Posts Tagged ‘russia’

The Kassandra Project

 

Kassandra hits the target! In our article “Russia’s government: “a department in the Kremlin Corporation”” we said “Putin implemented in Russia the basis of the economic and political (and also of information?) power described by Orwell in “1984” and in movies as “V for Vendetta“. Are you thinking yet that Kassandra is fool?

In this case you won’t kill us if we use BBC and CNN link:

  • CNN: ” Putin backs Medvedev as successor“, MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) — Russian president Vladimir Putin has thrown his support behind deputy prime minister Dmitry Medvedev to replace him when he steps down as the country’s leader next year.
  • BBC: “Putin sees Medvedev as successor“, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has backed First Deputy PM Dmitry Medvedev to replace him as president next year, Russian media report.

Who is Medvedev? A chairman of Gazprom! But everyone underlines that he is not linked with secret services or KGB…

The prophecy of Kassandra has been realized. And what about the global market? The shares of Gazprom rose of 3%…

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Do you know which is the most powerful holding in Russia?

You could think it’s Gazprom, which wikipedia describes as follows:

JSC Gazprom (RTS: GAZP MICEX: GAZP LSE: OGZD; Russian: ОАО Газпром, sometimes transcribed as Gasprom[1]) is the largest Russian company and the biggest extractor of natural gas in the world. With sales of US$31 billion in 2004, it accounts for about 93 percent of Russian natural gas production; with reserves of 28,800 km³, it controls 16 percent of the world’s gas reserves (as of 2004[2], including the Shtokman field.) After acquisition of the oil company Sibneft, Gazprom, with 119 billion barrels of reserves, ranks behind only Saudi Arabia, with 263 billion barrels, and Iran, with 133 billion barrels, as the world’s biggest owner of oil and oil equivalent in natural gas.[3]

By the end of 2004 Gazprom was the sole gas supplier to at least Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia, Finland, Macedonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Slovakia, and provided 97 percent of Bulgaria’s gas, 89 percent of Hungary’s, 86 percent of Poland’s, nearly three-quarters of the Czech Republic‘s, 67 percent of Turkey‘s, 65 percent of Austria‘s, about 40 percent of Romania‘s, 36 percent of Germany’s, 27 percent of Italy’s, and 25 percent of France’s. [2] [3] The European Union as a whole gets about 25 percent of its gas supplies from this company. [4] [5]

Apart from its gas reserves and the world’s longest pipeline network (150,000 km), it also controls assets in banking, insurance, media, construction and agriculture.

You could think it’s Severstal, which wikipedia describes as follows:

Severstal (RTS: CHMF MICEX: CHMF) Russian: Северсталь, “Northern Steel”) is a Russian company mainly operating in the steelmining industry, centred in the northern city of Cherepovets. Severstal is listed in the RTS and LSE. As such it is the second largest steel company in Russia, behind Evraz Group. The majority of the company’s stock belongs to Alexei Mordashov. As “White Knight” Severstal was to merge with Arcelor, thus preventing a takeover of Arcelor by Mittal, but the Arcelor deal with Severstal was called off following criticism within the Arcelor board. Arcelor finally merged with Mittal Steel on 25 June 2006 to create Arcelor Mittal.

You could think it’s Norilsk Nickel, which we described in “Corporation-city: the hidden truth” and which Wikipedia describes as follows:

MMC Norilsk Nickel (RTS: GMKN MICEX: GMKN) (Russian: ГМК «Норильский Никель») is a nickel and palladium mining and smelting operator in the Norilsk–Talnakh area, in northern Russia. Norilsk is headquartered in Moscow and is also active in gold, platinum, copper and cobalt. The company is the world’s leading producer of nickel and palladium and is Russia’s leading gold producer. It is ranked among the top four world platinum producers, in association with subsidiary Stillwater Mining Company of Billings, Montana Denver, Colorado. It is ranked among the top ten copper producers.

July 6, 2007 Norils Nickel announced it has acquired about 90 per cent of Canada’s LionOre Mining International Ltd. LionOre is the world’s 10th-largest nickel producer. This takeover (valued in $6.4 billion US) is the biggest acquisition by a Russian company abroad so far.

The company is listed on NASDAQ and the RTS Stock Exchange. According to the company’s English-language website its activity accounts for up to 1.5% of Russia’s current gross domestic product. MMC stands for “Mining and Metallurgical Company”.

