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Experts talk about confrontation of elites in the Russian society

August 23, 2012, 12:03 UTC+3
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The Nezavisimaya Gazeta carries the article titled "Political Class Losing Orientation" which addressed the confrontation between the elites in the Russian society

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a resolution which commits state corporation employees to declare their incomes, the newspaper said. The resolution came out on Tuesday evening, several hours after President Vladimir Putin announced he would take part in appointing the executives of these bodies. Medvedev signed the document when he was already on holiday. Incidentally, he went on holiday without naming the official to substitute for him as prime minister. Experts believe the premier's actions are a demonstration of independence. They also claim that the confrontation between the elites behind Russia's top officials has not died down, but is escalating, threatening with Cabinet resignation in the autumn.

The latest resolution by the prime minister came out immediately after President Putin publicly confirmed his rights to participation in forming the leadership of the state corporations. Experts believe it is no coincidence, viewing it in the context of the latest events related to presidential decisions that partly affect Medvedev's powers.

Nikolai Petrov, research council member at Carnegie Center Moscow regards Putin's statement about the directors of the state companies as a sort of "an answer to Medvedev's demarche regarding Igor Sechin" whose appointment to the post of head of Rosneftegaz was actually retroactive, without informing the government, as such appointments are its prerogatives. Putin responded to Medvedev's displeasure by a demonstrative statement about direct control over the state corporations.

The political elites and experts are actively discussing these circumstances, Nikolai Petrov emphasized, "but people are still in the dark, as they regard Medvedev the junior member of the tandem."

The experts explain the on-going "tug-of-war" in the upper echelon of power by a possible weakening of the government's position in the autumn: "suppose Putin will have to reshuffle Medvedev's government. In this event, the move should be more or less prepared, and what is happening today looks precisely like preparation."

The expert reminds about other high-profile cases of disagreement in the statements by the prime minister and the president.

"Today, each of the former co-rulers, the tandem members, is trying to assert himself, head of the Center for Political Technologies Igor Bunin said, "Medvedev announces declaration of incomes of the families of state corporation employees. Putin is making a loud reminder that he is taking part in the appointment of the leadership of state companies. In actual fact, he has had the informal rights to influence the appointments: the president is always consulted with. But now he has made this right official.

"Each of the tandem members is acting in accordance with his own vision of the situation, hence Medvedev's unwillingness to leave a successor in the Cabinet for the time of the holiday," Bunin underlined.

Head of the Institute of Applied Politics Olga Kryshtanovskysa, unlike other experts, does not see any signs of acute confrontation in the statements and decisions by the president and the prime minister: "they act in a rather coordinated way. Simpy Putin only talks about appointments: it was his prerogative before, so he has kept it; it's an important thing for him. And Medvedev speaks about details."

At the same time, the confrontation between the elites is not gone, Kryshtanovskya underlined: "this process began under Medvedev and is related to government reconfiguration and some of Medvedev's moves. The process is underway, and it is dangerous, because it is capable of splitting the elite if no antidote is found."



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