Vladislav Surkov Explained

Vladislav Yuryevich Surkov (Russian: Владисла́в Ю́рьевич Сурко́в, born Aslambek Andarbekovich Dudaev) (born 21 September 1964)[1] is a Russian businessman and politician who has been Deputy Prime Minister since December 2011[2] . Previously he was First Deputy of the Chief of the Russian Presidential Administration from 1999 to 2011. Vladislav Surkov is widely seen as the main ideologist of the Kremlin. Allegedly he contributed greatly to the electoral victory of President Vladimir Putin in 2004.

Surkov is seen as the main architect of the current Russian political system, often described as "sovereign" or "managed" democracy.

Early years

He was born to Zinaida Antonovna Surkova, his mother (b. 1935), and his father Andarbek (Yuriy) Danil'bekovich Dudayev, both of whom were school teachers in Duba-yurt, Checheno-Ingush SSR, as Aslambek Dudayev. It is not until 1969 that his name was officially changed to Vladislav Surkov after moving with his mother to the Ryazan region shortly after his family had been abandoned by his father.

Having completed his secondary school studies, Surkov entered Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys in 1982, where he made a friend of Vladimir Solovyov, now a leading pro-government TV journalist, and Mikhail Fridman, now an oil tycoon, but failed to graduate as he had been conscripted into the military service, which around that time had become compulsory in USSR even for students. He served from 1983 – 1985 in a Soviet artillery regiment in Hungary, according to his official biography, or, as the former Russia's Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov claimed in a TV interview on 12 November 2006, in the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU)http://lenta.ru/lib/14159273/full.htm.

After his military training Surkov was accepted to Moscow Institute of Culture for a five-year program in theater direction, but spent only three years there. Surkov graduated from Moscow International University with a master's degree in economics long after that in the late 1990s.

Business career

Meanwhile, in the late 1980s he started as a businessman as the government lifted the ban against private businesses. He became a head of the advertisement department of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's businesses. During the 1990s he held key managerial positions in advertisement and PR departments of Khodorkovsky's Bank Menatep (1991– April 1996) and Rosprom (March 1996 – February 1997) and Fridman's Alfa Bank (since February 1997).

In September 2004 Surkov was elected president of the board of directors of the oil products transportation company Transnefteproduct, but was instructed by Russia's PM Mikhail Fradkov to give up the position in February 2006.

Political career

After a brief career as a director for public relations on the Russian television ORT channel (1998–1999) he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the President of the Russian Federation in 1999. In March 2004, Surkov was appointed an aide to the president, retaining the official title of Deputy Chief of Staff. He is seen as the "Grey Cardinal", a behind the scenes actor with much influence, the same as Mikhail Suslov. He is also allegedly the main supporter of Ramzan Kadyrov in Putin's entourage.

Surkov is widely considered to have inspired creation of some youth pro-government political movements, including Nashi. He met with their leaders and participants several times and gave them lectures on the political situation.http://www.ncsj.org/AuxPages/030205RFERL_Putin.shtmlhttp://www.ft.com/cms/s/15054982-8661-11db-86d5-0000779e2340.html

He advocates the political doctrine he calls sovereign democracy, a controversial attempt to counter democracy promotion conducted by USA and European stateshttp://www.cdi.org/russia/johnson/2006-212-37.cfm. While some Western media may see the attempt as controversial, this view is not generally shared by Russian media and Russian political elite.[3] Surkov himself sees this concept as a national version of the common political language that is going to be used when Russia is talking to the outside world.[3]

Being the most influential ideologist of «sovereign democracy», Surkov went public with two programme speeches, «Sovereignty is a Political Synonym of Competitiveness»[4] and «Our Russian Model of Democracy is Titled Sovereign Democracy»[5]

On 8 February 2007, the Moscow State University marked the 125th anniversary of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday with high-level conference "Lessons of the New Deal for Modern Russia and the World" attended, among others, by Surkov and Gleb Pavlovsky. There Surkov drew an explicit parallel between the U.S. president and Russian president Putin, praising the legacy of Roosevelt's New Deal, and between the US of the 1930s and present-day Russia. Pavlovsky called on Putin to follow Roosevelt in staying for the third presidential term.[6] [7] [8]

Although President Dmitry Medvedev repeatedly stressed the need for Russia to open up and modernise its political system Surkov warned in October 2009 that that could result in more instability and that more instability "could rip Russia apart".

