Here is an article from my previous blog. A small note at the end about the 2018 World Cup

June 5, 2014 / Leave a comment / Edit

Speaking at the Lubyanka—the Moscow headquarters building that the FSB inherited from the KGB—on “Security Organs Day” (known as “Chekist Day”) in December 1999, Putin said that “the mission of the group of FSB officers sent undercover to work in the government is being accomplished successfully” (A. Illarionov, 2008).

When Yeltsin’s “family” members were searching for the president’s successor they had not so much to choose from: Yevgeny Primakov, Sergey Stepashin and the young head of FSB, Vladimir Putin. All candidates were from KGB/FSB. Boris Berezovsky claims that he was the one choosing the unknown Putin, based on a previous meeting in St Petersburg, when the aide of Sobchak declined to take bribes. It didn’t take him long to regret his choice.

Since entering office Putin has built up an entourage of companions, whose main assets are loyalty and a similar way of thinking. This process hasn’t been only easy, but by the end of his second term most of the foundation was laid. Sergey Ivanov was one of the favourites to fill the role as “acting” president in the period 2008-2012, when Putin had planned to formally continue his presidency. It was therefore a surprise to many that the rather modest Dmitry Medvedev was chosen by Putin as his “successor” in Kremlin. Why so? Ivanov is a tough nut, and Putin wouldn’t risk having a president who could be a challenge to his position as the absolute leader.

Today the country is run by KGB/FSB. The new Politburo, or the Gentleman Club, is – of course – headed by Putin (KGB). Number 2 and 3 are Igor Sechin (KGB, Rosneft) and Sergey Ivanov (KGB, head of the president administration). On the next level we find Nikolay Patrushev (KGB, Security Council), Viktor Ivanov (KGB, anti-drug committee) and Sergey Shoigu (army general, Minister of defense). Ideology and media control is in the hands of Vladislav Surkov (GRU). Sergey Naryshkin (KGB, speaker) takes care of the State Duma, while Valentina Matviyenko runs the Federation Council (civilian, upper chamber). Lower in the system we find Dmitry Rogozin (civilian, deputy prime minister in charge of the military-industrial complex), Dmitry Kisilyov (director Rossiya Segodnya, chief propagandist), Dmitry Kozak (deputy prime minister). Sergey Glazyev (advisor ) and Igor Shuvalov (deputy prime minister) offer advice on economical questions. The guys from the infamous “Ozero” dacha cooperative, Yakunin (KGB, head of Russian railroads), Yury Kovalchuk (Bank Rossiya), the brothers Rotenberg and Gazprom’s Alexey Miller take care of the huge cash flow of the gentlemen’s club.

But where are Medvedev and Lavrov in this hierarchy? They are simply taking orders and not being involved in the policy making. I believe both feel pretty uncomfortable in their this entirely new situation.

In this hierarchy Putin is on top, but he depends entirely on the loyalty of his carefully selected companions. All the members are granted big funds from all sectors of Russian business, which strengthen the bonds between the club members. But it’s not so fun to have 500 million USD when you can’t spend some of it on your 200-feet yacht in St Tropez. Moscow has a lot to offer, but will soon turn boring. The conflict within the club will get tense in a short time, although it will be kept in the dark for a while.

When the time comes to remove Putin, the regime will continue to exist, but in a much more mellow form. The most probable candidate to take over is Sergey Ivanov. The process will be very difficult to keep secret, since Putin is quite paranoid.

So how long then will Putin stay in power? He will not attend the opening of the Football World Cup in Moscow in 2018, and he will definitely not see the finishing of the new bridge to Crimea. But then again, I don’t think anyone will see any of those events.