Newsweek: War Inside the Kremlin

newsweek1207.jpg Newsweek writes about Viktor Cherkesov, Igor Sechin, and all the fighting going on in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle: Putin needs a new political niche. One possibility: leader of the United Russia Party, whose candidate list he headed in this week’s Duma races. As a substitute for an actual campaign, the Kremlin turned the election runup into a frenzy of Putin-worship. The focus on him helped keep people’s minds off the clans’ feuds—and averted any discussion of Russia’s very real problems. The oil-powered economy may be soaring, but so is inflation, and labor unrest is breaking out. A pay strike recently shut down the Ford Motor Co. plant in Vsevolozhsk, near St. Petersburg, and roughly 1,500 teachers and nurses staged a protest outside Astrakhan’s regional Parliament to demand better public-sector salaries. Resolving problems like these is likely to be a full-time job for the next president. That is, if he’s not too busy breaking up fights among his bureaucrats and their private armies.