What Vladislav Surkov (above left) described as “sovereign democracy” now lacks a single “sovereign” because the power vertical Vladimir Putin so carefully constructed no longer has one but rather several decision-making centers, a situation that calls the entire edifice into question, Paul Goble’s Window on Eurasia reports.
Analyst Oleg Savitsky argues that even though Putin still has “the last word” on all questions, those who work out the decisions below him are playing an increasing role as decision making centers in their own right.
Perhaps the clearest example of the rise of new centers of decision making is the increasingly powerful Investigative Committee of Russia, headed by Putin’s university friend, Aleksandr Bastrykin.
The committee “has its own ideology, its own political goals enjoys a certain independence and seeks to consolidate its influence, including at the expense of highly placed representatives” of the regime. Savitsky gives as examples Bastrykin’s moves against Bryansk Governor Nikolay Denin, against Surkov himself, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Putin still has the ultimate power, but his power vertical is not the unified thing it was. Instead it has branched at the top, something that in some ways “looks more terrible than authoritarianism” because “under authoritarianism” it is clear “with whom it is necessary to fight.”
But in Russia today, that is now anything but.