In September, 2011, Mikhail Prokhorov quit the party Right Cause, which he had led for five months. He condemned the party as a puppet of the Kremlin and named the "'puppet master' in the president’s office" as Surkov, according to a report in The New York Times.[9] Prokhorov hoped that Surkov would be fired from service from the Kremlin, although his own political career would be at an end. Sources from within the Kremlin tell that Surkov would not disappear from the political stage.[10]

In a profile of Surkov, Reuters reported that he was one of the most powerful men in the Kremlin and considered a close ally of then-Prime Minister Putin.

On 28 December, 2011, it was announced that Medvedev had reassigned Surkov to the role of "Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Modernisation" in a move interpreted by many to be fallout from the controversial Russian parliamentary elections of 2011.[11]

After his reassignment, Surkov described his past career as follows:[12]

Private issues

Besides his political and business activities, he has been engaged in song composition and is the author of some recent texts of the Russian rock group Agata Kristi.

Surkov speaks English. Data on his private life is controversial. He was married to Yulia Vishnevskaya, the sister of Anatoly Chubais's wife. Vishnevskaya holds a renowned puppet collection. Surkov and Vishnevskaya have a son, Artyom, who either lives in London with his mother or is a student of the Moscow State University, according to different sources.

Surkov married a second time in a civil ceremony in 1998 to Natalya Dubovitskaya, a former employee of Menatep bankhttp://lenta.ru/lib/14159273/full.htmhttp://www.anticompromat.ru/surkov/surkbio.html. Mr Surkov and Natalya Dubovitskaya have two children.

In June 2005 it became public for the first time after an interview with him was published in the German Der Spiegel magazine[13] that his father was an ethnic Chechen and he spent the first five years of his life in Chechnya in Duba-yurt and Grozny. The remark, meaning that he knew his place, was apparently made to sidestep dangerous speculations he had presidential ambitions.[14] Follow-up articles published in Russian newspapers (http://www.vokruginfo.ru/news/news14072.html) said that his father's name was Andarbek Dudayev (though not closely related to Dzhokhar Dudayev). Surkov's birth name was Aslambek Dudayev, born in Shali. After his parents separated, his mother moved to Lipetsk and changed his name to the Russified version — Vladislav Surkov. His official biography still lists Surkov as name and Solntsevo village of Lipetsk province as birthplace.

Mr Surkov claimed that he earned 3.89 million rubles ($115,000) in 2008. According to public records, his wife, Ms Dubovitskaya earned 16.8 million rubles ($497,000).

Surkov reportedly has portraits of Argentine-born revolutionary Che Guevara and American rapper Tupac Shakur next to one of Putin[14] in his Kremlin office and is fond of poets such as Allen Ginsberg of the Beat Generation.[15]

Surkov wrote the preface to the 2009 pseudonymous bestselling satirical novel Almost Zero. The author was "Natan Dubovitsky", readable as a male form of his wife's name. Conflicting statements in the preface added to speculation that Surkov was the author of the novel.[14] Proceeding on that assumption, The Economist said the novel "expos[ed] the vices of the system he himself had created".[16] A successful stage adaptation of the novel (sometimes translated as Nearby Zero[17]) has been presented by Kirill Serebrennikov.[14]

Quotations

At a news conference held before G8 summit in June 2006, Surkov was quoted as saying "they tell us about democracy while thinking about our hydrocarbons",[18] referring to the criticism on the situation with human rights, freedom of speech and democracy in Russia commonly heard from the West. This was followed by an even more sharp stance towards him taken by some Western media.[19] Critics of Western coverage in Russia quote factual errors in such coverage and purposeful selection of respondents for such coverage that have no credibility at home and who do not represent majority opinion of Russian general public.[20]

At a round table with leaders of most influential political forces in Russia dedicated to discussion of the concept of «sovereign democracy» that was held in August 2006, Surkov was quoted as saying the following on the matter: "We need to have our own voice. I don't think our target is to create some unheard exotics and to tell some self-contained things that our conversational partners would be unable to understand. Of course, not. But we should have our own version of the political language. The one who does not talk he is listening, and the one who is listening he obeys. If we are an independent nation, we should be participating in conversation. If we in Russia do not create our own discourse, our own public philosophy, our national ideology that would be acceptable for the majority of our citizens (at least for the majority, and preferably for all), then they are simply not going to talk to us and reckon with us. What is the point of talking to mute?"[3]

In a 2005 interview with Der Spiegel, Surkov was quoted as saying: "That’s my personal quirk [that a superior’s request is to be interpreted as an order]. Generally speaking, our problem is that the political leadership needs to motivate the bureaucrats more."

