Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Putin Seeks to Move from ‘Regime of Favorites’ to One of ‘Young Wolves,’ Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 1 – Vladimir Putin is planning on a massive change in cadres at the regional and central levels, one in the best “old Soviet Russian tradition” of ousting those who have been part of his “regime of favorites” and installing in their place technocratic “young wolves” who will simply follow orders, Liliya Shevtsova says.

            In an interview given to Kyiv’s Novoye vremya, the Russian political scientist now at London’s Chatham House says that these changes will occur in large numbers and very rapidly in the near future (nv.ua/world/countries/putin-pytaetsja-provodit-kadrovuju-politiku-po-primeru-stalina-lilija-shevtsova-2466756.html).

            Putin will thus be acting “in the old Soviet Russian tradition which Joseph Stalin perfected” and seek to replace “the decaying old elite” with a new one, Shevtsova says. He will start with regional elites – many governors will be out soon, she suggests – and then move on to Moscow, including to members of the force structures.

            What this means, the Russian political analyst says, is that “Putin is seeking to shift from a regime based on favoritism to a regime of loyal ‘young wolves,’” just as Stalin did in the 1930s and Aleksey Kosygin equally radically but without the violence did in the 1960s. The new generation will consist of “young technocrats.”

            Because Putin does not want to rock the boat too close to his own person, she continues, he is likely to leave a certain number of senior officials in place. Thus, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov or Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev may survive; but almost everyone else is at risk of being pushed out of the centers of power.

            And because of the interrelationship of power and property in Russia, Shevtsova continues, there will follow a redivision of control over key parts of the economy as well as of the state.

            Shevtsova does not say, at least in this segment of her interview published today, that this means the coming weeks are a period of extreme danger not only for Putin’s underlings but also for Putin himself.  That is because those who are about to be ousted know that their fall will be very far and thus may decide to take action to prevent it.

            The old saying that “the most dangerous time for a bad regime is when it begins to reform itself” holds even if what the regime wants is to reform itself in a still more ugly direction.  That is what Putin appears to be doing, and it means that like “reformers” before him, he may face new opposition by those who have the most to lose.

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