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Russian poker with a marked deck
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-09-15 09:15:46
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Is the end of the last emperor who came in from the cold getting closer and is he going to give up power easily or is he going to become a puppeteer in the long Russian tradition that not even the Soviet regime stopped? The Russian Prime Minister, or better, the former Russian Prime Minister resigned excusing his act with these words, "Significant political events approaching," which refers to the coming presidential elections.

Russian President Vladimir Putin from his part was too eager to accept the resignation and appoint Mr. Viktor Zubkov, the head of the federal financial monitoring service, as the new prime minister. The name of the new prime minister is relatively unknown but not the service he was leading. For the last decade the Russian state found that the best way to go against the Russian mafia and occasionally opposition is to use the FBI’s very old methods. Remember how the FBI caught Al Capone? Yes, by accounting and finance! Now remember how many times we read on the news about the end of another Russian rich and famous by another economic scandal.

The change is significant for Russian politics, especially in the wait for more significant changes with parliamentary and presidential elections on their way for the next few months. According again to unwritten traditions the prime minister has a strong start for the coming elections and can replace Putin to become emperor in place of the emperor. However, the speculation till now has been that First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov was the most likely candidate to become prime minister and frontrunner for the presidential seat. But then who can foresee what Putin plans?

I somehow think that this is the question: What's in Putin’s mind? Vladimir Putin finishes his second presidential period and constitutionally he’s not allowed for a third. That’s the theory! In practice Putin and his advisors had checked the case of a constitutional change that would allow him more terms but research showed that people were not prepared to give him that and trouble might show even from the very beginning of a third term - of course, knowing that the struggle behind the Kremlin walls started early.

Mr. Ivanov worked with Putin in the Internal Intelligence Agency during the president’s spy years but Mr. Zibkov was Putin’s deputy on the St. Petersburg city external relations committee. So you see, these men have close ties with the emperor, they both know him well, most likely they are both aware of his plans, and, naturally, they are there, as they always have been, ready to serve!

Three possibilities look more likely. Putin, by appointing his close men, tries to take care of a smooth transaction between him and his successor; Putin wants to play the role of puppeteer by appointing men to the prime ministerial seat and later the president’s with the obvious aim of controlling the power behind the curtain. Last and that’s the scariest, the last Czar has a plan, which was to leave one of the puppets to play the president for sometime while controlling him from behind the stage - five years later the Czar is …back for ten years.

The other side looks a bit …check mate with Kasparov finding out that politics is not a chess game with strategies and moves. Politics is more like poker and in this case it is a poker game with Putin having marked all the cards!

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Emanuel Paparella2007-09-15 09:51:21
Indeed, Machiavelli's Prince has become an Emperor and he is naked but all his sycopahantic followers pretend he wears a beautiful suit called democracy. Do we still understand the essence of democracy in our brave new world?

But not to worry, eventually there will be a little child (a Havel for example)who does not subscribe to satire and power games who will shout "The emperor is naked; the emperor is naked." At that point the naked emperor will throw the child in jail and give him a copy of Machiavelli's Prince to read.

Jack2007-09-15 22:19:43
It is distinctly possible that Mr. Putin, even if not president, will play a significant (might we say, influential)role in Russia. Especially given the "piece placement" on the board. I fear more the unseen hand of the Mover than the piece itself, for there really lies the power. Who is really moving whom toward a checkmate? Scarry stuff.

Nice article.

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