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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

It's Not Easy Sorting Out The Family

The world is full of paradoxes!" That's what the famous Soviet Lithuanian writer Uzas Baltushis thought when he was invited to sample some prostitutes by a member of the somewhat dissident Lithuanian Catholic hierarchy during a visit to Moscow to participate in some festival of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic.

I always hear the slow, high-pitched voice of this wise man whenever I think about the twisted tangle that fate has made of Boris' children — or the heirs of the People's President (as former Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov once proposed naming Boris Yeltsin).

And there has been much food for such thought in recent days. The State Duma drew in the limits of the immunity enjoyed by our former presidents, just as the first of them was preparing to celebrate his 70th birthday. RTR state television showed a documentary called "Boris Yeltsin: Another Life." In this film, alongside the main stars, Yeltsin and his daughter Tatyana Dyachenko, an important supporting role was played by Press Minister Mikhail Lesin.

And finally, there was another round of rumors (of which there have been many since the election last March) about an impending "personnel revolution" in the Kremlin (see the front-page story in Nezavisimaya Gazeta on Jan. 31). Of course, the expectation is that the Family is on its way out.

However, I'd like to begin with an article that at first glance doesn't seem to have anything to do with "Family" affairs. Novaya Gazeta (Jan. 29-Feb. 4) published a large article by Boris Kagarlitsky (who also writes a column for The Moscow Times) about Russia's foreign policy titled "Tour de Rus."

The perceptive Kagarlitsky strives diligently to understand the logic of President Vladimir Putin's many trips abroad. The geography of these visits, it would seem, does not fit neatly into any strict system of state priorities and many of the agreements that have been signed during these trips could just as easily have been sealed by the foreign minister. It ends up looking more like "business tourism" than foreign policy.

But maybe there is a method to the madness? Maybe those who are responsible for the president's working schedule planned things in order to keep Putin out of Moscow, to keep him from looking too closely into domestic affairs.

According to Obshchaya Gazeta (Feb. 1-7), Putin is playing his own game on the Family front. An article called "The Presumption of Derangement" claims that the president has many reasons to be dissatisfied with the leadership of the law enforcement organs who, after all, were not appointed by Putin. But he is patiently waiting for them to finish the dirty work against those who were the first to abandon the Family — for example, NTV. Then he will suddenly "realize" that they have betrayed him in the eyes of public opinion and start meting out punishment.

I wouldn't be surprised if the prosecutor general shares this view, which would explain why he has been dragging out the Media-MOST affair for so long and piling intrigue upon intrigue for months.

But perhaps it would make sense for Putin to get suspicious now, not waiting until NTV is killed off once and for all. He could offer a pact to our most independent television company. We could enter a new era of the Putin and Gusinsky Family.

Then the president wouldn't have to spend so much time abroad. And neither would Gusinsky.

Alexei Pankin is editor of Sreda, a magazine for media professionals. He contributed this column to Vedomosti.