Saturday, August 15, 2015

Loyalty of Russian Bureaucracy to Moscow Wearing Thin

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 15 – The reaction of officials in Tyumen’s far north highlights just how much Moscow must pay to buy the loyalty of the bureaucracy and how rapidly that loyalty can dissipate if the center attacks not phantom “enemies” but strikes at the privileges of that stratum, according to “Novaya gazeta” journalist Georgy Borodyansky.

            In the current issue of that Moscow paper, he reports on a survey conducted by the news agency concerning the reaction of officials to the plans of the central government to reduce their pensions, an action that not only causes them to be less patriotic but even to consider “’a social revolt’” (

            “The servants of the people in Tyumen’s northern regions are not ready to share even in part the fate of the population they serve, Borodyansky says.  Officials there do not like the “anti-crisis” proposal of the labor ministry to increase the pension age of government employees to 65.

            They are angry for two reasons. On the one hand, it would deprive them of the benefits they have enjoyed and feel entitled to by moving to that harsh land. And on the other, because many went there for relatively short times to boost their pensions, plans to increase the requirement to get additional payments from 15 to 20 years would reduce their pay in the future.

            The Moscow measure does not make any exceptions for what officials in the far north consider their exceptional situation.  As a result, the bureaucrats are angry and beginning to express their anger first among themselves and anonymously and then more openly. Now, they are going public to journalists and politicians.”

            Elena Zlenko, the deputy speaker of the legislative assembly of the Yamalo-Nenets district, says that “such initiatives undermine the foundations of the government system. These bonuses were a serious stimulus for bureaucrats who today are the foundation of the state.”  Ignoring that is going to have consequences.

            Her words show what few want to acknowledge, Borodyansky says. Bureaucrats and not the people are the foundation of the Russian state, and “the loyalty of those bureaucrats costs a lot.”  This is hardly “the very best time to shake the power vertical because the country is experiencing a crisis,” Zlenko says.

            Moreover, she adds, “the adoption of this law [without modificaitons] will lead to a growth in corruption because it will become much more difficult to keep state employees from engaging in it.”  After all, they would want to make up what would amount to at least a 55 percent cut in their former pay.

            Another regional politician, Mikhail Serdyuk, a Duma deputy who is running for governor of the Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous District, says that officials as a whole consider this draft law “extremely unjust” and that his fraction “does not support it.  And a third, Vyacheslav Tetekin, who represents the KPRF in the local parliament agrees.

            Among the population, he says, there is no love lost on the bureaucrats.  But everyone can see, Tetekin suggests, that this move against the bureaucrats will open the way to moves against the benefits of others as well. That kind of thinking will lead to new alliances that won’t be designed to support what Moscow wants to do.

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