In July 2005, Surkov gave a "secret speech" to the "Business Russia" economic forum. The following quotes are from that speech:

"...our project is a commonplace one. I would name it briefly as a “sovereign democracy.” It is not good to add something to democracy because a third way issue appears. But we are forced to do that because liberal politicians consider the sovereignty issue as not actual. "

"I have a friend who says that if you fail to do something in 2 weeks, you will never be able to do it. Those bumpkins who sit there, they do not understand that there is no democracy in this country and bureaucracy is in-eradicable. That’s the problem of lack of patience and failure to take long-term efforts.... I think one has to be more persevering, more patient. And if something goes wrong one should not speak of complete failure, that the country is ruled by mediocrities who don’t understand a thing. This is not exactly so, or maybe, absolutely not so."

They [Russia and Europe] are not enemies. They are simply competitors. So, it is more insulting that we are not enemies. An enemy situation is when one can be killed in a war as a hero if there is conflict. There is something heroic and beautiful in it. And to lose in a competitive struggle means to be a loser. And this is doubly insulting, I think.

At a meeting of United Russia's 2020 Forum in February 2009, Surkov said: "The system is working, it will cope with the crisis and get through it. If we had entered this zone of turbulence in a more-loosened condition, I assure you, the damage the state and society would have suffered would have been much greater...The crisis is still in its early stages in our country, but we are already prepared to say that we are prepared to revise our institutions and — I have read this myself! – rethink our values."

Surkov warned in an article published in October 2009 that Russia risked collapsing into chaos if officials tried to tinker with the political system by flirting with liberal reforms.[21]

In answer to calls from opponents for democratic reforms to liberalize the political system built under former President Vladimir Putin, Surkov warned that the resulting instability could rip Russia apart."Even now when power is rather consolidated and ordered, many projects are very slow and difficult," Surkov was quoted as saying by the Itogi weekly magazine."If we add any sort of political instability to that then our development would simply be paralyzed. There would be a lot of demagoguery, a lot of empty talk, a lot of lobbying and ripping Russia to pieces, but no development."[21]

Honours and awards

External links

Notes and References

  1. News: Беспартийный идеолог Владислав Сурков. 16 May 2007. Gazeta.ru. 1 April 2009.
  2. http://eng.kremlin.ru/news/3283 Vladislav Surkov has been appointed Deputy Prime Minister
  3. http://www.izvestia.ru/politic/article3096139/?print On Wednesday Political Elite Agreed to Speak Common Language
  4. http://www.edinros.ru/news.html?id=111148 Sovereignty is a Political Synonym of Competitiveness
  5. http://www.edinros.ru/news.html?id=114108 Our Russian Model of Democracy is Titled «Sovereign Democracy»
  6. http://www.kommersant.com/p741228/Putin_Roosevelt_Third_Term/ Владимир Владимирович Рузвельт/ Putin Asked to Follow FDR’s Example
  7. http://www.mosnews.com/news/2007/02/09/putinroosvelt.shtml Kremlin Official Compares Putin to Franklin D. Roosevelt
  8. http://en.rian.ru/russia/20070208/60427066.html Roosevelt Russia's ideological ally – Putin aide
  9. Kramer, Andrew E., and Ellen Barry, "Amid Political Rancor, Russian Party Leader Quits",The New York Times, September 15, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  10. Volkskrant 16-9-2011
  11. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/27/vladimir-putin-ejects-vladislav-surkov "Putin ejects Kremlin 'puppet master' after protests"
  12. http://rbth.ru/articles/2011/12/28/the_gray_cardinal_leaves_the_kremlin_14123.html The gray cardinal leaves the Kremlin
  13. Uwe Von Klußmann, Walter Mayr, 'Der Westen muss uns nicht lieben,', in Der Spiegel, 20 June 2005; 'Владислав Сурков: "Запад не обязан нас любить",' in Inopressa Newsagency, 20 June, 2005.
  14. Pomerantsev, Peter, 'Putin's Rasputin,' London Review of Books, Vol. 33 No. 20, 20 October 2011, pages 3-6.
  15. Faulconbridge, Guy "Kremlin "puppet master" faces errant oligarch", Reuters, September 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-21.
  16. http://www.economist.com/node/21541444 "The long life of Homo sovieticus"
  17. http://www.chekhovfest.ru/en/program/ Program
  18. http://en.g8russia.ru/news/20060704/1168817.html News conference of Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration
  19. http://www.inosmi.ru/stories/01/05/29/2996/231759.html Putin's Pitchman Inside Kremlin as It Tightens Its Grip
  20. http://www.izvestia.ru/politic/article3099704/?print Страница не найдена ("Page not found" per Google Translate)
  21. News: Kremlin warns against wrecking Russia with democracy. Faulconbridge, Guy. 26 October 2009. Reuters. 27 October 2009.