It’s fairly obvious that the folks at The Power Vertical don’t much care for Putin, or for Medvedev. And that’s certainly their privilege. It’s evident that they’d like Russia to be run by Boris Nemtsov: that, too, is their privilege. But the blog’s forté seems to be extracting whatever negativity they can from every Russian situation or scenario, so that every decision Putin or Medvedev makes is the wrong one, and every transaction is lose/lose. Conversely, everything Boris Nemtsov says is a pearl of wisdom that drops from his lips innocent of artifice, and everything he writes is a damning indictment of Putinism that should have every Russian sitting on the curb, weeping with rage at what has been done to his country.
No exception is the latest bulletin, entitled, “The Kremlin Performs a Luzhkovectomy”. Only a few weeks ago, while a ring of fire encircled Moscow and the choking stink of burned peat was inescapable, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov escaped the inescapable. Without apparent thought for the millions who had to remain behind and endure, he went on vacation. When that didn’t sit well with journalists and, likely, a substantial voter demographic (even though his position is appointed and not elected), the narrative changed to his receiving treatment for a sports injury. After his return to Moscow, it developed that this complicated man has a story for everything – at least part of his time away was occupied in evacuation of his bees and their hives to the Tula region. In the shitstorm of horrible optics this created, he apparently decided some message-sending was in order, and ordered an amendment to the municipal codes that decreed employees of the presidential administration and the Duma in Moscow could no longer enjoy free parking.
After elevating negligence to an art form and then spitting in the Kremlin’s eye, it should have been apparent to all that Luzhkov had to go, and Ms. Ioffe at The Moscow Diaries must feel substantially vindicated for her pursuit of his dismissal. He’s lucky not to have been chained to the steps of St Basil’s and caned until his ass looked like currant jelly.
However, The Power Vertical has a whole different take on it, rife with intrigue and orchestral maneuvers in the dark. The reader is left to wonder if Luzhkov might not be a hapless victim of a capricious despot who is giving him his pink slip just to demonstrate that nobody is beyond the reach of Mordor’s claws. We’re reminded how the rulers use state television to shape public opinion, and a gratuitous insult to the Russian people is included in the suggestion that the populace simply parrots back what they’re told the leaders want to hear. I suppose that’s the only explanation for the continuing rejection of the West’s inveigling to get Nemtsov on the throne – Russians must be too zombiefied by state television to know great leadership when they see it. A booklet Nemtsov wrote which detailed Luzhkov’s depredations is cited as if it were holy writ, cavalierly skipping over the inconvenient fact that Luzhkov successfully sued him for the allegations in his brochure and that he was ordered by the court to retract a portion of them.
Or maybe, we hear, Medvedev is going to take Luzhkov’s scalp to bolster the impression that his drive against corruption is working. Never mind that any effort against corruption in Russia should be encouraged rather than mocked – Luzhkov’s sacking is not symbolic beyond the fact that Moscow would settle for nothing less. And never mind the implication that Luzhkov will be posted to some comfortable billet and allowed to keep all his money – wasn’t it just a couple of posts ago that we detailed how the fired CEO of General Motors was still being paid $59,000.00 per month until the end of 2010?
Back a couple of months ago, when Yulya Latynina and Russophobes were foaming about the reconstruction of an overpass on the route to the Moscow airport, it was suggested that the Moscow mayor was involved in some scheme to screw over the director of Sheremetyevo by sending traffic to Vnukovo instead, but that he was getting away with it because of his Kremlin connections. He had friends in high places. Now that those supposed friends are firing him, that of course is the wrong thing to do, and they must be covering something up. It’s obviously political, and maybe even illegal.
Or…or maybe it signals a split between Putin and Medvedev, in which Medvedev is going out on a limb by sacking a Putin crony, and maybe a spat will ensue between Putin and Medvedev! Dream on.
But the wrap-up speculation was my favourite. To be fair, the author made a point that it was unsupported by evidence, and is clear that he’s only speculating – what if the point of this exercise is to show Russia’s movers and shakers that Medvedev is just as tough as Putin?
By firing a city mayor whose performance has been so in-your-face deplorable that it could no longer be ignored, and any connections he might have could no longer stay what had to be done? After he virtually dared the government to do it? Uh huh.
Do you hear voices?