a national and global scale. He organizes some huge Muslim rallies about the fact that it happens in Paris, he makes statements on foreign policy, he travels to the middle East. He leads a foreign policy that is neither one of our regional leaders, and all the while retains a very high level of publicity.
But how physically possible the transition of power in his hands? Rating him isn’t as high in January by the Levada center recorded that the respect and sympathy for Kadyrov in the population declined from 35% to 17%. What, the government will take 50 thousand Kadyrov’s men”? Go to storm the Kremlin?
— 50 thousand bayonets is not required, and storm don’t need anything. In our country since 1991, the new leader never came to power through elections. This has always been the decision of the elite, which then was accompanied by a vote. In the case of the departure of Putin or his legitimacy or some of the most active and involved in this struggle forces to agree among themselves and present us with a new leader, or they will make use of existing formal frame, will announce the election and present us with candidates.
They most likely will be the one who will be able to consolidate the control of the blocking stake inside the power elite. This candidate I see Kadyrov, who is not to be regarded as an outcast, which is counter to all security forces. He has allies in the Federal law enforcement agencies, a coalition of today is not visible, but they will instantly appear at the crucial moment.
— But, according to the common version, the creation of the National guard, among other things, was aimed at the elimination of Chechen security forces under Kadyrov’s control, the use of combat-ready units is now carried out in coordination with the Director of the Federal service of national guard troops Victor Zolotov. Is this not an attempt to weaken the influence of Kadyrov?
— This version is unlikely to be taken seriously, because the power over all of Kadyrov’s forces in Chechnya is not formal, but real. If he, as you saw in the YouTube, can chastise the generals, which sends Federal center, and give them orders, what we have reason to believe that internal troops so can be, and with the National guard it is not?
Maybe a conflict with Kadyrov, head of the FSB Bortnikov was some impetus. But I would say that the task of national guard is still to restore the balance within the power block and to eliminate a sharp increase in the influence of the FSB, and take the security forces for their own problems, to minimize their participation in all other respects.
But is there such ambitions Kadyrov? Yes, he makes statements that it is important not only Chechnya, but also all Russia. But the international activity it leads all the same in the Muslim world, travels to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain. If he needed a whole country, a large part of the population which considers itself Orthodox?
— I sometimes seem very naive kind of reasoning. Like a giant Orthodox country can manage non-Russian people? After Stalin, it looks pretty ridiculous argument. It is important to look at what is really happening. If we had seen Kadyrov, shutting in Chechnya and its problems, or at least in the North Caucasus, then we could talk about he has ambitions of a higher level or not.
It shows that there is neither the interior Ministry nor the FSB that it can change the head of the court, if he for some reason uncomfortable. This could be done with only one purpose — a demonstration of his power in the country and abroad.
Kadyrov is among the most popular Federal politicians, it is not a coincidence. May rating polls puts him near the Patriarch Kirill, here’s part of the answer to the question, and Valentina Matvienko. Yes, of course, until he travels to Washington, because the US President is not calling. And in the Muslim world today it plays an increasingly important role. And the situation with Syria has played into his hands.
Like Kadyrov and outside the Muslim world, though the Muslim world in our country is considerable. Love him because he is a statesman, because he is young, because he is energetic, because he acts as like many citizens, disregarding the law, and that the West will say.
Plus Kadyrov is not only a power structure, but also the network structure, because unlike other governors, he has a network of somehow related businesses, including semi-criminal ones, in other regions. And through these fraternities and businesses he controlled not only the Northern Caucasus but also other regions.
Therefore, it deserves attention as an influential political player.
— You said that now increased the probability of exit from a spin through an external point, in combination with our internal efforts. Is this force a “reboot” of the CEC: replace Churov on Pamfilova, the cancellation of elections in the Moscow suburb Barvikha on course for interaction with observers, the resignation of several heads of regional election commissions? Whether it will save the regime?
— This is a positive step. Although I don’t see it as a fundamental change in the position of authority on the elections. Rather, it suggests that the government is again concerned about its image. The question arises, for whom she creates it. It is difficult to find the recipient in the country, at least it’s not the protesters and not the liberal intelligentsia, which the government is trying to ignore, exposing that this is the minimum minority and don’t need to listen to it.
