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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Siloviki Are Big Losers in The Elections

How will the outcome of the State Duma elections earlier this month affect the economic situation in Russia?

What economic consequences will follow from the absence of the political right in the new Duma? None whatsoever. The right has never been mustered more than a symbolic presence in parliament. None of the liberal laws enacted during President Vladimir Putin's first term could have passed without the support of United Russia.

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How will the arrival of the national-socialist Rodina bloc in the Duma affect economic policy? Not in the least. Sergei Glazyev's proposal to strip the oligarchs of their income from natural resources essentially echoes a plan touted by Dmitry Kozak, Putin's liberal first deputy chief of staff. Glazyev's ideas will undoubtedly be used as a whistle to make the oligarchs fall into line. But the oligarchs will not be marching to Glazyev's tune. At the end of the day, Glazyev is a less effective tool for redistributing property than the Prosecutor General's Office, but he is no less obedient.

Will property be nationalized again in Russia? No. As the Yukos affair has shown, when the prosecutors flush out an oligarch, another oligarch -- not the Russian people -- is waiting to bag the quarry. Roman Abramovich, for example.

Ownership will not revert to the state; it will become conditional. Either you cut the regime in on the profits or you can kiss your assets goodbye. They will be bestowed upon a more loyal subject. And the way for an oligarch to prove his loyalty is to pay the regime its share.

In a society where the primary asset is control of the government machine, some owners of this invaluable resource -- notably the regional leaders -- could encounter a few problems. Judging by the demonstrations in Kalmykia and the runoff election in Bashkortostan, their problems are just beginning.

This process could well require amendments to the Constitution, such as the merging of existing regions and the replacement of gubernatorial elections with a system of presidential appointments.

One thing's for certain: The bureaucrats will be making even more money than before. It is indicative that the first government body to convene after the elections was the commission that deals with protective measures in foreign trade. The commission endorsed a proposal to introduce a prohibitive duty on grain exports. It comes as no surprise that Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev lobbied for the proposal. In November, Gordeyev supported an allocation of $200 million to prop up domestic grain prices. The money, as you likely guessed, went not to the farmers, but to the major grain dealers.

Experts reckon a prohibitive duty would also benefit the grain dealers, who will receive preferential access to export channels through Ukraine and Belarus, with which Russia has no customs barriers.

The cancerous growth of the bureaucracy is not restricted to the economy; it is a social phenomenon. Traffic cops, customs officials and other mid-level functionaries constitute a middle-class electorate that has a vital interest in maintaining the current regime.

Economic and social change will bring about political change. When political power is the most important form of property, the only way to secure ownership is to stay in power. The president will undoubtedly be pressured to remain in office beyond 2008 by those who view him not as the guarantor of the Constitution but as the guarantor of ownership.

Will Putin amend the Constitution? The answer to this question could hinge on another aspect of the parliamentary elections that few have drawn attention to: The crushing defeat of candidates from the St. Petersburg clan -- from the People's Party to the Party of Life. The siloviki received less than 1 percent of the vote. Their rivals prevailed thanks to savvy campaigning.

This means that in the presidential election next spring, the bureaucratic status quo can be maintained in peaceful fashion, thanks to the cunning of Vladislav Surkov, the administration's top spin doctor. And not by calling off the election.

Yulia Latynina is a columnist for Novaya Gazeta.