The sudden coup-like removal of Mikhail Prokhorov from the leadership of fake opposition party Pravoe Delo is the talk of the town, helped in no small part for his strong denunciation of Vladislav Surkov as a “puppetmaster” who whispers lies in the ears of Russia’s leaders, and leads them to premature decisions. It’s pretty hard to believe that at least that part was scripted. At any rate, here goes a bit from Joera Mulders article published on Russia Watchers, which captures some of the futility of Prokhorov’s campaign in the first place.
Today’s events, Prokhorov’s resignation as party leader, therefore came at a surprise. With the benefit of hindsight we may discern three main reasons.
First, as the boss of a huge business and financial empire, Prokhorov isn’t the man to make compromises, nor within the party, which leadership he assumed, nor with the ‘managers of democratization’ in the presidential administration, who were under the impression that they ‘hired’ him for their new party project. My way or the highway resulted in the highway.
Second, Prokhorov didn’t confine himself to the traditional right wing electorate. He also spoke to the disgruntled academic and working classes, who are looking for a strong leader to create career opportunities for them. In other words, he stepped onto the turf of United Russia. In addition in order to draw the protest vote, Prokhorov applied opposition tactics, claiming pressure from regional authorities and Kremlin officials to boost his independent image. As a result, the ‘managers of democratization’ got the feeling they were loosing control over their project.
Third, these ‘managers of democratization’, may have had special reasons for feeling even more invincible than normally. The center of these ‘managers of democratization’ is the department within the presidential administration ‘for the governance of domestic politics’, supervised by the vice-head of the presidential administration and chief ideologist of Putin’s stability, Vladislav Surkov. While the president talks liberalization of politics, these guys do the dirty work of maintaining ‘stability’, most often on a need to know basis. It is my impression that much of what the media reports as telephone justice, media censorship and blacklists is exaggerated. Still, when these things do happen, they do originate here.