In my opinion, what is happening with the CEC is the demonstration of a well-perceived on the West steps today to try to get out of the confrontation and from a spin.
— But there are also some game to the protesters. Still, their numbers were high, but one of the main requirements were fair elections and the resignation of Churov. Now the government, despite the fact that continues to be used by other “black” technology, can tell you a fair election.
— I will turn your attention to the fact that in parallel with the changes in the CEC crackdown occurs the monitoring of the elections. People don’t particularly care what will be the balance of parties in the state Duma, people are concerned about the blatant rudeness of the authorities to their address. You are right, the government is afraid of protests. Therefore, the smaller number of observers, the less information about this kind of rudeness and the less the danger of such a negative power of the social reaction.
On the other hand, you saw a diagram of the slicing constituencies. She says that the government wants to co-opt the urban voter. The calculation is made of the fact that the rural population will provide the desired result. And then the government will get the Duma, where they will be loyal to the local or Federal government MPs, but will not or will be very poorly represented the most active part of the electorate. And this conflict is potentially very dangerous. When you exclude from the political system a potentially strong player, you drive the situation into a corner. Because to this player heard again he will have to go to mass protests.
— What steps, in your opinion, can make the Russian government to rescue the system?
— An option that I think is simple for the Kremlin after the elections to the state Duma to announce that we have won and proved to the West that we are great and we have considered, and now we have a major problem — the economy and the crisis. We must achieve economic growth and for this to some extent will cooperate with the West. Putin also needs the support of its radical economic reform program.
But for the last 16 years do not give us grounds for serious hope that Putin is capable of. During this time, the authorities did not make radical drastic steps, except that we saw in 2014, but it was a completely different coordinate system.
— Why there is no reason to believe Putin put Kudrin in CSR for the development of the economic program for the presidential election?
— The power at the same time playing different variants, it makes a step in one direction, then two in another. And last week we announced the creation of the presidential Council for economic strategy, which the Bureau will be headed by Medvedev. And we now know Kudrin, Medvedev will be the eye or Belousov, and everyone will send their signals to your audience, Kudrin — the liberals and the West, the eye — statists, Medvedev — officials. It’s not a joke, this government is doing with ease and grace, but the thing is to make a drastic step. It is therefore sharp, because it denies freedom of maneuver. But Putin, I think, psychologically Libra — man who as long as he wants to keep all the features and as long as possible not to make a choice, which severely cuts off all other options.
— Unless there is a change of the pilot power will not go to drastic economic steps, then 2018 will be the scenario with the collapse and destruction of the system?
Now I would describe a tailspin as five craters, which hit the country. They spiral downward and spun quickly lead us to the bottom. First — overconcentration of power in the hands of one person. Roughly speaking, the situation evolves as physics with black hole when the mass starts faster to get involved at one point, and then explodes. The second is the exhaustion of resources for the military mobilization of legitimacy. The second of the Crimea there, and if you look at the ratings of Putin, you will see that neither Syria nor Turkey has almost no impact on his popularity had. The third crater is manual control. It is not only in itself problematic in a vast country like ours is fraught with that on all levels of the system are people who are only able to transmit a signal from the top down and not able to make decisions and take responsibility. The fourth is reduction of the planning horizon. And in the case of instability long-term investments is disadvantageous not only in Economics but also in politics. Why do we see such a number of political parties and the unwillingness of its leaders to agree with each other? Because long-term projects do not work. You can’t expect that today you are the fifth in three years you’ll be the first. Better today to be the first in their microparti than fifth in a major, because after three years, all ten times change.
But if you do all the time repairs and 20 years do not repair a sewer pipe, then, when in 20 years they will run you any money is not enough to put them in order in one night. In our economy and politics. And fifth, is intra-elite conflicts. They become more dangerous, and the system loses the last institutions that helped to solve them automatically. Every time they need to resolve manually. You need to create the National guard to restore the balance between law enforcers.
When all five of these hoppers work together, they have a negative synergistic effect. But there is no rigid predetermination, in which you can tell in 10 days or 10 years, everything will collapse. All we can say is that the risk and the fatigue system all the time.Related posts: