Staunton, March 12 — Andrey Illarionov, an economist who earlier served as an advisor to Vladimir Putin, says that future historians may describe what is happening in Moscow now as “a conspiracy of the generals” — or more precisely as a behind-the-scenes battle between a former lieutenant colonel (Putin) and three senior generals.
As the Russian commentator points out, Putin’s absence from the scene and his cancellation of meetings and a visit to Kazakhstan has forced many to ask “where he is and in what state.”
For almost two weeks, there has been a serious struggle behind the scenes over the Nemtsov murder, something for which there is ever more evidence in the public domain, Illarionov suggests. Indeed, he argues, it is clear that the battle lines have been drawn between “the party of ‘blood and dough’” and “the party of ‘big blood.’”
Sergey Ivanov, the secretary of the Presidential administration, who had been out of public view since February 27, has re-emerged and having “strengthened his union with the Russian Orthodox church or, at a minimum, guaranteed its neutrality.”
Nikolay Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council has “accepted the capitulation of Ramzan Kadyrov.” Konstantin Remchukov has spoken about the approaching retirement of Igor Sechin. And the retirement of Vladimir Kolokoltsev, despite all the denials, also appears to be settled, Illarionov says.
“In other words,” he continues, “the security and financial supports of ‘the national leader’ have been paralyzed.”
And if this analysis is correct, Illarionov says, then the following things are likely to happen next: the replacement of Dimitry Medvedev by Sergey Ivanov as prime minister, and after a decent interval, an announcement that “the national leader” — that is Vladimir Putin — “needs a well-deserved rest.”
As far as he is concerned, Illarionov continues, such changes are not necessarily an improvement, and his response to suggestions that he is on one side of the other is that he wishes “a plague on both” given what Putin has already done and what this new/old crew may do if they take power.
Moreover, there are some historical analogies which are anything but encouraging. Illarionov cites just two: the replacement of the shah’s regime which was allied with the Iranian security services by the ayatollahs without the security services but with Islamist militants, and the replacement of the corrupt regime of Chang Kai-Shek by the communist Mao.
That Russia needs a change from Putin is beyond question, Illarionov suggests, but it is unlikely that the change this particular conspiracy of generals offers is what in fact Russia needs.