Monday, October 22, 2007

Russia: Putin's Russia

Brian Whitmore, a senior correspondent for RFE/RL takes a look at Putin's Russia - The Kremlin Corporation.

Putin isn't interested in a Soviet restoration. This time around, Russia's path to greatness lies in a modern authoritarian corporate state. Some Kremlin-watchers have even dubbed the country's Putin-era ruling elite "Korporatsiya," or "The Corporation."

"I like using the term 'Kremlin, Inc.,'" says Russia analyst Nikolas Gvosdev, a senior fellow at the Nixon Center. "I think there are a number of boardroom strategies that apply to how policy in Russia is developed."

Since coming to power nearly eight years ago, Putin has carefully crafted an image of himself as the undisputed master of Russia's political universe: a strong, stern, and solitary leader calling all the shots. His most recent moves -- unexpectedly naming the heretofore unknown Viktor Zubkov as prime minister and announcing that he will lead the pro-Kremlin Unified Russia candidate list in December's parliamentary elections -- have only served to solidify this impression.

But in reality, Russia is run by a collective leadership -- the Kremlin Corporation's board of directors, so to speak. Putin is the front man and public face for an elite group of seasoned bureaucrats, most of whom are veterans of the KGB and hail from the president's native St. Petersburg. Together, they run Russia and control the crown jewels of the country's economy.

Full article: Inside The Corporation: Russia's Power Elite published in RFE/RL

Brian Whitmore is a senior correspondent for RFE/RL. Prior to joining RFE/RL, he worked for six years as a stringer for "The Boston Globe," writing extensively from Russia, Central Europe and the Balkans. He also worked as a political correspondent for "The Moscow Times" and "The St. Petersburg Times." Mr. Whitmore's work as a freelance journalist has appeared in "Newsweek" and "The Nation."