Oligarchs and Federal Security Service run Russia: senior analyst
PR dla Zagranicy
Oligarchs and the Federal Security Service (FSB) run Russia, and the identity of Putin’s eventual successor is not a key issue, George Friedman, the founder of the Geopolitical Futures think-tank, has said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (L) and his spouse Svetlana (C) attend the Orthodox Easter holiday service in Moscow. Photo: EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV
“The personality is not important. What runs Russia now is the oligarchs and the FSB. Putin being a KGB man,” Friedman told the PAP news agency.
“If Russia survives the growing threat to its economy, then I suspect [Putin’s] successor will be drawn from the same stratum. His name is much less important than that he continues the basic programmes of Putin.”
Friedman, who founded the Startfor think-tank, said that the falling price of crude oil on international markets has had a strong impact on the Russian economy.
“Russia needs the price of oil to be about USD 70-80 a barrel. It’s now at USD 50. At USD 50 a barrel, [Russia] is not able to fund its complete national budget and that money goes out to the regions and that’s how they fund their activity,” he said.
“So, we know that there is a rainy day fund – there are two actually. One is close to being exhausted, and we know they are trying to drag it as long as they can. But the fact is that Russia depends heavily on the exports of energy. We know that the price is below what they need to sustain themselves – what they said they need. So we know that over time, if it doesn’t change it will have a massive impact of course.
“The problem we have here is we have seen demonstrations of this … in 2012. But under current circumstances, with the weakness of the Russian economy, we have seen unrest in parts of Russia,” Friedman told PAP.
“We have seen banks failing in certain areas. We have seen the result of declining oil prices, and because of that, this takes out a new significance. So we don’t know if this will sustain itself or not. We don’t know who was behind it, but we shouldn’t assume that very change is democratic. This is a mistake that we always make.
"Just because you have a large crowd in the street, doesn’t mean that they’re democratic, as we learned in the Arab Spring. So we don’t know what forces are behind this, and what they want and we don’t know what the dynamic is.
"But it is extremely unsettling to see Russia in a position where it is having severe economic problems that is leading to social problems.” (rg/pk)