In Russia everything is calm, according to public opinion polls. And on the political scene in General, there is a deadly boredom. But, as the proverb says, still waters run deep. Many of our sociologists and politicians talk about increasing intra-elite contradictions, predicting that sooner or later, the underground fire will break out and put an end to the era of stability. Some even believe that the wait is very long. A matter of years, if not months. How true is this conjecture on the margin of our political system and prospects of its transformation in an interview with “MK” reflects a recognized Russian elitology — head of the sector of sociology of power and civil society, Sociological Institute RAS (Saint Petersburg) Alexander Duka.
photo: Alex geldings
— Alexander Vladimirovich, let’s first define the subject of our conversation. There are many variants of decoding of the term “elite”. What do you mean by this concept?
Are people who occupy important positions in the governance structures: political, administrative, economic — and take significant decisions for the country.
— But not always, you see, the position of the person to the extent of its influence.
— Yes, of course. But, you see, it is very difficult to judge what impact humans are considered to be shadow leaders. Reliable information on this point. Therefore, we focused on the persons who are the chiefs from the formal point of view. Since their real influence, as a rule, corresponds to the position.
— What is the size of this social group?
— If you take the Federal elite, a few thousand people: the President, members of his administration, government officials, state Duma deputies, Federation Council members, heads of regions, having an impact on Federal policy, heads of major business structures.
— By the way, according to Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, the oligarchs have no more, but “socially responsible business”. I agree with this assessment?
In the sense as it was understood in the 1990‑ies, the oligarchs may indeed not. Although social responsibility is usually the result of coercion by the authorities. But at the same time dramatically narrowed the pool of recruitment — a social space from which place of people entering elite positions. Social mobility slower and the less people upstairs are having a “low” origin, the less there is of people from an early age, and sat down. Our elite, in fact, begins to reproduce itself. Narrows and the persons making key decisions… In other words, there oligarchization of the elite, whatever may be said about it Dvorkovich. In fact, he himself can be attributed to one of the oligarchic clans. But as they say, not all recognize themselves in the mirror.
— The report “Russia‑2020”, prepared several years ago by an international team of researchers in the framework of the club “Valdai”, refers to the growing ideological polarization of the Russian elite and the gradual divergence between the two groups, the first of which prefers authoritarian management practices, while the second focuses on the liberal democratic model of the state. The liberals at the moment are in the minority. Do you like this feature?
— I would be a little different split. Yes, there is a whole group of people in power, having the image of reformers and progressives. And there is a group, called the security forces, the conservatives or the KGB. But grouping occurs not on the basis of ideological values, and on the basis of shared economic and financial interests. Ideology is nothing more than a method of external presentations of these groups cover the real interests. From an economic point of view, Putin holds quite a liberal policy, based on “liberals” and “security officers”. And in terms of political methods, the two groups differ very little from each other. When the kiss, “liberals” no hesitation in resorting to harsh undemocratic measures. Example — the actions of Boris Yeltsin and his team in September-October 1993. By the way, the current monograficheskoe state was built it was “liberals”. They have led to Putin’s power — as a continuation of Yeltsin. Of course, between these two figures there are significant differences. Yeltsin had first to seize power, which was necessary to destroy existing at the time of state institutions. Putin has a different historical task — the consolidation of power. But in the current environment of Yeltsin, I am sure, would go down the same path.
— Nevertheless, the conflict between these groups exist?
— Yes, of course. And not just between “liberals” and “KGB.” There are a number of other elite groups, including at the regional level. The dispute is primarily about the distribution of social wealth — on how to divide them, according to what rules. Satisfied with the current situation, of course, not all. However, these differences are not yet strong enough to pose a threat to political stability.
— The U.S. Treasury Department recently submitted to Congress the “Kremlin report” anticipating the new sanctions impact on the Russian elite. The extent to which substantiated concerns about the report, it is difficult to say, since the sanctions themselves have not yet been announced. But the goal pursued by the Americans and their allies, already clear today: they clearly are betting on the split of the Russian elites, and if to call things by their proper names, create the preconditions for the overthrow of Putin hands dissatisfied with his policies of the establishment. How, in your opinion, correct this calculation?
— Well, if Western politicians really expect sanctions to achieve regime change, I think they are mistaken. We have a different tradition, a different political culture, different value system. The history of Russia has repeatedly shown that outside pressure only reinforces the internal consolidation.
— However, according to some of our analysts, in particular, Stanislav Belkovsky, the Russian elite is in a panic. They say that the defendants “the Kremlin list” were convinced that their children and grandchildren will live in the West, and the “Kremlin report” put this theory in doubt. Do not agree with this view of the situation?
For part of the elite this information, perhaps, was really shocking. We are talking about those who are well integrated are integrated into the Western world. In any case, so it seemed. And now suddenly it turned out that they were not consider for their children. But such a category in our elite is not a majority. Another part — those who live, so to speak, in two houses. In the West they enjoy life: relax, buy villas and yachts, teach their children. But the money continues to earn here. From the point of view of the status there are none. For these sanctions, of course, unpleasant, but not fatal. They will lose more if you lose the Russian sources of his wealth. Finally, the third group — people who have never tied their life prospects with the West. For them the reason to panic at all. Among them, of course, there are also representatives of the business elite. But first and foremost is the political and administrative elite. Their current position they are required the current system of government. Fundamentally change its not in their interests, it would bury themselves. The external threat will force them instead to rally around the leadership of the country. So the end result is pressure, is likely to be the exact opposite of the expectations of the West. It will only get worse for him.
— What do you mean by “worse”?
