Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Perception As Reality

In Yezhednevnyi Zhurnal, Yevgenia Albats considers a political campaign that hasn’t really attracted much attention yet, either in Russia or in the West – the increasingly heated search for a successor to Vladimir Putin. It’s nearly three years until the presidential election, yet even now the list of potential candidates is growing. Albats doesn’t make any firm predictions, and running down the list of favourites it’s easy to see why: the candidates are not exactly promising. However, she does pause on one unexpected name – that of the oligarchic Anatoly Chubais, most recently in the news in connection with the Moscow blackout. The “Brown threat” much talked about in recent weeks and months will come, Albats believes, not from Dmitry Rogozin, but from the Kremlin itself. And Chubais is giving the impression that he intends to counter it:
Chubais is convinced that the essence of politics is summed up in the formula that justified itself in the stock exchange games, namely that “perception is reality”. It is this "idea of reality” that he is constructing right now: a sort of liberal, but also a sort of statist, "to blame for it all", but also Russia’s most long-lived politician, loyal to the Kremlin but also apparently a supporter of the opposition. Time will show how far the reality will turn out to correspond to the idea of it that is being cultivated by Chubais. Although right now there is something else that is even more interesting: did Chubais himself begin this game, or was it by arrangement with the Kremlin? And if the latter is true, then what is the role allotted to him behind the "wall"?

But one thing is obvious: the parade of Putin’s potential successors is an intrigue that is being deliberately erected by those who realize that the status quo cannot hold until 2008. The springs are going to break at any moment. The question is, what awaits us? A cold summer? A hot autumn? A long winter?

No comments: