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Andrei Illarionov: Approaching Zimbabwe

La Russophobe has posted a translation of an important opinion article by Andrei Illarionov, formerly one of Vladimir Putin’s most senior economic advisors who resigned in protest of his policies at the end of 2005, published recently in Yezhednevniy Zhurnal. On November 20, Illarionov and Robert Amsterdam participated in a speaking panel on Russian energy policy at the Cato Institute – a video of the event is here, and a magazine article (Cato Policy Report) from their speeches is here.

Approaching Zimbabwe By Andrei Illarionov In Russia a new model has been formed for the government, economic and socio-political order – the Power Model (silovaya model’). It is a model distinct from any seen in our country before, including at the beginning of this century or in the 70 years of Communist power. While much as been said and written about the separate elements of this system, its treatment as a whole has been lacking. What are the basic characteristics of the Power Model? In this model, the entire body of state power has been taken over by a group called the “siloviki”, which includes not only the “siloviki” themselves [TN: generally understood to be current and former intelligence officers], but also intelligence service collaborators, members of the Corporation of Intelligence Service Collaborators (Korporatsiya Sotrudniki Spets-Sluzhb) – the KSSS. [TN: A play on the initials of the late Communist Party of the Soviet Union, or KPSS.] As in any corporation, members of the KSSS have both individual and group interests. For example, on issues surrounding the ownership of one or another asset seized by the Corporation, ferocious arguments take place between its members. But the intensity of conflict within the Corporation is much weaker than between the Corporation and the rest of society. Because the Corporation preserves the traditions, hierarchies, skills and habits of the intelligence services, its members show a certain degree of obedience, loyalty to one another, and discipline. There are both formal and informal means of enforcing these norms. There is, for example, something like an “omerta” [TN: Mafia term for a code of silence]. Violators of the code of conduct are subject to the harshest forms of punishment, including the highest form. Members of the Corporation exude a sense of being the “masters of the country” and superior to other citizens who are not members of the Corporation. Members of the Corporation are given instruments conferring power over others – membership “perks”, such as the right to carry and use weapons. The Corporation has seized key government agencies – the Tax Service, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Parliament, and the government-controlled mass media – which are now used to advance the interests of KSSS members. Through these agencies, every significant resource of the country – security/intelligence, political, economic, informational and financial – is being monopolized in the hands of Corporation members. The legal order, previously much in doubt, is now being destroyed completely and replaced by new “rules of the game”, the main one being “selective enforcement of the law.” KSSS members have been placed above the law. The ideology of KSSS is “Nashism” (“ours-ism”), the selective application of rights. In economics, the efforts of the KSSS are focused on strengthening and advancing quasi-governmental monopolies (governmental in form, privatized in essence, but not formally under the control of any governmental agency), the main purpose of which is the privatization of profits and the nationalization of losses. A strong government-private partnership gathers revenues in order to force nominally private businesses to fulfill the demands of the Corporation. Members of the KSSS exercise control over the primary financial flows. The highest reward conferred by the Corporation is appointment of members to positions on the boards of directors of government- and quasi-government-owned companies. This principle holds for all members of the Corporation, whether they are citizens of Russia or former Chancellors of a foreign country.

Read complete article here.