Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is Russia liberalizing its economy?

The Russian government has recently announced that a new round of privatizations of state firms will occur next year, and Stratfor seems to think that this is a potentially monumental step for the Russian state. According to Stratfor (the first two parts of a five-part series have already been published),* this is the beginning of a sort of "clan war" within the Kremlin.

Stratfor frames it as roughly being between the old siloviki and the new "civilviki." On the side of the old (lead by Igor Sechin) is the FSB and the state-owned giant Rosneft, and on the "civilviki" side (led by Vladislav Surkov) is President Medvedev, liberal reformer Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, the GRU, Gazprom, and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

Anyway, Surkov and his clan are being given an opportunity to shake things up with their liberalization plan. Putin isn't taking any sides, and is waiting for it to play out before siding with the victor. Definitely not a textbook case of good vs. evil, but all in all, I think we should be rooting for Surkov and his clan.

* Stratfor is a private intelligence agency with a subscription-only site, but if you search the title of the article in Google and click the link from the search results page, you can access anything you want. This trick also works with the Wall Street Journal.

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