The Russia analysts over at Stratfor frequently use hyperbole, are generous with broad, sweeping statements whose logic you could drive a truck through, and are obsessed with the cloak-and-dagger power machinations of certain individuals within the Kremlin such as Igor Sechin, the mastermind of the Yukos theft, and Vladislav Surkov, the Gazprom-backed ideological innovator responsible for “sovereign democracy.” Perhaps precisely for these reasons it is so much fun to read, even if many of the rumors are difficult to prove. Today’s analysis is no different, arguing that Igor Sechin is the main culprit behind the campaign against Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin (via the arrest of his #2 man Sergei Storchak), allegedly as part of his effort to gain control over Russia’s enormous sovereign wealth fund. The article notes that Sechin’s influence in the procuracy has waned (his lieutenant Salavat Karimov couldn’t even get a job) while that of Surkov’s has risen. The most surprising assertion in the article is that Sechin is beginning to target the holdings of Oleg Deripaska, who has become close to Surkov. The theory goes that Sechin is furious that Deripaska was passed the gift-wrapped prize of the oil company Russneft, which the government had previously seized from Mikhail Gutseriyev.
Excerpt from Stratfor:
Now Sechin is striking out at Kudrin by picking off his closest advisers. In an obvious move against Kudrin, Sechin had Vice Minister of Finance Sergei Storchak and his two associates arrested Oct. 16 on charges of trying to divert $43.4 million from public funds. Kudrin attempted to mitigate damage to his team Nov. 29 by saying that “the arrest of Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak is having adverse impacts on the Finance Ministry, since only Storchak has operative information on a whole number of matters.” Kudrin went on to note that he “is filing a petition seeking Storchak’s release and hoped for an answer within the next few days. The charges will also be appealed.”