Revolutions to grip Russia and former Soviet republics in 2005

Yukos's CEO will be jailed for five years, Shamil Basayev will not be caught

Russian Prime minister might step down, the Russian government will continue persecuting oligarchs, and Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev will still remain elusive.

The new year will not bring any political upheavals for Russia like presidential or parliamentary elections. However, the forthcoming year is not going to be boring. The new 2005 year will be the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese Lunar calendar. Politics is the best environment for the Rooster, where it can exercise its abilities to the maximum.

The political situation in Russian regions in 2005 will be rather hot due to the abolishment of gubernatorial elections. Candidacies will compete for the offices; they will obviously do their best to discredit their rivals in the eyes of the Russian administration. The Kremlin, however, will not buy into the black PR. Spin doctors believe that the Kremlin will not change its political outlook at this point: new Russian governors will have the experience of working in special services.

The majority of scientists of politics think that anti-governmental sentiments will be growing in Russia in 2005, although they will not result in massive dismissals. Finance Minister Aleksei Kurdin and Minister for Economic Development German Gref will most likely keep their positions. Analysts are not sure about Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, though. Some believe that there are no reasons to dismiss the premier, whereas others predict that Fradkov will step down in the beginning of March. It is rumored that Mikhail Fradkov does not want to deal with the dirty work promoting unpopular reforms and participating in the redistribution of property.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky's future remains rather vague in the new year. Kremlin bureaucrats are afraid of Khodorkovsky's revenge if the authorities release him. It is not ruled out, though that Yukos's CEO has learned the lesson and will not arrange any new political intrigues. The decision on Khodorkovsky's fate will most likely be made in February: he will either be jailed for five years or he might become eligible for parole.

”I do not think that someone lese of the Russian oligarchs will have to go through what Mikhail Khodorkovsky has been to. The Kremlin believes that the oligarch had a project to seize power in Russia. That is why he was imprisoned. Other oligarchs do not plan anything like that – they are more concerned about real estate deals abroad. They think it is better for them to spend a million dollars on prostitutes than investing a million in the Russian economy,” analyst Sergei Markov believes.

Olga Krishtanovskaya from the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences thinks that oligarchs will not have peace in 2005: “It all depends on the privatization report from the head of the Russian Auditing Chamber, Sergei Stepashin. The report is being kept secret now, but it might produce a sensation in the spring of 2005.” One may presume that privatization results will be revised. It may also be an explanation to oligarchs' real estate activities in foreign countries.

The Western society is angry with Russia now because of elections in the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia, and the presidential election in Ukraine. Western leaders believe that Russia is pushing democracy aside, which stirred up “cold war rumors” both in Russia and in foreign states. Analysts, however, believe that the cold war will be brought to the pseudo-patriotic rhetoric: major Russian politicians have accounts in US banks, property abroad, and they will not put all that at risk.

Specialists believe that Belarus will follow Ukraine's example and arrange a revolution of its own in 2005. “It will be a bloody revolution that the West will support. Revolutions are not possible to occur either in Asian republics of the former USSR or in Russia,” Olga Krishtanovskaya believes. Other experts disagree: they say that revolutions might take place in Moldavia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and even in Russia.

Russia's quest of Chechen warlords will not be a success in 2005. Shamil Basayev's head still remains on his shoulders, even after the Russian Federal Security Bureau announced the $10 million reward for it. Specialists say that the perspectives are quite sad in this respect because of corruption.

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Author`s name Olga Savka