Saturday, June 16, 2018

Putin’s Rise had 13 ‘Fathers’ and 12 Serious Opponents, Illarionov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 15 – Vladimir Putin and the Russian political system known as Putinism did not emerge out of nowhere, Andrey Illarionov says. Instead, it was promoted in the 1990s by 13 “fathers” who shared some of his and its core values, a pattern highlighted by the very different core values of its 12 most important opponents.

            If one examines Putin’s remarkable rise in the last decade of the 20th century, the Russian analyst says, one can easily see that 12 people played key roles in promoting him and his approach. These include Sobchak, Chubais, Gaidar, Aven, Kudrin, Bolshakov, Borodin, Yumashev, Dyachenko, Voloshin, Berezovsky, Abramaovich and Yeltsin (

            They backed him at each step and protected him from criminal prosecution or political obliquy; and he returned the favor at least at the time, Illarionov says. 

            One should note, he continues, that “among the immediate fathers of Putinism, Gorbachev, Lukyanov, Ryzhkov, Kryuchkov, Yazov, Zyuganov, Zhirinovsky and many other similar figures who are connected or traditionally associated with the CPSU, the KGB, the VKP, and the APK,” the traditional “statist” and “’patriotic’ wins of Russian society.”

            Instead, Illarionov says, “the immediate fathers of Putinism are usually viewed in traditional discourse as representatives of the more liberal wing of domestic public life.”  Some like Gaidar, Chubais, Kudrrin and Aven “are traditionally called ‘radical liberals,’” the others “’moderate liberals,’” or “’orthodox businessmen.’”

            Thus, it turns out that “’liberals’ -- both radical and moderate – consciously or unconsciously but directly over the course of a number of years conducted affairs and led things to the point so that at the head of the country appeared forced directed at establishing in it a harsh authoritarian regime.”  Indeed, most of them appeared “satisfied” with that outcome.

            In the 1990s, there were forces which “opposed this process,” Illarionov continues. Among them were Galina Starovoitova, Marina Salye, Yury Gladkov, Yury Boldyrev, Aleksandr Belyaev, Nikolay Andrushenko, Sergey Kovalyev, Sergey Yushenkov, Yury Shchekochikhin, Anatoly Pakhomov, Andrey Zykov, and Artem Borovik.

            Some of these people could also be called “’liberals’” and thus would appear to be not terribly dissimilar from the “’liberals’” who backed Putin, Illarionov argues; but three things set these two groups of people apart: First, except for Yeltsin and Sobchak, none of the members of the first group ever took part in a genuine election, while the members of the second mostly did.

            Thus, the relationship of the two groups to democracy was from the outset very different. “The second group participated in tough competitive elections; they understood what democratic procedures meant, on the whole respected them, and fought for their preservation. It is thus entirely appropriate to call them democrats.” 

            “The representatives of the first group on the other hand never took part in genuinely honest democratic procedures, didn’t like them, were suspicious of them, were afraid that they would lose (not without basis), and despised them. These were anti-democrats in the most direct sense.”

            Second, the two groups had a very different attitude toward law.  “Representatives of the second group did not land in any serious scandal … they were and remained supporters of law. Many of the representatives of the first group however several times and in major ways violated the law and the Constitution” – and did so repeatedly and shamelessly.

            And third, had Illarionov continues, the two groups had very different moral codes. None of the members of the second group were involved in morally suspect activities or were willing to link up with the special services or the organs that operated on the principle that the end justifies the means.

            But “unlike them, representatives of the first group not only did not see any obstacles to cooperation with the KGB or FSB but obviously rushed to make use of any possibility for joint profitable activity with the special services.” Thus, “the first were and remained collaborationists, while the second corresponded to a Resistance Movement.”

            Illarionov sums up: “Hatred to democracy, denigration of law, ignoring morality, and collaborationism with the political police allowed representatives of the first group actively to participate not simply in corruption … but formed the basis of Putinism as a political, legal, moral and economic system.

            And that means both that this system is broader that Putin and that its foundations as a social system “were laid long before Putin himself reached the post of president of Russia.  He only led the system established before him to tis perfection, by radically increasing the extent of repression, aggression and theft.”

            Thus, Illarionov says, “the creators of this system from the first group are the real fathers of Putinism.

            “The observance of democratic procedures, respect for the law, the observation of all-human morality, and rejection of any cooperation with the Corporation of the special services” set the opponents of Putin and Putinism apart and serve as a model of the kind of system Russians must pursue once Putin and his supporters pass from the scene.

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