Putin Vs. Putin?


Russian police briefly detained opposition figure Ilya Yashin (left) on Thursday, two days after he released a report alleging widespread corruption by President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reports:

Yashin, a prominent member of the People’s Freedom Party, was briefly taken into custody after speaking at a party gathering on the street near Moscow’s Babushkinskiy metro station, Russian news agency Interfax reported. A video of Yashin’s detention shows him being approached by a man in plain clothes flanked by several men in police uniforms. The man identifies himself as a police officer before the uniformed men take Yashin away by the arms and into a police car.

As the Kremlin leader culls his inner circle, purges the elite, and tries to enforce some limits on the massive graft that pervades Russian politics, he’s also fighting with himself. And that is because Putin is something of a hybrid, argues RFE/RL’s Brian Whitmore:

As veteran Russia-watcher James Sherr has noted, genealogically Putin is a product of the KGB, but sociologically he is a product of the Darwinian chaos and gangster capitalism that marked Russia’s first post-Soviet decade.   Putin’s political DNA may have been formed in Lubyanka, in Yury Andropov’s KGB, where order, hierarchy, discipline, and Soviet great-power ideology were paramount.  But his political socialization took place as vice mayor of St. Petersburg in the 1990s, where, as Karen Dawisha notes in her book Putin’s Kleptocracy, one of his key roles was acting as a liaison between the political and criminal authorities.

The presidency is the only institution in Russia today that has not been hollowed out, so it is the president who will make all major political decisions. Everyone else is just a liaison officer, argues Andrei Kolesnikov, Senior Associate and Chair at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

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