Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russia Report: April 15, 2004

15 April 2004, Volume 4, Number 14
By Gordon A. Hahn

It is now time to cease using the terms such as "managed democracy," "illiberal democracy," and even "hybrid regime" with respect to Russia. It is now clear that in the course of 2002-03, the regime in Russia underwent a gently imposed transition from its rather weak "illiberal" democratic form of rule to a soft authoritarian regime. Although the distance from one point to the other is not great, it is significantly fraught with several theoretical and practical political implications. The emerging stealth-like form of authoritarianism that has emerged under President Vladimir Putin's leadership is a very soft and consciously limited form of authoritarianism at present. Several features distinguish this minimalist "stealth authoritarianism" from both weak "illiberal democracy" and harsher forms of authoritarian and totalitarian rule.

First, Putin's stealth authoritarianism is consciously implemented and constructed so as to be minimal, nearly imperceptible, and thus credibly deniable. Putin has imposed real limits on stealth authoritarianism and ensured that it operates behind a veneer of declared, if not always real, legality. On numerous occasions, Putin has rejected proposals for creating a sultanist form of personal rule based on a life-long term for presidency, a lengthening of the presidential term to two seven-year rather than four-year terms, and presidential appointment of regional chief executives. In a speech broadcast live on the radio on 19 December 2002 he said he has "no wish to place appointed personages at the head of the regions." In a late 2003 statement, he by implication held open the door for a possible five-year presidential term. However, any such change would require the rather lengthy constitutional amendment process. It is unlikely at this juncture that it could be completed by the end of his second term.

Almost all of the policies undertaken in constructing stealth authoritarianism have been couched in terms of establishing the law as supreme arbiter in the Russian state and society under the slogan "the dictatorship of the law." Television stations are closed down, oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovskii and his underlings are arrested, and political parties and candidates are refused registration or are barred from election campaigns allegedly because of illegal financial machinations or some other violation of the law, sometimes real, sometimes not. Internally, this reduces the opposition's will to resist it, and externally this facilitates a rather limited degree of international criticism, particularly from the West, where criticism and dissatisfaction could lead to limits on inter-elite contacts, trade, and business investment. The Russian leadership's ability to defend the new order with a straight face as democracy, even if managed democracy, is enhanced by its argument that its apparently illiberal actions are undertaken solely to strengthen law and order. Thus, according to a recent opinion poll conducted by the Russian agency VTsIOM-A, almost half of Russia's citizens regard President Putin as playing the role of guarantor of democracy and political freedoms, while 43 percent disagreed with this statement. Similarly, another such survey found that 51 percent of Russians do not see Russia's "democracy gains" being threatened by anyone. Thus, an extraordinarily large number of Russians support democratic values and freedoms just as they support President Putin, whom they do not see as a threat to democracy.

Second, Putin's stealth authoritarianism is limited by a hegemonic rather than a monopolistic centralization of power. A pyramid of power has been constructed: the president is the leader of the presidential administration, the presidential administration is hegemon within the executive branch, the executive branch is the hegemon over the legislative and judicial branches at the federal (and regional) level of government, the federal level of government is the hegemon over the regions within the "executive vertical" of state power, and the state's power far outweighs that of civil society.

The best example of the undemocratic nature of this situation is the federal legislature's domination by representatives of the executive-branch bureaucracy, state enterprises, and state-allied businesses. The Federal Assembly's upper house, the Federation Council, was reorganized to consist of appointed senators, who are appointed in the regions but under considerable pressure from the presidential administration and allied oligarchs. The lower house, the State Duma, is now controlled by a Unified Russia majority (306 of 444 deputies) dominated by former federal and regional civilian and silovik (power ministry) bureaucrats, and representatives of state enterprises and Kremlin-allied private business elites. The party of power is composed, run, and organized on the basis of the state bureaucracy, beginning at the federal level. Thus, until his election as Duma speaker, Boris Gryzlov headed Unified Russia and held the post of interior minister. Thus one of Russia's highest law-enforcement officials for several years violated federal law, which forbids officials of such rank to hold high posts in political parties.

