Thursday, May 16, 2013

I don't understand Surkov


I was always puzzled when it comes to Surkov. The fact that he's so shadowy doesn't help. There are some circles that are suggesting that it's part of Sergey's Ivanov's plan to oust Medvedev's allies one by one... but I never quite saw him as a Medvedev ally, either. They probably were at one point, but maybe not. I have trouble placing him in the government's map of power. Precisely what clan does he belong to? The siloviki? The softer liberal reformers? The technocrats? The oligarchs? I am stumped. Maybe he is precisely that--he belongs to no one. That's why he quit--or was forced to resign. But who is this guy anyway?

He has career roots in the GRU (military intelligence), but is he part of the siloviki? 
He was with Khodorkovskiy's Menatep, and he still retains his ties with his former boss. He married a Menatep employee. But then, he still manages to remain in high-level government, who pretty much wants to keep the oligarch in jail. His first wife was an extended part of Chubais' family. But does that make him part of the oligarch clan?  

He hangs out with Chechen president Kardyrov, and maintains a rather chummy relationship with him. He is, after all, half Chechen, but dropped his birth name in favour of a Russian name, which probably served him well. Well, there isn't really a "Chechen" clan in the upper government... unless you count Kardyrov, and if two makes a clan...

He creates political parties on behalf of the ruling clan/s: Nashi, Rodina, and A Just Russia, putting his PR skills to good use, and solidifying his ties with the Kremlin, and earning him the title of puppet master.

Now that Surkov might just as well retire from politics altogether and write political comedy, it will be harder to even find out more about him. 

Well, farewell then, Surkov. It was good to barely know you.

The Power Vertical: Surkov’s Last Stand










May 15, 2013

It’s more than fitting that the circumstances surrounding Vladislav Surkov’s sudden exit from the halls of power continue to be shrouded in mystery a week after the fact.

The master of political subterfuge, the architect of the make-believe democracy, the creator of faux parties and imitation social movements, of course, would have it no other way.

A week after Surkov’s departure as deputy prime minister and government chief of staff was announced, we still don’t even know for sure when exactly he actually tendered his resignation, which was officially announced on May 8.

The Kremlin’s preferred narrative: Surkov resigned on May 7, right after President Vladimir Putin publicly dressed down the government for its poor performance. That is what Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

But Surkov is telling another story.  He insists that he tendered his resignation on April 26 of his own accord, but the Kremlin waited nearly two weeks to announce it.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was typically wishy-washy on this point. His press secretary said Surkov discussed his resignation with the premier on both April 26 and May 7.

Does this really matter? Actually, probably not. But it is quite telling. The man who for over a decade masterminded Russia’s political narrative on the Kremlin’s behalf is not allowing his old masters to write the script of his banishment.