The Return of Semeistvennost to the Kremlin?

Today Eurasia Daily Monitor ponders whether or not the recent resignation of the defense minister, later rejected by the president, was just a ploy to hide a new level of nepotism forming in the Russian government.

In Soviet times, close relatives were strictly forbidden to be in direct subordination to each other on all levels of Communist Party and government administration. There was a special term for such nepotism — semeistvennost. The restriction was established as the Bolsheviks took power in 1917, and it was aimed at preventing the formation of family clans within the system. It also was a political rebuke of the practices of imperial Russia, in which members of the ruling Romanov dynasty and a handful of other aristocratic families had occupied high positions in the military and civil administration of the country, forming circles of kin relationships. In practice, the sons of high Communist officials were still appointed to important positions within the Soviet Union. There was one line that was never crossed, however — direct subordination. It was acceptable if there was at least one other official in the line of command between father and son. … Putin has created an administrative system with such pervasive corruption that the country has become virtually ungovernable. Billions of petrodollars have disappeared without a trace, and Putin complains that his orders are not carried out. Zubkov, like Serdyukov before him, has been appointed to shake up the system. Together in government, they form a new strong clan in power that Putin may use to restrain other Kremlin clans (see EDM, September 19). Meanwhile Serdyukov’s bogus resignation has exposed the opposition within the Defense Ministry and in the Kremlin. Baluyevsky maybe on his way out and others may follow.