At the regional level, the heads of 37 of Russia's 89 regions occupied the top 37 slots in Unified Russia's regional party list for the December 2003 Duma election. After being elected to the Duma, these regional governors and republic presidents did not, however, take up seats in the State Duma, meaning that voters elected empty seats for the party, which then nominated deputies as it pleased. Officials of state enterprises, the natural monopolies, and the recently Kremlin-tamed oligarchic financial-industrial groups account for 45 of Unified Russia's 306 deputies in the Duma and 59 of the Duma's 444 deputies. Declared holders of stock in such enterprises include 64 Unified Russia deputies and 92 Duma deputies overall. Thus, a third of the Unified Russia's Duma faction and of the Duma deputies overall have ties to state-connected big business. The Duma represents not elements of civil society, but factions within the state bureaucracy and the business community connected to it.

Nevertheless, some power is diffused to some institutions and executive-branch officials beyond the president and his administration. The courts on occasion still rule against state prosecutors, including in several recent high-profile spy cases, and most recently the Russian Supreme Court's Presidium denied to consider the appeal of Colonel Yurii Budanov, who has been found guilty of murdering a Chechen girl and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a lower court. With the initiation of jury trials in certain cases, this may become a less rare occurrence. Governors and regional legislatures are elected, and are still forced to take into account the situation in their region, not just Moscow's preferences.

Within limits, regional governors are allowed to shape the polity, political economy, and society within their regions. Although the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party is coming to dominate one-by-one the regions' legislatures, the Kremlin still loses or at least plays on the fence in some elections of regional chief executives. The Kremlin has had to tolerate or cut compromises with several influential national-republic presidents, especially Tatarstan's Mintimer Shaimiev and Bashkortostan's Murtaza Rakhimov. However, such regional leaders' power is strictly limited to the regional level as a result of Putin's federative reforms. Finally, the state has not placed any serious limits on the right of association, and on occasion public organizations succeed in pressuring the state to change course, as was the case with the recent review of the new federal law on compulsory automobile insurance.

The recentralization of federal-regional relations and the dismantling of former President Boris Yeltsin's asymmetrical federalism, if not of federalism itself, is a third feature of the rollback of democracy under stealth authoritarianism. Federalism is democracy within the territorial and multicommunal character of large multicommunal states and societies. Throughout the 1990s, federalism and related consociational mechanisms helped contain communalism -- that is, ethno-national, linguistic, and religious aspirations for self-determination and even secession -- and intercommunal conflict, with the exception of the Chechen wars. The federal center managed under these federative and consensus-building institutions, however weak they were, to avoid major intercommunal conflicts with over a hundred nationalities and limit self-determination aspirations to demands for internal self-administration in 31 of 32 national autonomies (the exception being Chechnya).

Yeltsin's ad hoc "asymmetrical federalism," like somewhat similar though more developed and effective systems in Spain and India, afforded the regions, especially the ethno-national republics, considerable autonomy in their cultural, economic, and political affairs. Yeltsin signed a series of 42 power-sharing treaties with 46 regional governments, most often the national republics, to provide much of this autonomy. In Tatarstan, this was enough, along with President Shaimiev's more cautious and pragmatic political leadership (as compared with Dzhokar Dudaev in Chechnya), to prevent a second Chechnya on Russian territory, one that would have exploded the entire federation. The federal-regional treaty-making process, while bringing in an element of consensual agreement and negotiation, was not well-institutionalized or democratic. The federal and regional parliaments played no role in the adoption of such treaties, and the national populations were completely excluded from the process. Instead of parliamentary approval and several-stage-referendum process as occurred in the adoption of Spain's statutes of autonomy, Russia's power-sharing treaties and attendant agreements were purely inter-executive-branch affairs. State building, in other words, occurred in a way consistent with the pattern of revolution from above.

Still, this process, as well as other institutional arrangements, constituted an acceptable start to federation building. The various institutions needed to be improved, but under Putin they have been destroyed Indeed, his federative reforms have rolled back all federative and consociational mechanisms, while leaving the facade of some federative institutions and consociational mechanisms in place. Thus, all 42 of Yeltsin's federal-regional power-sharing treaties with 46 regions have been allowed to expire or were abrogated under Putin. It is unclear whether regions like Tatarstan and Bashkortostan that forged the power-sharing-treaty process at the founding of Russia's asymmetrical federalism will be allowed to conclude new treaties with Moscow, and if they are, what if any autonomy and thus asymmetry they will provide. However, a power-sharing treaty with an increasingly subdued Chechnya is now being negotiated with its fundamentally loyal leadership implanted by the Kremlin through the deeply flawed election of Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov.

