[FoRK] Putin - The Sick Man of Moscow
geege4 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 13 10:43:21 PDT 2015
Alexander Litvinenko's revenge.
On Mar 13, 2015 11:06 AM, "Joseph S. Barrera III" <joe at barrera.org> wrote:
> Vladimir Putin may well be seriously ill, or worse.
> He hasn't appeared in public in a week, he just canceled a trip to
> Kazakhstan and a series of meetings in Moscow, and the hashtag #ПутинУмер
> (Putin Died) is trending like mad on Twitter. There have been reports in
> the Russian media that he's had a stroke.
> Whether Putin is sick, or "is feeling fine," as his spokesman Dmitry Peskov
> insists, the system he presides over is far from healthy. Even if Putin the
> man is in top form, the "collective Putin," Russia's informal ruling
> circle, is showing signs of deep distress.
> In fact, over the past two weeks, since the February 27 assassination of
> opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, it has appeared to be in the throes of a
> crisis. Informal rules have been violated, rivalries among figures near the
> top of the power pyramid have escalated into open conflict, and Putin has
> been conspicuous by his absence.
> And while it is impossible for outsiders to truly know what is going on in
> the opaque world of the Kremlin's inner sanctum, there seem to be two
> possible explanations for Putin's disappearance from public view.
> Either he is fine and furiously working behind the scenes to calm the clan
> warfare that has emerged in the wake of the Nemtsov assassination.
> Or Putin is truly sick and incapacitated and the recent turbulence we have
> witnessed -- from the assassination to the muddled narratives in the
> investigation to the open conflict between the Federal Security Service
> (FSB) and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov -- are symptoms of a highly
> personalized system that has lost its head.
> New Rules?
> In a political system like Russia's, where formal institutions are weak,
> court politics are paramount, and personal ties mean everything, obscure
> signals and gestures matter a lot. So do informal rules. They have to,
> because the law doesn't apply to those on the top.
> This was one of the reasons why the Nemtsov assassination was so shocking.
> Killing somebody this prominent -- and certainly doing the deed blocks from
> Red Square -- was against the rules.
> As Ivan Yakovina, a former political correspondent for Lenta.ru, wrote
> recently in the Ukrainian newspaper Novoye Vremya, "Moscow's unspoken
> rules" forbid killing those other top politicians. Even those such as
> Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, who had gone into opposition.
> The killing, therefore, was "a signal to all representatives of this
> class," Yakovina added.
> And if the Nemtsov assassination has violated one of the cardinal edicts of
> Putinism, the aftermath violated another: Clan warfare among top members of
> the elite must not be played out in public.
> When the FSB named Zaur Dadayev -- a man with close ties to Kadyrov - as
> the mastermind of the Nemtsov assassination, it was interpreted in the
> elite as a direct assault on the Chechen strongman.
> Kadyrov is powerful. Perhaps one of the most powerful men in Russia. He has
> thousands of loyal armed men at his disposal; he has a strong lobby in the
> Interior Ministry; he counts key Kremlin power brokers like Vladislav
> Surkov as his allies; and he has long enjoyed Putin's support.
> But he has also acquired powerful enemies, including Kremlin chief of staff
> Sergei Ivanov, Kremlin political overlord Vyacheslav Volodin, and FSB chief
> Aleksandr Bortnikov.
> And Kadyrov's enemies now appear to be using the Nemtsov assassination to
> take him down.
> In a recent interview, the prominent journalist and Kremlin-watcher Oleg
> Kashin noted that it was significant that Dadayev and the other suspects in
> the Nemtsov case were arrested by the FSB and made public by Bortnikov
> "Up until now, Bortnikov was not a public person who announces somebody's
> arrest," Kashin said. "This is usually done by Investigative Committee
> spokesman Vladimir Markin."
> This, Kashin added, also reeked of a "siloviki war" -- a showdown among the
> security services -- since Dadayev served as deputy commander of Battalion
> Sever, an Interior Ministry paramilitary unit formed by the Chechen leader.
> "Bortnikov struck a blow against Kadyrov," journalist and political
> commentator Orkhan Dzhemal told Ekho Moskvy.
> "There's a battle going on. The Spasskaya is fighting the Borovitskaya," he
> said, metaphorically referring to the two famous Kremlin towers.
> Battle Of The Titans
> The battle played out in media reports about the Nemtsov investigation,
> too. A report in the pro-Kremlin tabloid Moskovsky Komsomolets claimed that
> Dadayev had retracted his confession and claimed he was tortured
> There was also a story in the opposition Novaya Gazeta that quoted
> unidentified law-enforcement officials who claimed the authorities know who
> really organized the Nemtsov hit -- a mysterious Chechen security officer,
> also with close ties to Kadyrov, identified only as "Major Ruslan."
> In fact, the FSB assault on Kadyrov appeared to commence in earnest before
> the Nemtsov assassination.
> In February, a Daghestani court sentenced two Chechens to nine and 12 years
> in prison on for plotting the assassination of Saigidpasha Umakhanov, a
> rival of Kadyrov's and the mayor of the region's third-largest city.
> The FSB also took the lead role in that case. And in a report this week --
> note the timing -- Novaya Gazeta quoted FSB officials as saying the
> assassination was ordered by Adam Delimkhanov, Kadyrov's cousin and close
> If a battle between Kadyrov and the FSB is about to go full-throttle, it
> would be a war of the titans that could shake the Putin system to its core.
> And Kadyrov's behavior -- from his much-publicized trip to a shooting range
> this week to the statement he posted on Instagram where he wrote that he
> would lay down his life for Putin -- suggest that he senses the danger.
> But for the time being, at least, Putin is nowhere in sight.
> -- Brian Whitmore
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