December 3, 2017

V. Putin's Regime Starts Springing

November 26, this year, the head of Chechnya, R. Kadyrov, in an interview with the “Russia 1” TV channel made a statement about the desire to assume authority and devote the rest of his life to protection of Islam. The statement of the Chechen leader caused a rather restrained reaction of the Russian media, which nevertheless gave some estimates of its goals, including a demonstration of the role and significance of R. Kadyrov as a leader of Russian Muslims and a guarantor of stability in the Caucasus, as well as preparation of public opinion for the possibility of his transition to a higher post in the federal office.

However, in view of the situation in and around Russia, R. Kadyrov's statement is more significant and confirms the tendency to the split in the ruling elite of the country getting deeper under the influence of Western sanctions. Moreover, desire of R. Kadyrov, as one of V. Putin's close associates, to give up power testifies to the transition of the above-mentioned tendency to a qualitatively new level, namely to the beginning of the Russian President's stooges' fleeing the political Olympus.

As noted earlier, the catalyst for these processes was the demonstration by the United States of its resolve to make a direct impact on the highest establishment in Russia. In particular, the signals of this were the disclosure of information about the Russian establishment's assets in the United States and EU countries, as well as the arrest in France of Russian senator S. Kerimov for tax fraud.

Last week, the next wave of such signals was the information leak in American media regarding specific categories of Russian citizens against whom the provisions of the Law No. 3364 “Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” could be applied. In this context are pointed out as follows:

Firstly, top businessmen cooperating with the Kremlin in its aggressive policy abroad, including sending mercenaries to Ukraine and Syria, and promoting information and cyber-warfare;

Secondly, the close circle of Putin's environment, which was identified by Russian opposition politicians B. Nemtsov and V. Milov in their numerous reports;

Thirdly, the children of the above-mentioned categories of persons who received significant wealth and high executive positions;

Fourthly, V. Putin's personal friends who, according to the “Panamanian dossier” and the Russian “Forbes”, hold in their hands his assets and capital;

Fifthly, the top businessmen who make a profit from direct business with the Kremlin, have joint ventures with V. Putin's environment, and also serve as a “screen” for the Kremlin's leaders;

Sixthly, the leaders of state-owned enterprises, who got their posts due to close relations with the President of the Russian Federation and use them in their own interests.

In addition, on November 28, 2017, the United States introduced key sanctions against Russia, which were defined by Law No. 3364, and include a ban on supplying to Russia any equipment, technologies and services that could be used for exploration and production of oil in the Arctic and in shale deposits. The deadlines for providing US loans to Russian financial institutions have been reduced from 30 to 14 days and to energy companies — from 90 to 60 days.

At the same time, there was a direct blow on R. Kadyrov himself. Thus, the law enforcement agencies of Montenegro included the Chechen leader in the criminal case of the attempted coup (with the assistance of Russia and Serbia) in the country in the autumn of 2016. As part of the investigation of this case, R. Kadyrov is accused of urging Montenegrin Muslims for cooperation with the opposition forces of the country who tried to seize power (in particular, the “Democratic Front” led by M. Knezevic, who has ties with Chechnya). Thus, R. Kadyrov, and through him — the whole ruling elite of the Russian Federation were again been shown their possible prospects, regardless of ranks and positions.

All this prompted R. Kadyrov to talk about the desire to give up power. In fact, he is no longer V. Putin's travel mate, who has already turned from the main guarantor of the interests of his environment into the main source of threats to their personal security. Besides, R. Kadyrov's position has confirmed another trend, namely, the growing contradictions between the federal center and the regions of Russia. On the one hand, the reasons for this are Moscow's inability to ensure proper financing of the regions of the country, and on the other — the practice of withdrawing funds from the RF subjects with positive dynamics in favor of depressed regions and autonomies, including the Caucasus and the annexed Crimea. In particular, President of Tatarstan R. Minnikhanov is openly advocates against such practices.

In order to block such processes and strengthen the vertical of power in Russia, V. Putin has changed the governors in about twenty regions of the country. Perhaps he would like to remove R. Kadyrov, who has an odious character and sometimes allows himself to demonstrate independence from the Kremlin. At the same time, this would create significant problems in the Caucasus, which is really controlled by R. Kadyrov.

However, it is not this but the situation in the ruling elite of Russia that matters. Of course, Putin's regime is still far from collapse. However, as the events show, the environment of the Russian President is increasingly giving up on him and is looking for other ways to realize its interests.