— The position of the West like her or treated, was still a strong deterrent to our politicians. But if you drive the Russian elite in complete isolation, losing her will be nothing. In these circumstances, the policy will be conducted without attention to world public opinion. Open conflict with the West, of course, try to avoid. But it is possible, for example, what in America is called policy-extended borders. Refers to areas located outside of the country, but under its control. In our case, this can be, for example, a region of Eastern Ukraine. In principle, Russia now supports the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics, but we are talking about a completely different level of support. It is also possible to increase the number of Russian military bases in the near and far abroad.
— In General, a Palace coup should not wait?
— In the current environment and given the current trends of political development is, shall we say, extremely unlikely scenario. As well as the color revolution scenario. The argument that we have will soon break out your Maidan, just funny. Well some bursts of protest activity — the type of well-known rally on Bolotnaya square — probably, possible. But they will be quickly docked.
— It turns out that our political stability is not in danger — neither from above nor from below, neither from the outside?
— The situation is not static, it is constantly changing — in the political, economic, social, and personal terms. Therefore, to exclude anything. But so far nothing portends dramatic change in the situation.
“If the top believes that a monarchical form of government will promote the consolidation of society, then Yes, we probably will continue along this path.” Photo: rusdozor.ru
— Now let’s talk about those for whom even the current rules seem to be too democratic. In your recent work “the Monarchical temptation Russian elite” says that the Federal elite is increasingly discussing the issue of the restoration of the monarchy. How serious, in your opinion, is this a trend?
Monarchists in our elite appeared not yesterday, but in the political agenda the issue of restoring the monarchy came relatively recently — in 2014. After the annexation of Crimea and the beginning of active confrontation with the West, from representatives of our establishment are increasingly began to sound the proposal to change the current form of government monarchical. It is possible to hear from a number of deputies of the State Duma and heads of regions, and close to the government businessmen. That had never happened before, evolution is obvious: supporters of the monarchist ideas have become increasingly active, their statements are becoming more outspoken, radical. These people are no longer ashamed of their position. And, perhaps most important and alarming fact: despite the fact that they are, in General, against the existing constitutional order, nobody pulls. In fact, we are seeing the tacit encouragement of discussion on this subject from higher authority. Although according to our Basic law, this question is actually not debatable.
— You write also that increasingly there is discussion on the possibility of candidates not the kings of the Romanovs. You are talking about?
— First of all, of course, about the current President. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, if you remember, just offered Putin to become “the Emperor Vladimir the First.” And he’s not alone in his opinion.
St. George (Large throne) hall in the Winter Palace. The conviction of the Russian monarchists, empty Royal seat long.
That is, if I understand correctly, our monarchists can be divided into “romanovtsy” and “Putintsev”?
— Among Russian monarchists, there are many different sects and persuasions. In fact, even among the supporters of the return of the throne of the deposed dynasty, there is no unity: there are discussions about who is living Romanov “Romanova” who has more right to the throne. But if we talk about monarchists in the current political elite, I think most of them are just those who believed that the monarch should be Vladimir Putin.
— The society of Russian historical education, “double-Headed eagle”, headed by the head of the group “Constantinople” Konstantin Malofeev, in a recent resolution called for the upcoming March presidential elections were the last — “to the democratic test is finally over and by 2024, Russia had restored our national monarchical form of government.” Is there, in your opinion, the chances of implementing this scenario in these or similar terms?
— There is a chance, albeit very small. It is a question of political expediency. If the above count, that the monarchical form of government will promote the consolidation of society, then Yes, we probably will move in that direction. But for now, the monarchical idea does not enjoy much support among the population. According to the poll conducted in March last year, 68 percent of respondents were strongly against the monarchy. However, in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the share of opponents of the monarchy slightly less — 62%. Moreover, in contrast to the elite in society monarchist sentiment did not grow. In comparison with 2013, when VTSIOM conducted the previous survey on this subject, the proportion of respondents in varying degrees, supporting the idea of restoring the monarchy remained unchanged, at 28 per cent. In a word, our mass consciousness is not ready to abandon the Republican form of government. You cannot, however, exclude the possibility that it will gradually prepare you for it, that encouraged by the authorities to the activity of monarchist groups will change public opinion. But in the foreseeable future, our authoritarianism, I think, will develop into a habitual presidential form. Moreover, the status of the head of state in our political system is little different from the Royal.
— A constitutional monarch, notice, authority is much less than our President. Our “elite” monarchists prefer autocracy?
— There are advocates and constitutional monarchy. One of the possible variants — a strong Prime in the controlled monarch of the Romanov dynasty. I think the Kremlin calculate the different scenarios of our political future, including the most exotic. But, I repeat, the greatest chances that the present form of government. However, in a more rigid form: nuts, will certainly be a twist — including as a response to external pressure. It is first and foremost about the reduction of political and ideological contacts with the West, the new restrictive measures against the registered as a foreign agent, a further tightening of control over the information space.
— The Achilles heel of the presidential model, at least from the point of view of supporters of preservation of the current power hierarchy, is the issue of the transit authority. In our reality — “problem‑2024”. Monarchy is the problem it solves.
— It can be solved in a simpler way. For example, look at Kazakhstan, whose President has been in office since 1991.
— What is the solution in removing the constitutional restriction of time of stay in power?
One of the options. There are others. You can, for example, to again resort to the scheme with controlled successor. To predict what variant will be given preference, not taken. It would not be a forecast, and divination. It is clear, however, that the West neither of them satisfied. But as they say in the old joke, “let them slander”. The greater the pressure on Russia, the more free will feel the country’s leadership in the choice of model power.
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