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It’s principally important today who will guide the struggle against corruption

Oleg Kulikov 13.06.2006

Corruption Scandals and Struggle for Power

Continuation of the corruption scandals became one of the main themes for the discussions of the last week. Their beginning was connected with the president’s message theses in which the head of the state called for the struggle against corruption and exposure of criminal cooperation of the officials and oligarchy. Right after the announcements of the message power structures initiated a number of sensational cases, they were supported by the management of the Council of Federation which started "cleaning off" the upper chamber. However it has been quickly found out that at a present regime struggle against corruption turns out into political campaign which aim is get even with those who are disagreeable.

It became now a new stage of "sorting out" between the Kremlin clans, each of them under certain circumstances could have problems with the law. The most important event of the end of the week was resignation of the General Public Prosecutor V.Ustinov who personally participated in criminal prosecution of some high-ranking officials as well as in the repartition of property in Russiain the interests of one of the influential groups.

As the first vice-president of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation I.Melnikov has stated in his comment, today is essentially important who will guide the struggle against corruption. Now it is clea V.Ustinov and his group are discharged of this process, somebody else will come to their place that can lead to the next repartition of spheres of influence and this will mean a new coil of struggle for the status of Putin’s "successor".

Even within a week before V.Ustinov's resignation the Office of Public Prosecutor was continuing its attacks to disagreeable groupings. One of the targets was the Nenets governor A.Barinov accused of swindle in especially large size and arrested by law enforcement bodies. The chapter of Khakassia - A.Lebed closely connected with group of O.Deripasky also has got under severe pressure. New "victim" became the mayor of Volgograd- E.Ishchenko who has been arrested on charge of abusing of service position, excess of official powers and illegal business matters.  E.Ishchenko is not the last figure in the Russian oligarchy. He was one of the founders of MDM-bank on the basis of which in Eltsin times one of the leading FIG was built. Communists have been insisting for a long time on making investigation of E.Ishchenko’s activities and in this case their requirements have been executed by power structures. The Communist Party of the Russian Federationgathered in Volgogradprotest mass-meeting in which hundreds of people took part.

However in general the struggle against corruption has been put absolutely incorrectly. Investigations are led under the order of officials and with a view of property repartition. On the one hand there is an investigation of crimes and it can be only welcomed. But on the other hand today's investigations are only a top of an iceberg of the Russian corruption and a choice of "victims" by authorities bears subjective character. Besides one couldn’t be sure that investigations will be carried out to the end as they threaten the interests of quite influential groups. It’s probable tha V.Ustinov suffered because he worked too actively in the interests of one of such group and thus against another (or others) which is going to get revenge now.On this background many have paid attention to V.Putin's risky statement in a meeting with members of the Presidential Council on physical culture and sports. Obviously having in mind peculiarities of present "struggle against corruption" the president whether for fun or seriously noticed that every time we started something it turned out to be the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs. Probably V.Putin was really angry with agression of V.Ustinov and his  supporters and agreed on his resignation so that not to admit disorder of "command".

Supression of the local selfmanagement self-government.

Investigation of E.Ishchenko’s case "successfully” entered the antidemocratic campaign directed on the restriction of the rights of local self-government. After arrest of the mayor of one of the largest cities of Russiathe whole "chorus" of the governors called to the cancellation electivity of mayors and to create a vertical from top to bottom. The Kremlin doesn’t object against it strongly being afraid only of the international reaction and having decided to make corrections in the legislation of local self-government in the next proof-reading in autumn. Decisions which will allow state power institutions to fulfil municipal obligations are being prepared.

“Edinaya Rossia” has original interest to local self-management being a founder of the All-Russian Council of local self-government. "Party in power" aspires to unite municipal officials and deputies in a certain similarity of trade union to grasp the initiative in a coarse of formation of municipal elite. Taking into account the fact that "edinirossy" in the State Duma following command from the Kremlin do everything for the restriction of local self-government in the country, it is easy to assume that questions of real development of the civil initiative on places as well as transfer of power and resourses to the local authorities, their work for the good to their people won’t be solved.

Such "care" of "party in power" of local self-management can be explained by the growth of protest movement at a local level which is directed against the officials of all colours. Formation of groups of civil resistance which prevented pulling down of houses and opposed roguish policy of the officials the “reform of housing and communal services" in the barbarous way had begun in Ufa. In their message 149 inhabitants of Ufademanded to exclude their voices from the results of voting for V.Putin in the years 2000 and 2004.