Under Yeltsin, the Federation Council more or less performed the function it should in federal democracies: representing equally the interests of regions, and sometimes communal groups, as compensation for the unequal representation of minorities and small, less powerful regions in the lower house. The Federation Council was initially made up of two popularly elected senators from each of Russia's 89 federation subjects or regions. Later under Yeltsin, the council consisted ex officio of each region's regionally elected chief executive and legislative assembly chairman. Under this method of selecting senators, they were still elected officials. The regional chief executive-senators were popularly elected in their regions, and legislative assembly chairmen-senators were popularly elected as deputies before being elected by the regional assembly as its chairman.

Putin reorganized the Federation Council so that instead it is comprised of two appointees from each of the 89 regions: one appointed by the region's chief executive, the other by the region's legislature. Appointees rarely come from among the ranks of elected regional officials, such as deputies from the regional legislatures. Indeed, they are often appointed under intense pressure from the Kremlin, using its full panoply of administrative resources, compromising materials, and political as well as financial inducements. Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, a Putin ally, was elected a senator from St. Petersburg in just this way. Indicative of Putin's ability to pack the upper house is the representation of the Republic of Tuva (Tyva). Both of its senators hail not from Tyva, but from St. Petersburg: Lyudmila Narusova, the wife of Putin's onetime mentor, the deceased St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak; and Sergei Pugachev, head of St. Petersburg's Mezhprombank, who has close ties to Putin, the Russian Orthodox Church, and former and present Federal Security Service (FSB) officials. Thus, the institution of an upper house remains, but it has been shorn of its federative function.

The Yeltsin-era "arrangement" allowed for clear violations of his own 1993 constitution and federal legislation, making for an "unofficial" or illegal asymmetry in Russian federalism. Regional constitutions and laws violated federal norms even after Russia's Constitutional Court struck down the offending regional norms. The federal government joined in the orgy of illegality, signing federal-regional bilateral treaties that frequently violated its own constitution. However, all this compensated for the potential of hyper-centralization under the Russian Constitution. It specifies and sets aside a long list of powers solely for the federal government and another long list of joint federal-regional powers, but it gives to the regions sole power over whatever is left. The limited leftovers for the regions combined with the constitution's other stipulation that federal law takes precedence in the event that federal and regional laws on issues coming under joint federal-regional competence contradict each other means that the degree of decentralization rests entirely on Moscow's willingness to decentralize. Under Putin such willingness has disappeared. Asymmetry has been eliminated, and regional autonomy has been reduced to a minimum by forcing regional constitutions and laws into conformity with their federal counterparts. This means that centralization has returned with an absurd vengeance. Thus, federal law now dictates the size of traffic-violation fees in Tatarstan.

Moreover, whereas under Yeltsin, regional autonomy was backed up with the necessary material and financial base, Putin has recentralized state ownership and federal-regional interbudgetary relations. The Yeltsin administration's federal-regional treaties and attendant agreements that gave property, land, and special tax breaks to many regions, especially the national republics, no longer function. Whereas under Yeltsin overall federative fiscal policy maintained an approximate 50/50 balance between revenues kept in Moscow and those distributed to the regions, under Putin the ratio has reached a much more centralized ratio of 67/33 in favor of the center.

Under Yeltsin, an element of "consociational" or consensus rule (as opposed to majority rule) was deployed within the federal legislative process through a form of the "minority veto." Any piece of draft federal legislation could be forced into a federal-regional "conciliation procedure" if in more than a third of Russia's regions, the federal or executive branch protested a draft law going through the federal parliament. Putin has raised the bar for regional veto of draft legislation and reversion to the federal-regional conciliation procedure. Now both branches of one-third of Russia's regions must challenge a draft law to take it off the table and send it into conciliation. This is virtually impossible to achieve given the Kremlin's co-optation of the regional governors and republican presidents through various carrots (third terms) and sticks (administrative resources and "kompromat").

Moreover, not only have Putin's federative reforms undermined the institutional containment of communalism, some of his other policies threaten to provoke ethno-political mobilization and conflict. Amendments to Russia's laws on political parties and elections were reformed in ways that impinged on communal minorities' political rights. Political parties based on minority ethnic, religious, or linguistic groups are forbidden from running candidates in elections. This will not necessarily achieve the integrative goals set out by the administration. The leading Muslim party simply renamed itself and managed to get registered to run in December's elections to the State Duma, rather than disband or merge or join in a coalition with a more generic party. The ban on such parties is likely to alienate ethnic and religious minorities, especially the Muslim nationalities, from the political process. Such policies, because they impinge on the most basic level of communalist aspirations for autonomy -- those spheres directly related to their national identity -- provoked considerable outrage from Tatars and other nationalities.

