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Analysts Scratch Their Heads


Analyst Dmitry Oreshkin says Medvedev has to make changes if he wants a second term.

Analyst Dmitry Oreshkin says Medvedev has to make changes if he wants a second term.

The events in the Duma yesterday and today have naturally given birth to considerable speculation. Nothing in Russia, of course, is what it appears to be. It couldn’t be that elections were massively falsified and people are justifiably outraged about it. That would be too simple.

Grani.ru made the rounds of some leading analysts and here are excerpts from their comments:

Political commentator Kirill Rogov said the October 11 polls were a “traditional ‘vote gathering’ characteristic of authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes.”

Undoubtedly this demarche is not so much connected with the problem of democracy in the country as it is with definite splits within the political elite and among those who stand at the top of the political pyramid. The initiator was Zhirinovsky, who fairly consistently tailors his actions to the current circumstances. I think this is a serious demarche against United Russia and that group within the political leadership that relies on it. It seems intended to increase Medvedev’s influence, including his influence in parliament since those factions that walked out have appealed to him and intend to meet with him.

It is an interesting twist in the intra-clan struggle that demonstrates that the monolith of the power vertical against the background of the worsening economic situation has been shaken and that conflicts within it are inevitable.

He adds that the walkout was an intrigue “aimed at, in part, Surkov and the leadership of the Central Election Commission.”

INDEM foundation head Georgy Satarov doubts the situation “will produce any effect, since our senior leadership does not like to create dangerous precedents, as it has shown repeatedly.”

Since the federal authorities are fairly monolithic, it can’t be excluded that some factions will appear that will decide to use the situation for an attack on Luzhkov. This is a completely possible scenario. Even if this is the reaction, it will nonetheless be useful. It will create a precedent. The important thing here isn’t motive, but real actions. How will Medvedev act? He will most likely run off to consult with his patron and then will do what his patron tells him to do.

As always, commentator Dmitry Oreshkin was blunt:

Of course, this “kow-towing revolt” will be pacified and put down and everyone will return to the Mother Church. But it means a lot. Churov shrugs and says: “That’s politics.” Maybe Churov doesn’t know that elections are politics. He is used to the idea that politics are bad and he simply transcribes figures and everyone cringes and is grateful to him. He carries out the political task that was given to him when he was appointed: Putin is always right.

It makes sense that the rebels are appealing to the president to guarantee theconstitution, although they know perfectly well that Churov is Putin’s man, not Medvedev’s. Politics are at heart very primitive, clan interests. In this case, the losing clans – the LDPR, A Just Russia, the Communists, and, of course, all the democrats – they are all interested in having an honest, working system for counting votes. And here they are united with the president. If he wants to run for a second term, he cannot allow Putin’s team to count the votes.

Finally, journalist and political commentator Yevgeny Kiselyov notes that the three revolting factions are thoroughly in bed with the Kremlin, but adds that “in the history of Russia there have been situations when revolts were led by political forces that had previously been absolutely loyal to the ruling regime and had played strictly according to the rules.”

I don’t mean to say that this demarche will lead to any titanic changed in the political system of the country. It is more likely that it won’t than that it will. But there is the concept of “materials fatigue.” You can bend something over and over again but at some indefinable moment, it suddenly breaks. I think this is the case with our Russian political life. You can go against elementary common sense, against all civilized concepts of democracy five times, 10 times, 100,000 times, but on the 100,001st time, even the most loyal ones lose their patience.

I think it is obvious that this vertical – which has been under construction for 10 years – sooner or later will break. There are some constructs that simply cannot stand the test of time. I don’t mean to say that these events are the bomb that will do it, but it is not possible to keep building higher and higher, more and more vertical, forever. It will shake and it will break. Horizontal constructions are a lot more stable and long-lasting.

-- Robert Coalson

About This Blog

The Power Vertical
The Power Vertical

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It offers Brian's personal take on emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or

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