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Who is truly calling the shots in Russia, Brian Whitmore asks in RFE/RL’s Power Vertical. Analysts are pointing out that Russia is run by a collective leadership. Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev are the front men, but decisions are arrived at largely by consensus among a group that includes 10 to 30 people.
Latvian political scientist and researcher Edvins Snore (Edvīns Šnore), director of the documentary film, The Soviet Story, gave a talk on the phenomenon of Soviet Communism at an event organised by the Finnish organisation, Pro Karelia, in Helsinki on 6 June 2011. Below, the full text of Mr Snore’s talk:
I want to thank the organisers of this event for inviting me to take part. I am delighted to be here in Finland and to speak about a subject, which is important to the Baltic people, which is known in Finland also, but which is less known in the rest of Western Europe. That subject is Soviet Communism and its legacy today.
Russia’s anti-government opposition has announced that it plans to march on the Kremlin. Opposition leaders Eduard Limonov, Vladimir Bukovsky, and Konstantin Kosyakin left notice to the Moscow mayor’s office about a planned rally in defence of the freedom of assembly on Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square on 31 January 2011. The rally would be followed by a march to the Kremlin.
While the US diplomatic cables leaked to WikiLeaks have mostly failed to disclose anything about Russia that was not known before, the sheer volume of the documents depicting the vast system of corruption that the Kremlin’s puppet masters have dubbed the “power vertical” may indeed be a revelation to Western audiences.
Going through the trove of diplomatic cables leaked to WikiLeaks, The Guardian’s veteran correspondent, Luke Harding, describes Russia as a “corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs, and organised crime are bound together to create a virtual mafia state.”
Arms trafficking, money laundering, personal enrichment, protection for gangsters, extortion and kickbacks, suitcases full of money, and secret offshore bank accounts in Cyprus: the cables paint a bleak picture of a political system in which it is often hard to distinguish between the activities of the government and organised crime.
While supporters of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are pushing him to establish himself as a stronger tandem member, many political experts increasingly believe that no matter who becomes president in 2012, the road to the presidency still runs through Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Medvedev’s personal relationship with Putin, lack of a party foundation, and a small pro-Medvedev bureaucratic cadre limit his ability to be reelected without Putin’s consent. With the election not until 2012, wildcards such as political instability, health concerns, or a major economic decline could change the tandem equation, but experts perceive that no matter whether Putin, Medvedev, or someone else becomes President in 2012, Putin will have the final word.