On October 2007 we could see the article “Inside The Corporation: Russia’s Power Elitewhere Whitmore spoke about “power elite”:

In his mission to restore Russia’s pride and prestige, President Vladimir Putin has repackaged the Soviet national anthem, reinvented patriotic pro-Kremlin youth groups, and revived the cult of the suave KGB officer.

But despite bringing back these old archetypes, Putin isn’t interested in a Soviet restoration. This time around, Russia’s path to greatness lies in a modern authoritarian corporate state. Some Kremlin-watchers have even dubbed the country’s Putin-era ruling elite “Korporatsiya,” or “The Corporation.”

“I like using the term ‘Kremlin, Inc.,'” says Russia analyst Nikolas Gvosdev, a senior fellow at the Nixon Center. “I think there are a number of boardroom strategies that apply to how policy in Russia is developed.”…

But in reality, Russia is run by a collective leadership — the Kremlin Corporation’s board of directors, so to speak. Putin is the front man and public face for an elite group of seasoned bureaucrats, most of whom are veterans of the KGB and hail from the president’s native St. Petersburg. Together, they run Russia and control the crown jewels of the country’s economy. All key political decisions in Russia, including Putin’s most recent bombshells, are the result of deliberation and consensus among members of a tight-knit inner sanctum many analysts have dubbed “the collective Putin.”

“These are people who have been with Putin from the very beginning,” says Olga Kryshtanovskaya, director of the Center for Elite Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology. “Together they thought up this model of the state and government that is in place now.”…

Most Kremlin-watchers place four people with Putin at the epicenter of power: two deputy Kremlin chiefs of staff, Igor Sechin and Viktor Ivanov; First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov; and FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev

…They want an authoritarian modernization. They want a strong authoritarian state of the Soviet type without the Soviet idiocy,” says Kryshtanovskaya. “The idiotic Soviet economy and the idiotic Soviet ideology were minuses. All the rest they want to bring back and preserve: a state system without a separation of powers.”If they succeed, the West and the world will be dealing with an even more undemocratic, assertive, and aggressive Russia for a long time to come…

We can now answer to our question posted at the end of “Russia’s elections: Putin gets over 60%“: Putin needs to be the President of Russia probabily for economic reasons. Infact, in October Whitmore wrote:

…As his presidency winds down, Putin isn’t acting like somebody who is preparing to go quietly into retirement.

Speaking to a group of Western academics in September, Putin said he planned to remain influential in Russian politics after his presidency ends next year. And in a speech to the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia party on October 1, he gave the clearest indication yet about how he plans to do so.

In addition to wielding near-absolute political power, Putin’s inner circle, or board of directors, also controls the commanding heights of the Russian economy…

…Just below the top tier of the Putin elite is a group of leading officials who, while not enjoying the same influence and access as the president’s inner sanctum, are nevertheless considered key players in the system whose interests must be taken into account.

Among them are Vladimir Yakunin, the chairman of Russian Railways; Viktor Cherkesov, the head of the Federal Antinarcotics Agency; Sergei Chemezov, general director of the arms export monopoly Rosoboroneksport; and First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is also chairman of Gazprom’s board of directors.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is among Putin’s key players (ITAR-TASS)Other key figures include Yury Kovalchyuk, chairman of the board of directors of Bank Rossiya; Aleksandr Grigoryev, director of Gosrezerv, the state reserve agency; Dmitry Kozak, the regional development minister (and former presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, which includes Chechnya and the remaining North Caucasus republics); and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin, who is chairman of the board of the Channel One television station and deputy chairman of Rosneft.

Such a concentration of commercial and political might has led to conflicts, despite the group’s ideological homogeneity. This has been most visible recently in Cherkesov’s long-standing and bitter feud with Patrushev and Sechin, which went public in early October. Cherkesov has long coveted Patrushev’s post as FSB chief. Patrushev and Sechin are wary of Cherkesov’s rising clout and Sechin and Sergei Ivanov are also fierce rivals for Putin’s ear and influence in the Kremlin.

…Putin’s Moscow-based team sits atop what Russians call the power vertical, a sprawling pyramid of political and economic might that stretches deep into the country’s far-flung regions and republics.

Provincial governors are appointed by the president, and confirmed by elected local legislatures — which in turn are dominated by Unified Russia. Presidential representatives with sweeping authority keep governors and local officials loyal to the Kremlin line.

Those who cross “The Corporation” can expect to feel the full weight of Russia’s heavily politicized law-enforcement bodies. For those who are ready to play ball with the Kremlin, however, there are spoils.