In addition, the Kremlin has sought, though often failed, to institute more assimilative cultural, education, and language policies in relation to its non-Russian identity groups. There was the Education Ministry's failed effort to introduce a mandatory course on Russian Orthodoxy in Russian elementary schools. There was an effort to ban Tatarstan's plans to convert Tatar from the Cyrillic to the Latin alphabet. There also was a failed attempt to forbid Muslim women from wearing head scarves when being photographed for their passports. The failure to implement such policies suggests again the real limits of authoritarianism in its soft, stealth-like form under Putin. However, should such policies be pursued further against the background of continued weakening and dismantling of core communalism-containment mechanisms, Putin risks a backlash by national minorities and autonomies.

Gordon Hahn is a William J. Fulbright Visiting Professor at the School of International Relations at St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg.

This week President Vladimir Putin spoke out against a controversial bill on street protests that would have limited Russian citizens' constitutional right to public assembly. "Why should anyone today need to limit the rights and freedom of citizens to protest and march?" Putin said on 12 April, according to RIA-Novosti. The draft bill was authored by the government and passed by the State Duma in its first reading on 31 March.

This is not the first time the Duma has approved something that the president later rejected as too severe. In 2002, for example, Putin vetoed amendments to the media law relating to coverage of antiterrorism operations. But since the current State Duma's leaders make no secret of their close cooperation with the presidential administration, it is hard to understand why they would waste time on what later turns out to be, at best, an empty gesture or, at worst, a legislative nonstarter that damages the government's image at home and abroad.

There are several possible explanations, including the possibility of a breakdown in communications between the Kremlin and Duma. After all, the government is in the middle of a reorganization, and long-time presidential envoy to the Duma Aleksandr Kotenkov was recently replaced. But it is also possible that some legislative projects -- at least in their early phases -- function as trial balloons. If the outcry is not too loud, the bill proceeds.

With this recent controversy over the bill on public demonstrations in the background, it perhaps makes sense to pay attention to media reports alleging that initiatives are being worked on in secret that would regulate the Internet. Members of the State Duma's Information Policy Committee deny any knowledge of any such bill, but the reports keep appearing. reported on 2 March that there are two draft bills currently circulating that would regulate the Internet. One has reportedly already been approved by "the relevant committees of the State Duma and by the Foreign Ministry," while another, much more liberal version that was authored by Stanislav Petrovskii of the legal consulting firm United Energy was entered into an international competition for the best legislative initiative in the sphere of the defense of human rights, the website reported. (see Petrovskii's homepage at Work on documents regarding the Internet is being conducted in "strict secrecy," reported, noting that "perhaps that is why Valerii Komissarov, chairman of the [Duma] Information Policy Committee, denied that his committee is doing any work on bills on the Internet." Komissarov said there is "an understanding that these questions should be examined legislatively," but only at some point in the future.

Also in early March, the little-known information agency IT-Daily carried a report that the Duma is working on a law "on the Internet" in "strict secrecy." The agency also reported that the bill has been approved by "the relevant committee and the Foreign Ministry," but added the detail that the Foreign Ministry has recommended that suggestions of the UN and UNESCO be incorporated into the draft. Responding to the report, the Russian Committee of UNESCO's Information for All program issued a press release saying that "different projects and schemes, called on to regulate everything -- from the functioning of the Internet to falling of rain on the territory of the Russian Federation -- are appearing regularly," VolgaInform reported on 4 March. The press release continued, "Therefore, we cannot confirm that a law on the Internet exists."

Aleksei Demidov, deputy chairman of the Russian Committee for the UNESCO Information for All program, told the agency that UNESCO has not made any kind of recommendations that could be used for developing any kind of law regulating the Internet. Asked to comment on the media reports of an Internet bill, Yelena Bolchinskaya, an adviser to the Duma's Security Committee, said: "An official agreement on the concept of the bill exists at the stage of preparation for the first reading. However, such a bill has not been introduced to the Duma and is not on the Duma's agenda."

