June 19, 2018

Analytical bulletin #7 (8) 2018

Dear Reader,

We would like to present to you the next issue of the Bulletin #7(8)2018 «RUSSIAN POLITICS».

Table of contents and short summary

Raising the Retirement Age: Top-down Preparation and Bottom-up Reaction  

Independent sociological research has shown that important shifts are taking place in the collective consciousness: the upsurge in patriotism has completely lost momentum, and expectations from the state have faded to black. In that situation, the State decided on one of the most painful reforms: raising the age of retirement. The political decision on this topic was taken in April. Now, it is becoming the main topic of domestic politics this year. The Kremlin is focusing on preventing the opposition from becoming active and minimizing personal risks for Vladimir Putin. To that end, a plan for enhanced socio-political control is being drafted.

MAIN ACTORS

Staffing Decisions for the Presidential Administration

Expectations of a consequential overhaul of the composition of the Presidential administration did not come to fruition. However, that does not mean that the President has opted for the status quo for the sake of stability: key decisions have been postponed because they have yet to be finalized. First and foremost, this concerns the foreign-policy block: Yury Ushakov and Vladislav Surkov. Both remain in limbo and could be dismissed in the next year or two. If that were to transpire, it would lead to other appointments, which could affect the domestic-policy block as well as the block of overseers of information policy.

Noteworthy is the shuffle within the FSB where Director Alexander Bortnikov disposed of his two deputies, Yevgeny Zinichev and Dmitry Shalkov. The latter became the head of the Control Directorate of the Presidential administration.

From 2007 to 2015, Shalkov’s hierarchical superior was the Director of the Military-Investigative Bodies of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (during the reforms they changed their titles slightly), Alexander Sorochkin. There are reasons to believe that Sorochkin is the one who led Shalkov into the military investigative department to be his deputy: earlier, they had worked together at the FSB. Sorochkin is a career Chekist; in 1985 graduated from the KGB School of Higher Learning. He worked as the head of the investigative isolator Lefortovo, and in 2007, literally before a new nomination within the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, he worked for three months as the deputy director of the Investigative Department of the FSB. According to unofficial information, until 2003, Sorochkin worked at the controversial FSB Directorate of Analysis and Suppression of Criminal Groups. It was disbanded in 2003″.

Yet another “FSB lifer,” Anatoly Seryshev, took the place of erstwhile forceful Yevgeny Shkolov. However, a directorate previously under his authority, anti-terrorist, has been transferred to the head of the Presidential administration, Anton Vaino. The sphere of authority of the heads of the Presidential administration will be determined within a month.

Both Seryshev and Shalkov, although career Chekists, remain outsiders to the current leadership of the FSB, and their promotion is linked to interests of other pressure groups.

 PROCESSES

Strengthening of Sergei Kirienko’s Positions

Sergei Kirienko, while he was not able to have the head of the Domestic Policy Directorate replaced, has largely come out a winner as a result of the latest shuffle. He has now has new tools to influence the information policy (Internet, IT-technology, and the communication sector), the socio-economic agenda, lawmaking of Parliament (the right to prepare amendments to bills), as well as the staffing policy (by creating a mechanism to have a pool of reserves).

 

In connection with the ongoing cadre rearrangements, the current issue of the bulletin exceeds its usual size.

The next issue of the analytical bulletin will be published on 3 July 2018.

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