Through the governors and presidential prefects, the Kremlin controls a vast network of patronage that Kryshtanovskaya calls “a hierarchy that resembles the Soviet state nomenklatura,” in which the Communist Party would dole out coveted posts, privileges, and favors to loyal members.

…Andropov, who led the KGB from 1967 until 1982 when he became Soviet leader, sought to modernize the Soviet economy to make it more competitive with the West, while at the same time preserving an authoritarian political system in which the KGB would have a leading role. The authoritarian modernization he envisioned, Kryshtanovskaya says, resemble the one that carried out by China’s Communist leaders.“Andropov thought that the Communist Party had to keep power in its hands and to conduct an economic liberalization. This was the path China followed,” Kryshtanovskaya says. “For people in the security services, China is the ideal model. They see this as the correct course. They think that Yeltsin went along the wrong path, as did Gorbachev.”

Andropov died in 1984, less than 15 months after becoming Soviet leader, and was never able to implement his modernization plan. But two decades after his death, the group of fresh-faced KGB rookies he once inspired are poised to implement it for him.

Beyond 2008, analysts say Putin and his team are considering major changes in Russia’s political system to minimize the risk of succession crises in the future.

“The dilemma of the succession of power is one of the main problems facing the authorities since it always causes a crisis,” says Kryshtanovskaya. “They find troublesome direct elections in which all the people vote. They need either indirect elections through some kind of electors or assembly, or a change in the character of the power structures.”

This, of course, would require a major constitutional overhaul. But Dmitry Oreshkin notes that, given the dominant position Putin’s board of directors enjoys, that would not be much of an obstacle.

“Right now this group of people can do anything,” he says. “In this situation, who has the resources to oppose them or to disrupt their plans?

This article is quite worrying, because it proofs that Putin implemented in Russia the basis of the economic and political (and also of information?) power described by Orwell in “1984” and in movies as “V for Vendetta“. Are you thinking yet that Kassandra is fool?

Already on March 2004, BBC wrote some words about Kremlin Corporation in “Press views “cabinet of bureaucrats”“:

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the heavyweight broadsheet controlled by businessman-in-exile Boris Berezovsky, says that now, the government is “no more than a department in the “Kremlin corporation”.

People must know what is the truth. In the silence, Russia had successfully implemented what USA aren’t able to do already (but they will succeed soon…)!

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Vladimir Putin’s “United Russia” won the elections in Russia, with over 60% of consensus. The problem is that liberal and democratic parties do not exceed the barrage of 7%: this means that Putin and his party become the absolute masters of the nation.

GARRY KASPAROV, a russian opposition politician said ‘Russia Is Not a Democracy‘ and denunce his corruption in the Putin administration and elections.
He said that elections “will force the secretive Putin to reveal his strategy in the nail-biting political game gripping the country as Putin’s time in the Kremlin runs out” declaring “russian election a farce”.
Kasparov: “I think that Putin’s popularity is virtual in many respects. He certainly has legitimacy. He was elected, even though the elections were manipulated. But this legitimacy will end with the presidential election in March 2008. The current regime is beneficial to barely 15 percent of the population. Many among the remaining 85 percent — 120 million people — are dissatisfied“.

From Wikipedia:

“Putin was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) on October 7, 1952… Putin graduated from the International Branch of the Law Department of the Leningrad State University in 1975 and was recruited into the KGB. At the University he also became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and has never formally resigned from it.

He worked in the Leningrad and Leningrad region Directorate of the KGB, where he became acquainted with Sergei Ivanov.

In 1976 he completed KGB retraining courses. In 1978 he entered other foreign intelligence in Moscow. After completing the training he served in the First Department of the Leningrad Directorate (foreign intelligence) until 1983. In 1983-1984 he studied at the KGB High School in Moscow. In 1984 Putin was promoted to Major.

From 1985 to 1990 the KGB stationed Putin in Dresden, East Germany, in what he regards as a minor position. Following the collapse of the East German regime, Putin was recalled to the Soviet Union and returned to Leningrad, where in June 1991 he assumed a position with the International Affairs section of Leningrad State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov. In his new position, Putin grew reacquainted with Anatoly Sobchak, then mayor of Leningrad. Sobchak served as an Assistant Professor during Putin’s university years and was one of Putin’s lecturers. Putin formally resigned from the state security services on August 20, 1991, during the KGB-supported abortive putsch against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev…”

“His rise to Russia’s highest office ended up being even more rapid: on December 31, 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and, according to the constitution, Putin became (acting) President of the Russian Federation. While his opponents were preparing for an election later that year in June, Yeltsin’s resignation resulted in the elections being held within three months, in March. This put all of his opponents at a disadvantage, giving him the element of surprise and an eventual victory. Presidential elections were held on March 26, 2000; Putin won in the first round.