These denials, however, have not quashed the story. Later in March, a new report with different details appeared about the preparation of an Internet bill. "Russkii kurer" reported on 17 March that, according to its unidentified sources on the Duma's Information Policy Committee, a bill has been developed by Kremlin officials that would limit access to the Internet with the goal of combating pornography, spam, and intellectual piracy. According to the daily, the bill will be submitted to the Duma and considered this fall before the first reading of a new draft law on the mass media.

"Russkii kurer" claimed that information about the project is "classified," and that no one from the Information Policy Committee or the Science and Technology Committee will say anything about it publicly. Echoing Komissarov's earlier denials, Information Policy Committee Deputy Chairman Boris Reznik told the daily: "I have heard nothing about this bill. However, such attempts are repeatedly undertaken. The last of these was a legislative initiative by a deputy of the last Duma, Aleksandr Shubin of the Union of Rightist Forces faction. Personally, I am against any kind of limits and am extremely opposed to any prohibitive measures. We obviously do not want to take the path of [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Il." General Director Anton Nosik is not quite so sanguine. He told on 2 March that a law limiting Internet access was prepared in 1999 by then-Media Minister Mikhail Lesin and then-Communications Minister Leonid Reiman. However, at the last minute Putin refused to back it. "Putin does not have the political will to say directly 'We are China' and to sign a law on total control over the Internet," Nosik said.

In a provocative paper delivered to a gathering of British academics last April, Oxford University's Marcus Alexander suggests that while authoritarian governments have traditionally responded to the Internet revolution by censoring information, "an authoritarian government can learn how to appropriate the benefits of the Internet to increase its control over the public information space." As Alexander points out, government-controlled online media blossomed during Putin's first term, while at the same time the Kremlin launched an aggressive government policy to influence Internet users through commercial competitions and regulation. Alexander concludes that the government only has an incentive to introduce censorship or direct propaganda if its efforts to determine Internet content fail. (Julie A. Corwin)

By Victor Yasmann

The recent conviction of researcher Igor Sutyagin on espionage charges is only the latest in a spate of similar cases in Russia involving researchers, journalists, diplomats, and former security agents accused of having improper contacts with foreigners.

An unidentified spokesman for a Russian secret service told Interfax on 9 April that Western intelligence agencies -- particularly those of the United States -- have stepped up their work against Russia. "Among all the special services involved in intelligence activity against Russia over the last five years, the most active has been U.S. intelligence," the source said.

That statement was made in connection with the recent conviction on espionage charges of researcher Igor Sutyagin, who was sentenced on 7 April to 15 years' imprisonment for spying for the United States. Sutyagin, a former researcher with the Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada, was arrested by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents in Kaluga on 27 October 1999. He was accused of passing state secrets to a British consulting firm that the FSB charges was a front organization for U.S. intelligence. Throughout his ordeal, Sutyagin has maintained his innocence, saying that he never had access to secret information and that all the information he provided was culled from open sources.

On 9 April, the new political movement Committee 2008, which was formed recently by a group of liberal politicians and journalists, released a statement calling the Sutyagin verdict "unjust and biased because the trial failed to establish that secrets were indeed passed or that the foreign citizens with whom Sutyagin was linked worked for foreign intelligence services," reported.

The same day, Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada Director Sergei Rogov described the Sutyagin sentence as "overly severe," adding that he hopes the Supreme Court will "revise it," reported. "I am displeased that the institute has been depicted in the mass media as a nest of the CIA," Rogov said, "and by the fact that we have drawn the attention of the intelligence services. But how can one judge the level of the interest of the secret services [to the institute]? I cannot say that that interest has increased in recent years."

The Sutyagin trial is just one of a spate of similar cases involving researchers, journalists, diplomats, and former security agents accused of having improper contacts with foreigners. Here are some of the major cases from recent years.

1996: Navy Captain Aleksandr Nikitin was arrested and accused of divulging state secrets in a report he prepared for the Norwegian ecological organization Bellona on the radioactive contamination of the Barents Sea by the Northern Fleet. The St. Petersburg Municipal Court acquitted him in December 1999.

1997: Military journalist and Navy Captain Grigorii Pasko was charged with passing state secrets to Japanese journalists. In December 2001, he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison. He was granted early release from prison in January 2003.

1998: Senior diplomat Valentin Moiseev was arrested and charged with spying for South Korea. In 1999, a Moscow court convicted him and sentenced him to 12 years' imprisonment. That sentence was later reduced to 4 1/2 years.

