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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

INSIDE RUSSIA: Money Tree's Harvest Not For Campaign




Watching the outward symptoms of the disease while paying no attention to its deeper signs, most observers are interpreting the epidemic of appointments to budget and quasi-budget posts as the artillery attack prior to the overwhelming electoral offensive. They say that all the billions gathered from customs or the State Pension Fund will go toward electoral coffers needed to ensure the succession of the ruling "family."


Is it so? Let's do a little elementary political arithmetic.


What is the probability that the party of power will unite around one candidate put forward by "the family" (as happened in 1996)? Obviously, zero.


Then what is the likelihood that the candidate supported by "the family" will win in 2000? It's like a descendant of former Cuban President Batista hoping to win free elections in Cuba. The extent of the country's rejection of "the family" has become so great that proximity to President Boris Yeltsin will be the favored means of compromising a candidate. We will yet see leaflets accusing Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov of conducting secret talks with Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyachenko. "The family," of course, can forge a secret political union with the probable victor - Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, let's say, or Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed. However, Russian politicians have thoroughly mastered Stalin's words that gratitude is a dog's malady. The first thing the victor will do is to start persecuting "the family," thereby resolving two urgent tasks - to strengthen his image in the eyes of the people and to reward his own inner circle with the wealth of its predecessor.


"The family," having used state power to buy castles, companies and allies, created a medieval economy, whose emblem is the Wheel of Fortune, and whose main law states that if you have money, they are bound to take it away. This is distinct from the main law of market economics, which states that if you have capital, it will be multiplied.


"The family" not only has no chances to win in 2000, but has no hope of hanging on after the elections. It possibly does not understand this, because even rather smart people who have spent time in the upper reaches of power tend to be blind to the precarious nature of their situation. But the others in the inner circle - be it Roman Abramovich and Nikolai Aksyonenko, or second-echelon figures like Mikhail Zurabov or Mikhail Vanin - cannot fail to understand this. They also cannot fail to see that their situation strikingly differs from that of "the family." Because while it is world practice to seize the property of fallen shahs, dictators and quasi-dictators - including their property abroad - the expropriation of foreign accounts held by little-known drones who worked to replenish high-level coffers is unheard of.


Thus it makes no sense to "the family" to empty the budget to finance an electoral campaign. This, in fact, is harmful: Every scandalous appointment is another nail in the coffin of the current power-property structure. But it makes plenty of sense to use the budget to replenish the foreign bank accounts of those appointed to be the ruling "family's" saviors - that is, the Kremlin insiders who are playing skillfully on "the family's" basic fears. They are using these fears simply as a profitable investment, reasonably assuming: "After us, the default."


Yulia Latynina is a staff writer for Segodnya.