Political experts warn that oligarchs crave for revenge

The Kremlin must form a strong anti-oligarchic coalition by the year of 2008 to prevent a coup
Another political season in Russia is opening quite evenly; there are no storms and cataclysms. But some political experts sound the alarm and warn of coming troubles. Director of the Institute for Political Research Sergey Markov, Chairman of the National Strategy Council Valery Khomyakov and Director of the Institute for Regional Problems Maksim Dianov have organized a press-conference to warn of the menacing threat. Sergey Markov says the political experts want to help the Kremlin and community understand that main objective of the authority must be forming a strong anti-oligarchic coalition by the year of 2008 to prevent a coup.

What is the threat to Russia's politics? What coup do the political experts mean?

To tell the truth, political experts sound quite logical. The confrontation between the present-day regime and large-scale business (we call these people oligarchs) did not stop, it has just become latent. And there is enough evidence proving this. At first, President Putin declares he strongly objects to interference of foreign capital into Russia's domestic politics. Russian oligarchs in their turn dislike the statement; in response they spread in foreign media publications aimed to form negative image of the Russian president and the Russian Government in general. Then, several outstanding oligarchs strongly criticized today's political line of the government. One oligarch, Deputy Chairman of Alfa-Bank committee of directors Oleg Sysuyev even joined the well-known Committee-2008. But soon the president published a new social program which, as the three political experts believe is absolutely disagreeable for oligarchs. This means, oligarchs may show even stronger resistance and form some sort of "an oligarchic junta" to seize the power in 2008. In this connection, the initiatives to make conditions for Vladimir Putin's third presidential term voiced within several past months sound quite understandable. By this day, 18 initiatives of the kind have been already voiced. This is a well-regulated campaign aimed to convince the Russian population that the president is ready either to break or to change the Constitution. From time to time, President Putin has to deny theses statements, but the fuss about the issue is too active.  

A report developed by Alfa-Group analysts has become the most treacherous blow in the intriguing struggle. In the report, analysts praised President Putin, called him the best friend for Russia's business and the best candidate for the presidential post in the 2008 election. In other words, the flattery report is meant to let the president down. Political experts suppose that it is Alfa-Group headed by Mikhail Fridman that will be at head of the "oligarchic revolt". This group is bigger and more successful than others; and it will be certainly unhappier than others in case the authority is replaced. Recently, paper and online mass media have reported about some repressions prepared against Alfa-Bank and structures related to it.

What are the ways in which oligarchs may try to seize power? Political experts say there are two ways. The first one, let us call it the Left Turn, is being already worked through. But figures participating in it (emigrants Berezovsky, Nevzlin and Khodorkovsky to some extent, as his imprisonment may be treated as domestic emigration) are not strong enough as political experts say. The Communist Party, Rodina and left extremist organizations also belong to the group. This method resembles the "orange revolutions" that happened in some former Soviet republics within the past period. At that, political experts say this method is not really dangerous in Russia.

The second variant supposes merger of oligarchs with the force structures. There is less publicity in this process and it is not obvious. Sergey Markov says this will probably entail dictatorship, junta and other unfavorable political phenomena.

The political experts believe it is important to warn the authority of the coming threat. President Putin has already taken some preventive measures and announced a new line in the social politics of the government. To tell the truth, the threat of an oligarchic revenge is not that strong so far.

May it be so that the three political experts are exaggerating the threat? The modern history of Russia on the contrary proves that they are right. In 1996, it was a group of seven influential bankers that helped Boris Yeltsin win the second presidential term. In four years, some of these bankers even attempted to dictate their will to the next president and failed. And others of the group went in hiding; today they are probably seeking Restoration.

Nikolay Troitsky

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Author`s name Marina Lebedeva