1999: Pacific Ocean Studies Institute Professor Vladimir Shchurov was arrested in Vladivostok and accused of disclosing state secrets to China. In August 2003, he was convicted and sentenced to two years' probation. He was immediately released under an amnesty.

1999: Businessman Viktor Kalyadin was arrested and accused of spying for the United States. He was convicted and sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment in October 2001.

2000: The Baltic Fleet Military Court sentenced Navy Captain Sergei Velichko to five years' imprisonment after convicting him of spying for Sweden. Velichko reportedly confessed that he had worked for Swedish intelligence since 1996.

2000: Retired U.S. Naval Intelligence officer Edmund Pope was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment by a Moscow court for spying for the United States. He was pardoned by President Vladimir Putin and sent back to the United States.

2000: Bauman Moscow State Technical University Professor Anatolii Babkin was arrested in August 2000 together with Edmund Pope on charges of spying for the United States. In February 2003 he was convicted and given eight years' probation.

2001: Krasnoyarsk Technological Institute physicist Valentin Danilov was arrested and accused of spying for China. He was acquitted by a jury in December 2003.

2003: Former FSB officer and lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin is arrested and accused of revealing state secrets. His case is now before the Moscow Military District Court.

"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 7 April published a primer of 16 such cases.

Some analysts believe that Sutyagin was unlucky in that he was arrested in 1999, when Putin was FSB director. FSB officers now are taking particular pains to show that cases developed during that period were sound. However, there can be little doubt that the escalating phenomenon of "spymania" is a result of the renaissance that the former KGB apparatus has undergone since Putin came to power in 2000.

Domestic and foreign observers alike have lost count of the number of former KGB, FSB, military intelligence, and Foreign Intelligence Service officers who have been given senior positions within the presidential administration, the government, and regional administrations. In addition, many have become regional governors or have been elected to national and local legislatures. And many of these figures do not conceal their desire to avenge the disorientation and humiliation they experienced during the reform era of the 1990s.

The role of the security organs, police, and intelligence services in the domestic and international affairs in Russia toady has become so pronounced that journalists have been obliged to invent the euphemism "siloviki" in order to avoid constantly enumerating the security agencies involved. Moreover, the visible role played by security veterans in public life must not be allowed to obscure that fact that a much larger number of people who owe their political careers to their covert collaboration with the Soviet-era security organs are also occupying key positions.

Their names are unknown -- and will likely never be known -- because Russia has never adopted a lustration law that would have purged the state apparatus of secret-police collaborators. In fact, such a law has never been seriously discussed in Russia. The only person who tried, unsuccessfully, to get a lustration bill through the Duma was Democratic Russia leader Galina Starovoitova, who was assassinated in St. Petersburg in November 1998. The men accused of carrying out that killing are now on trial in St. Petersburg, although the case so far has revealed little about the motivation or the organizers of the crime.

The enhanced role of former KGB and other secret-service veterans in Russia has given impetus to a real process of cultural counterrevolution in Russian society, in reaction against the liberal values of the 1990s reforms, and in an attempt to return to Soviet traditions and norms.

It is impossible to go into any Russian-language bookstore anywhere in the world without noticing the dozens of recent titles glorifying various KGB operations. In addition, all the national television stations in Russia regularly rerun Soviet-era movies, many of which are devoted to the glorious struggle of the KGB against Western "imperialist" intelligence agencies. Newer programs frequently glorify the exploits of Russian special-forces troops fighting in Chechnya. All of these phenomena are melding together into the emergent ideology of national revanche, and it is not surprising that in such an atmosphere a jury found Sutyagin guilty and ruled that did "not deserve leniency."

Supporters of Putin often argue that it is natural that he, a former intelligence officer, would rely on his colleagues just as a president with a business background might be expected to bring private-sector representatives into his administration. But whatever the motive, the result is that spymania and other attributes of the secret-service mentality will continue to be prominent elements of Russian public life, and domestic policy will continue to be transformed into little more than a series of special operations

IN: President Putin signed a decree on 9 April appointing Andrei Belyaninov director of the Federal Service for Defense Contracts, replacing Vladimir Matyukhin. Belyaninov most recently served as director of Rosoboroneksport. Putin also reappointed Mikhail Dmitriev as director of the Federal Service for Military-Technological Cooperation and Army General Nikolai Abroskin as director the Federal Agency for Special Construction. He also named Natalya Timakova head of the presidential press service and information administration. Timakova previously headed just the press service, according to "Izvestiya" on 10 April.

