Monday, April 11, 2016

In Advance of Elections, Putin Preparing to Move Against Oligarchs, Martynov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 10 – Having already torn up the social contract between the regime and the population, Putin is now about to destroy the contract between the Kremlin and big business that has existed since 2001, according to Kirill Martynov, the political editor of Moscow’s “Novaya gazeta.”

            As a result, the commentator suggests, “loyalty alone is already insufficient: the most important businessmen will now be expected to share with the country as a whole the hardships of the crisis,” a shift that has the potential to solve three of Putin’s most important political problems (

            First, such moves have the potential to “save the budget” by providing the government with a new source of funds. Second, Martynov continues, it gives the Kremlin an ideological boost with the population unhappy with the gross displays of wealth. And third, it blocks the KPRF from offering “an alternative political agenda under conditions of economic instability.”

            The political advantages of such a strategy, the commentator suggests, are obvious. Russia will not only be “a world capital of sport, a protector of ‘the Russian world,’ and the defender of the planet against global terrorism.”  It will become “the world capital of social justice.”

            Putin played with this idea earlier before he was elected to a third term, Martynov says. But now, the Kremlin leader seems even more committed to it, especially since a revision of privatization has the potential to address the country’s budgetary difficulties and to win political points.

            Of course, Martynov says, there is going to be a major fight over the details; but Putin clearly has decided to make a change – and the old rules governing the relationships between big business and the Kremlin are changing, something most ordinary Russians will celebrate even if many Russian businessmen do not.

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