Clans and the Real Triumvirate

I didn’t have time yesterday to publish this link, but better late than never.  Sublime Oblivion has put up a translation of an introduction to a book by Vladimir Pribylovsky entitled “Phantom Tandem, Real Triumvirate and the Kremlin Clan Wars,” which takes a look at who’s who behind the scenes and out front in the Kremlin.  For many seasoned Russia obsessives, Pribylovsky’s laundry lists of names will be redundant, and there may be some disputed characterizations (such as the role of Cherkesov, whom many see as more an instrument than a player) … but it is still fascinating reading.

There are several reasons preventing the Medvedev clan from moving against Putin (and its anti-Putin minority from speaking out against Putin openly). First, it’s simply dangerous – for the future, for business, even life and limb. Second, many members of Medvedev’s coalition feel themselves quite comfortable with Putin – some of them are even closer to Putin, than they are to Medvedev (e.g. Kudrin): it is Sechin who makes their lives hard, not Putin. Third, they aren’t sure that they would be able to keep the Chekists and other assorted siloviks in check without Putin (as of now the Army is quiet and the generals don’t stick their noses into politics, but this will not necessarily be the case forever). Fourth, they are all either unknown to ordinary Russians (from Chuychenko to Shuvalov), or unpopular (Chubais, to a lesser extent Kudrin), and they fear that without Putin, not only would they be unable to control the Chekists, but also the Russian people.

Fifth, and finally, some of them (e.g., Chubais, Kudrin, Shuvalov)understand, that they have no long-term interests binding them toMedvedev, and rightly fear that if there were neither Sechin nor Putin,nothing would stop Medvedev from scapegoating them should the needarise. Nonetheless, in Medvedev’s circle – and especially in that”circle’s circles” – there does exist a dissatisfaction with Putin and ahidden desire to deprive him of power. This dissatisfaction is more orless evidenced in the writings of Medvedev’s experts in INSOR, thespeeches of official human rights activists from the PresidentialCouncil on Developing Civil Society, and in the publications of paperand electronic media under the control of Voloshin and Usmanov.

That said, however, it isn’t clear what Medvedev himself wants: todefeat Sechin and ascend to second place in a duumvirate, or to one daybecome the first and only Tsar himself. It’s possible that Medvedevhimself doesn’t quite know yet; in any case, he is still far fromsuccessful in his struggle for second place in the real Kremlinhierarchy.