"Party in power" stages also other experiments. For example, a campaign for a universal cancellation of voting "against all" has started. The initiative can have ambiguous consequences. If to propose that supporters of the candidate "against all" won’t come to the elections, then the final percent of all parties will grow that is favourable for the strongest parties and also can increase a number of parliamentary parties in Russia which in a present situation do not hold out up to a seven-percentage barrier. But the part of supporters of the candidate "against all" will come to the elections and will more likely vote for opposition. Thus such initiative is not so favourable to "Edinaya Rossia" as it seems. Obviously the cancellation of voting "against all" can be of advantage to the parties of opposition and also the proKremlin pseudo-oppositionists who are on the verge of passing to the State Duma.

About "leftness" in the "party in power"

Original "struggle against corruption" was combined in politicies of authorities with not less original "becoming left". V.Putin in the budgetary message for 2007 has allowed "to unpack" Stabilization fund in which starting from 2009 "fund of the future generations" will be provided. Some of the state expenditures will be financed from this very fund. The analysis of problems connected with realization of national projects is being prepared that can cause increase in their financing. Approved by the governmental budgetary commitee forecast of social-economic development for 2007-2009 also proves that the system of rigid monetarism has been cancelled.  

At the same time it is clear that it is not a question of the rate change but the use of a favourable external economic conjuncture for decrease of social intensity in the country. The very policy of the authorities directed on accelerated capitalization of Russiadoesn’t vary from it. Growth of social charges is combined with transference of social sphere into "market railing". Communists have shown their attitude to such policy having organized on the 1st of June - Day of Protection of Children - picketing of four ministries (public health services and social development, defence, culture and mass communications, federal department of education). Movement for the protection of children which treats this problem as the most important also took part inthe picketing alongside with the Communists.

Foreign Policy: New Balance of Pros and Cons

Many interesting events in the sphere of foreign policy happened last week. New pressure upon Belarussia in connection with intentions of "Gazprom" to rise the price for gas for this country more than four times starting from the next year began. The rigid price policy for the Ukrainewas confirmed by V.Putin himself. Russiadoes not pay much attention to a proceeding campaign for giving to Russian language an official status in the Ukraine, the Russian authorities are more occupied with formation of the new Ukrainian government, which will influence business-interests of a number of influentional Russian groups. Meanwhile the struggle for the Russian language becomes fierce. Town councilof Yalta, Lugansk and Kharkovvoted last week for giving it status of a regional.From his part president V.Jushchenko has declared these decisions illegal having confirmed the antiRussian position. On this background only the State Duma took an active part having accepted the legal assignment to direct inquiry to the government with the requirement to raise the question about returning of the Crimea. In the meantime as if to confirm varying not in favour of Russiageopolitic realities to the Crimean port Feodosiya the ship of NATO arrived having caused protest actions in city. The "AntiNATO" movement is widening in Crimea and it units the Ukraineand Russiastrongly.

However "east" policy of Russiadeveloped successfully enough. V.Putin held a meeting with chapters of parliaments of the countries members of the Shanghaiorganization of cooperation. Summit SOC which will pass in Shanghaiin June will emphasize that Russiais oriented not only on the "eight", though its summit in Petersburg, certainly, will be organized to the best (last week the president of Russiahad a meeting with journalists of the countries of the "eight"). The Russian authorities have firm position: according to V.Putin’s words the theme of “returning back” of Kurils is closed and the last word was said by Japanitself. Positions of Russiain the Near East become stronger: a question of basing of the ships of the Black Sea fleet in Syriais settling. It will allow to level the balance of forces on Near and Middle East in favour of Russiaand the patriotic Arabian governments as well as to stabilize a situation around Iranwhich ally is Syria. On the Caucasus attention was atracted by the reference of authorities of South Ossetia to the Constitutional court with a question of entering Russia. Most likely that the Russian authorities will risk at last to play out “ossetian card” and solve in the same way analoguos situation with Abhasia taking into account sharp conflict with Georgia. On the conference with the journalists V.Putin has made it clear that Russiafollows the evolution of events around Montenegroand Kosovo where retrial of borders also takes place.

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