Kamil Galeev

Kamil Galeev



NYT seems to be so desperate to find some "saviour figure" in Russia that they don't care about their credibility anymore. Sobchak is not a "socialite" or a "critic of regime". She may be the highest born aristocrat of Russia, flesh of the flesh of the ruling St Petersburg gang

Modern Russian elite was not created by Putin. It was casted in the corridors of the St Petersburg city government during the mayorship of Anatoly Sobchak, Xenia's father

Sobchak's team included: Putin, Medvedev, Chubais, Kudrin, Miller, Sechin, Churov, Gref, Zubkov, Kozak, Zubkov, Naryshkin and many others. After Putin inherited the throne, he appointed his all St Petersburg pals at pretty much all positions of importance

Sobchak governed over St Petersburg in 1990-1996. Putin worked for him first as his deputy for foreign affairs and then as his first deputy. At this point he was a typical corrupt official, using his authority for self- and his gang enrichment

In the 1990s St Petersburg was involved into foreign barter operations: it shipped oil, metals etc. from the state reserve fund abroad in return for food. In 1992 the city MPs (Salye commission) demanded Sobchak to fire Putin who managed this program for fraud. He ignored it ofc

Many foreigners assume that the collapse of the USSR became the biggest personal catastrophe for Putin. I think it false. It was the defeat of Sobchak on the 1996 elections. Yakovlev became a new mayor, so most of Sobchak's team was forced to quite. Absolute catastrophe

Putin's aversion to the party politics, media, elections, is probably dictated by his personal experience. His worst personal catastrophe resulted from his boss losing the elections. So when Putin came to power he abolished all kinds of political competition on all levels

What is worse, Yakovlev wasn't an outsider. He was Sobchak's own deputy who challenged him on elections and won. Total betrayal. Putin learnt his lesson and would later allow only the carefully managed elections with pre-selected rivals from the controlled opposition

Sobchak loses elections and most of his core team has to leave. To the streets you go. Chances of Putin would look bleak, if not for other St Petersburg gang members who were doing career in Moscow. A St Petersburg economist Chubais was one of the great Yeltsin's courtiers

When Sobchak lost elections, Chubais invited his now unemployed deputy Kudrin to Moscow, to work in Presidential Administration. Then Kudrin invited Putin. That was a chain migration of the former Sobchak's team to Kremlin

In 1996-2000 Putin's career skyrocketed. Upon him succeeding Yeltsin, the former Sobchak's gang became the new elite. But the rise of Putin will be a topic for another discussion. Now let's some up what we've learnt today

1. Modern Russian elite was not casted by Putin. It was casted by Sobchak and then chain migrated to Kremlin upon his defeat. Almost all of Putin's key appointments are selected from the former Sobchak's team

2. Defeat of Sobchak on the 1996 elections was a personal catastrophe for many of his team, including Putin. Never again. They're deeply distrustful of the political competition and will never allow it. To be fair, they're distrustful of politics either. They're bureaucrats

3. Still, Sobchak's gang is playing into the "bad cop" vs "good cop" game. Some of them pretend to be "liberals", other - "patriots". It's all show. It was once revealed to me in a dream that a committee that decided to annex Crimea in 2014 was almost 50/50 "liberal"/"patriotic"

4. Xenia Sobchak is the highest born aristocrat in Russia. She is from non-ruling elite -> doesn't take decisions. But she belongs to the circle by the right of birth. She's playing a "liberal" and is doing great service to Putin in this capacity, as an "oppositionary"

5. Why? Because she is nearly universally hated and despised. If Chubais is the most hated public figure in Russia, Sobchak may be somewhat close to number two. That makes her the best oppositionary ever. From Kremlin's perspective of course

6. Once again: Kremlin elite is traumatised by the loss in 1996 elections. They will never allow the uncontrolled political competition anymore. Ergo, they'll push forward universally hated public figures as "opposition leaders", exactly because they're unelectable. Like Xenia

7. Putin's strategy of pushing forward unelectable "opposition" makes total sense. The thing is: you can't push forward nonames. Nonames are not liked, but they're not hated either. So they may accumulate protest votes and win accidentally

8. For this reason Kremlin will push forward those "opponents" only that can't accumulate the protest voted. Nobody will be voting for them even out of protest, because they're just too repulsive. Perfect oppositionary in Kremlin's view. Like Xenia Sobchak

9. Putin's team puts a lot of effort in controlling and managing the politics. That includes the elements of theatre as well. They're playing in good vs bad cops, liberals vs patriots, regime vs opposition. Do not fall for that, that' all show

10. Do not look for saviour figures either, because they do not exist. The problem is not in Putin (who isn't fundamentally different from his predecessors) but in the system of unlimited power. Which can't be changed by simply changing the monarch. The end

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