Thursday, December 1, 2016

Putin's System Based on ‘Nomenklatura Class of Adventurists’ on Russia, Bystrov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 1 – Russia’s greatest misfortune is that it is ruled today by Vladimir Putin and his “nomenklatura class of adventurers” and that under current conditions, there is no chance that it will be able to get out from under that group anytime soon, according to Moscow commentator Denis Bystrov.

            This term, he suggests, raises many questions. “What is a nomenklatura? Why doe sit form a class? And finally why in the nomenklatura have appeared adventurists?” The answers, he suggest reflect the transformation of the Soviet nomenklatura into the Russian nomenklatura in the 1990s (

                Drawing on the works of Milovan Djilas and Michael Voslensky, Bystrov observes that “the nomenklatura is an exploitive social organism which ruled in the society of the Soviet Union and later in Russia?” It is a class because “it is a group of people” which controls the flow of goods and services to itself. And it is consists of “adventurists” because that is what those on top want.

            In 1991, “the nomenklatura died together with the socialist Soviet Union,” he writes, “and the nomenklatura was instantly reborn in the new capitalist Russia,” mostly made up of the same people who had been part of it before but with fewer constraints on their control of wealth or ability to act.

            The existence of a nomenklatura is incompatible with democracy: it does everything it can to subvert democratic forms. But in order not to provoke the population into revolt, Bystrov says, the new Russian nomenklatura makes use of democratic forms but drains them of all meaning to prevent them from being used to put pressure on the elites.

            Putin has made this new class increasingly into his obedient servants but only at the price of making the class ever more an enemy of the population as a whole. Indeed, the Moscow commentator says, “the fundamental problem of [Russia today] is the presence in its social structure of a nomenklatura class.”

            It doesn’t matter how many other classes there are, he continues, and it doesn’t matter how many of them remain even after successful reforms. But there will only be real progress if as a result, the nomenklatura class is not among them.  Achieving that isn’t easy, he argues, because this class knows how to defend and reincarnate itself regardless of the social system.

            The only way to break it, Bystrov suggests, is by inviting internationally-recognized professionals to identify those who should be appointed to key posts. Otherwise, he concludes sadly, it will be “impossible” to get rid of the nomenklatura as the events of the 1930s and now show.  Given that such a commission is probably unthinkable, the future is bleak indeed.

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