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Attitude toward Russia's Authorities Changing

The situation that is being formed in the Russian political establishment is unique

Members of Russia's military structures continue taking key state posts, which is likely to change the correlation of political forces in the Russian establishment. Moreover, it may change the entire image of the Russian power. Political scientists believe the number of former military men in the country's administration has reached the critical point, which might be followed with the transformation of the whole state administration system towards authoritarian and military structure to meet the needs of the new political elite.

The situation that is being formed in the Russian political establishment is unique. Vladimir Putin is the first top Russian official to alter the tradition of forming the president's team based personal interests and sympathies. Recent appointments are based on people's professional qualities and the primary reason for the appearance of the new to enter the Russian political vocabulary - the "clan," replacing the term "family," widely used during Boris Yeltsin's era.

According to the results of a recent poll, conducted by the Russian Public Opinion Center, about one third of the Russians believe, Putin stands for the interests of the special services and other governmental military structures. These are two different notions - to rely on special services and to stand for their interests. This subtle change might lead to rather serious consequences for the Russian population. Sociologist Leonid Sedov thinks the danger of the present situation lies in the "autocratic, patriotic, anti-bourgeois and anti-Western mentality, which is typical for the new Russian political elite." Leonid Sedov believes, this peculiarity is pushing the country back to the past, "in the time of the political and economic standstill." The new statesmen do not have professional skills in the economic and political field, which will inevitably make them use more habitual administrative methods, when the law becomes less important than the notorious "political expediency."

The hunting for oligarchs is one of the most significant manifestations of this process. Political scientists believe the actions against oligarchs are meant to raise the authority of the central power on the threshold of the coming elections. However, the support may turn out to be rather illusive. First and foremost, not all people welcome the thesis of "hunting for oligarchs" and the subsequent expropriation of property. According to the poll, 48 percent of Russians approve the idea of revising privatization results. On the other hand, the majority of people think, it would simply become another redistribution of property, which will be owned by new oligarchs (31 percent), officials (23 percent), or criminal groups (18 percent). Forty-four percent of respondents think the political situation in Russia will worsen with another round of property redistribution, whereas 39 percent say, it will cause an irreparable damage to the country.

The high level of corruption in law-enforcement bodies is another factor that can shake people's confidence in power. Seventy-five percent of respondents do not trust the Office of the Prosecutor General. People think, the office works on the base of the interests of the "clan." As far as scandalous legal proceedings against oligarchs and giant companies are concerned, the majority of Russians perceive those actions as a show. Twenty-eight percent think, the government and businessmen will come to to a compromise, settling everything quietly. Seventeen percent of respondents think the Office of the Prosecutor General is heavy handed.

One may explain such skeptical attitudes toward government's due to memories of the special services during the Soviet era. However, the government has not done anything to convince the population of the opposite. On the contrary, many  assassinations and other severe crimes remain unsolved against the background of awkward attempts to suppress large businesses. People are changing their attitude to the new power - the presidential election in the Karachayevo-Cherkessia republic demonstrates 

On the photo: The building of the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) in Moscow

N. Sviridov

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