Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Power Vertical

Russia's Ongoing Intellectual Warfare

Russia - President Dmitriy Medvedev at SCO summit in Yekaterinburg, 15Jun2009Russia - President Dmitriy Medvedev at SCO summit in Yekaterinburg, 15Jun2009
Russia - President Dmitriy Medvedev at SCO summit in Yekaterinburg, 15Jun2009
Russia - President Dmitriy Medvedev at SCO summit in Yekaterinburg, 15Jun2009
In a meeting on June 11 with heads of political parties not represented in the State Duma, President Dmitry Medvedev defended recent amendments to Russia's electoral law.

The modest changes make it slightly easier for small parties to win seats in the legislature. Medvedev told the leaders of Yabloko, Right Cause, and the Patriots of Russia that they are intended "to create a modern, more democratic political system in the country."

Perhaps Medvedev didn't get the memo.

Just a day earlier, the Public Projects Institute, a think tank with close ties to the ruling United Russia party, released a report saying that the last thing Russia needs is a more democratic system:

The democratization of Russia's political system cannot be a priority. The priority lies in effective management...Any attempt to suddenly abandon the long-term trend of gradual democratic development will only lead to political radicalization and further reaction.

As if on cue, political consultant Gleb Pavlovsky -- who has close ties to Russia's de facto ruler and de jure Prime Minister Vladimir Putin -- chimed in with these comments after the report was presented:

We must say openly that democratization is unacceptable as a slogan, exactly because democratization as a political program was not put in practice when this should have been done - in the late 80s - early 90s. This is now a missed program...Therefore we must reject the slogan of democratization but note that at the moment we are facing the need to adopt the radical option of political modernization.

Got that? Democracy -- bad. Modernization -- good. I was unaware the two were mutually exclusive.

And in case anybody missed the point, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on June 10 published the latest in a series of broadsides in the Russian media against Igor Yurgens, chair of the Institute for Contemporary Development, a think tank with close ties to Medvedev.

Yurgens has raised eyebrows in recent months by suggesting in a series of interviews with Western media that Russia needs to open up its political system in order to emerge from the current economic crisis.

The authors, Dmitry Andreyev and Vadim Prozorov, defend Putin's system of governance and accuse Yurgens of seeking "the role of head strategist of the new Kremlin" by urging Medvedev to launch "a new perestroika" to "meet the basic parameters of the G-8 member countries."

This intellectual warfare among opposing camps of pundits, think tankers, and consultants has been going on for awhile now, as we have chronicled here, here, and here.

But the persistence of Putin loyalists and the siloviki clan in opposing even a modest thaw, and the fierceness of their assault on Yurgens, suggests that they are getting very very nervous.

-- Brian Whitmore

Tags: projects, yurgens, institute, public, medvedev, Russia

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Comment Sorting
by: La Russophobe from: USA
June 16, 2009 09:18
Forget about intellectual warfare, what about ACTUAL warfare? Russia has just booted BOTH OSCE and UN observers out of Georgia, defying the will of the entire civilized world in doing so.

First Russia violated international law in provoking Georgia (the UN condemned Russian incursions and the OSCE condemned Russia's failure to rein in Ossetia), then it violated international law in attacking Georgia (crossing Georgia's border, killing its civilians with illegal weapons and annexing its territory), and now it is violating international law in ruling the disputed territories.

The Putin regime has run amok. It is obviously preparing the ground for a second strike on Georgia to depose its democratically elected government. Where are Yurgens and Medvedev while all this is happening? Nowhere to be seen or heard.

by: Timothy Post from: Russia
June 16, 2009 14:03
La "Chicken Little" Russophobe again makes claims about Russia with zero basis in fact.

If Russia were actually a country with belligerent expansionist tendencies, as LaR asserts, then in August 2008 Russia would have, and easily could have, overthrown the Saakashvili government in Tbilisi. Why is not Georgia now Russia southern-most oblast?

The answer is simple even if it upsets pro-NATO think tank extremists like La Russophobe and her financial backers.... Russia is NOT and never has been expansionist. Please name one time since the break-up of the Soviet Union when Russia used its military to over-take another country by force and claim the territory as part of Russia?

La Russophobe needs to claim that the sky is falling and that the Russians are coming in order to justify the eastward expansion of NATO. NATO wants to expand market share and sell weapons systems.

So it creates the false premise that Russia a danger to its neighbors. Fortunately, it's just all hot air.

by: La Russophobe from: USA
June 19, 2009 20:00
It's kind of hilarious how Mr. Post never chooses to tell anyone he's a businesman in Russia seeking to turn a personal profit by courting the Kremlin. Some might think that fact is relevant in assessing his "views."

Equally hilarious that he doesn't realize he's responding at length to comments he claims are meaningless.

It's rather offensive to PV's readers' intelligence, however, how he claims we've made fact errors without actually documenting a single one. Does he really think his silly smears will fool anyone?

Then, he just starts lying.

It's total nonsense to suggest that Russia could have overcome determined NATO resistance in Georgia, and with the president of Germany having rushed to Tbilisi that's EXACTLY what it would have faced if it had moved on the capital. Russia was scared off by NATO resolve, and if NATO continues to be vigilent, Russia will not attack again. It moved only because it perceived weakness on NATO's part after it failed to signal strong support for Georgian admission. Mr. Post obviously has no idea, as with most things, regarding the relative power of the NATO countries compared to Russia.

Mr. Post is apparently oblivious of the fact that Russia ANNEXED both Ossetia and Abkhazia, which had NOTHING to do with the military confrontation in Ossetia. It was a naked act of agression and it has been repudiated by every major nation in the world, including even China.

Finally, Mr. Post ignores Russia's barbaric refusal to allow international observers to do their jobs, flouting the will of the entire civilized world. He can offer no explanation for Russia's conduct because THERE IS NONE other than a preparation for future aggression.

About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers 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