KEPT: Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin has decided to retain Tatyana Golikova and Sergei Shatalov as his two deputy ministers, RIA-Novosti reported on 8 April. On 12 April, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov confirmed Andrei Sharanov and Vitalii Savelev as deputy ministers for economic development and trade.

IN: President Putin appointed former First Deputy Justice Minister Aleksandr Karlin on 8 April as head of the new Civil Service Directorate within the presidential administration, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 9 April. Karlin most recently served as first deputy justice minister.

OUT: On 7 April, Prime Minister Fradkov dismissed First Deputy Health Minister Anatolii Vyalkov in order to transfer him to another position that was not specified, RosBalt and reported. On 12 April, Fradkov dismissed Deputy Health Minister Anton Katlinskii.

IN: President Putin has named Vladimir Kotenev as Russia's ambassador to Germany, replacing Sergei Krylov, Interfax reported on 7 April. Kotenev previously served as director of the Foreign Ministry's consular service. On 13 April, Putin appointed Aleksei Borodavkin, former ambassador to Slovakia, as Russia's permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, ITAR-TASS reported. Borodavkin replaces Aleksandr Alekseev.

IN: The legislature of Ust-Ordynskii Buryatskii Autonomous Okrug elected on 9 April former soccer player Valerii Gladilin as its representative to the Federation Council, replacing Leonid Khutanov, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 10 April. Gladilin most recently worked as an adviser to the Ministry for Emergency Situations.

Mid-April: Interior Ministry to withdraw 3,000 troops from Chechnya

15 April: The Moscow Meshanskii court will hold a preliminary hearing into the criminal case against Menatep head Platon Lebedev on charges of swindling, nonpayment of taxes, and alienation of another person's property

16 April: An international conference on "Russia-EU Neighbors: Questions of Cooperation Across Borders" will be held in Pskov

17 April: People's Party will hold a party congress

18 April: Newly elected Altai Krai head Mikhail Yevdokimov and Arkhangelsk Oblast Governor Nikolai Kiseelv will be inaugurated

18 April: Russian Economic Forum will take place in London

20-21 April: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to visit Russia

22 April: Cabinet of ministers will discuss the issues connected with the privatization of state property

23 April: First anniversary of the killing of State Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov

24 April: Second congress of the People's Patriotic Union-Motherland, which is headed by former presidential candidate Sergei Glazev, will be held

28 April: A working group of the presidium of the State Council will meet in Vladivostok to discuss development and competitiveness of Russia's fishing industry

May: Federal Atomic Energy Agency head Aleksandr Rumyantsev to visit Iran, according to ITAR-TASS

1 May: Date by which Russia expects talks with EU and its future members to conclude

3-4 May: Labor Day holiday observed

7 May: President Putin to be inaugurated for his second term

9 May: Date by which a decree elaborating functions of newly restructured ministries will be adopted and departmental statutes will be ratified, according to Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zhukov on 16 March

10 May: Victory Day holiday observed

14-28 May: Metropolitan Lazarus, head of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, will visit Russia, according to Interfax

19 May: Agrarian Party must settle its financial accounts with the Central Election Commission or face a ban on political activity

30 May: Date by which prosecutors must either complete their criminal investigation of former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovskii or ask a Moscow court to extend his period of pretrial detention

1 June: New deadline for exchanging Soviet-era passports for new Russian passports

20 June: Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney will perform a concert in St. Petersburg's Palace Square

28-29 June: President Putin invited to attend NATO summit in Istanbul

1 July: First anniversary of the creation of Federal Antinarcotics Agency

2 July: End of State Duma's spring session

3 July: Communist Party will hold congress to hear reports and elect new party officials

September: St. Petersburg's Hermitage Museum plans to open the Hermitage Center, which will exhibit works from the Hermitage's collection, in the city of Kazan

31 October: Presidential elections in Ukraine

November: Gubernatorial election in Pskov Oblast

22 November: President Putin to visit Brazil

December: A draft law on toll roads will be submitted to the Russian government, according to the Federal Road Agency's Construction Department on 6 April

December: Gubernatorial elections in Bryansk, Kamchatka, and Ivanovo oblasts.