Vladimir Putin was inaugurated president on May 7, 2000. Having announced his intention to consolidate power in the country into a strict vertical, in May 2000 he issued a decree dividing 89 federal subjects of Russia between 7 federal districts overseen by representatives of him in order to facilitate federal administration. In July 2000, according to a law proposed by him and approved by the Russian parliament, Putin also gained the right to dismiss heads of the federal subjects.

In December 2000 Putin sanctioned the change of the National Anthem of Russia to restore (with a minor modification) the music of the pre-1991 Soviet anthem, but with new words.

On February 12 2001, Putin signed a federal law on guarantees for former presidents and their families (See Vladimir Putin legislation and program). In 1999 Yeltsin and his family were under scrutiny for charges related to money-laundering by the Russian and Swiss authorities.”

On March 14, 2004, Putin was re-elected to the presidency for a second term, earning 71 percent of the vote. During the term, Putin has been widely criticized in the West for what many observers consider a wide-scale crackdown on media freedoms. At the same time, according to 2005 research by VCIOM, the share of Russians approving censorship on TV has grown in a year from 63% to 82%; sociologists believe that Russians are not voting in favor of press freedom suppression, but rather for expulsion of ethically doubtful material (such as scenes of violence and sex).

On September 13, 2004, following the Beslan school hostage crisis, Putin suggested the creation of a Public Chamber of Russia and launched an initiative to replace the direct election of the governors and presidents of Federal subjects of Russia with a system whereby they would be proposed by the President and approved or disapproved by regional legislatures.

He also initiated the merger of a number of federal subjects of Russia into larger entities.

A significant amount of Putin’s second term has been focusing on domestic issues. According to various Russian and western media reports, Putin is extremely concerned about the ongoing demographic problems, such as the death rate being higher than the birth rate, cyclical poverty, and housing concerns within the Russian Federation. In 2005, four “national projects” were launched in the fields of health care, education, housing and agriculture. In his May 2006 annual speech, Putin proposed increasing maternity benefits and prenatal care for women. Putin has also been quite strident about the need to reform the judiciary. He considers the present federal judiciary as “Sovietesque” and prefers a judiciary that interprets and implements the code to the current situation, where many of the judges hand down the same verdicts as they would have under the old Soviet judiciary structure. In 2005, responsibility for federal prisons was transferred from the Interior Ministry to the Ministry of Justice.

One of the most controversial aspects of Putin’s second term was the prosecution of one of Russia’s richest men, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, President of Yukos oil company, for fraud and tax evasion. While much of the international press saw this as a reaction against a man who was funding political opponents of the Kremlin, both liberal and communist, the Russian government has argued that Khodorkovsky was engaged in corrupting a large segment of the Duma to prevent changes in the tax code aimed at taxing windfall profits and closing offshore tax evasion vehicles. Many of the initial privatizations, including that of Yukos, are widely believed to have been fraudulent (Yukos, valued at some $30bn in 2004, had been privatized for $110 million), and like other oligarchic groups, the Yukos-Menatep name has been frequently tarred with accusations of links to criminal organizations.

In recent years, the political philosophy of Putin’s administration has been described as “sovereign democracy”. The political term recently gained wide acceptance within Russia itself and unified various political elites around it. According to its supporters, Presidential policies must above all be supported by a popular majority in Russia itself and not be determined from outside the country; such popular support constitutes the founding principle of a democratic society.

In a 2007 interview with newspaper journalists from G8 countries Putin spoke out in favor of a longer presidential term in Russia, saying “a term of five, six or seven years in office would be entirely acceptable”. According to the constitution of Russia, the President is elected for a term of four years.

On September 12, 2007, Russian news agencies reported that Putin dissolved the government upon the request of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. Fradkov commented that it was to give the President a “free hand” to make decisions in the run-up to the parliamentary election. Viktor Zubkov was appointed the new prime minister.

If you want to read more about Putin, check this Wikipedia voice.

The question is: will it be the end of democracy in Russia? Are we seeing another Bush elections farce story?

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