Saturday, July 31, 2010

Window on Eurasia: United Russia Revives Another CPSU Tradition – Watching Officials in the Regions for Moscow

Paul Goble

Staunton, July 31 – A newly created United Russia analytic center ostensibly intended to work with “the newly dissatisfied” in the Russian population will in fact collect information that governors and mayors are concealing from Moscow so that the latter will be able to take steps before popular anger is directed at the powers that be in the center.
In an interview to the news agency, Ruslan Gattarov, who represents Chelyabinsk in the Federation Council and who will head this new body, said that he “will collect information which the governors and mayors are hiding” in order to help Moscow respond in a timely fashion (
At least in principle, this new United Russia body represents the revival of yet another tradition of Soviet times – the use of ruling party cadres to keep watch on lower-level officials for Moscow and the awareness of such officials that party members are watching everything they do and say.
Gattarov, 33, arrived at the agency’s headquarters directly from the airport wearing a Che Guevara tee-shirt and carrying a CoscoSport backpack, described the ways in which his new group will be engaged in “the monitoring of the social-political situation in the regions” in order to forestall events like those which have rocked Kaliningrad.
“Speaking crudely,” Gattarov told’s Mikhail Vyugin, “the regional and municipal powers that be frequently do everything to keep quiet about problems in order that nothing about them will leak out. And then what happens? People are dissatisfied that the problem is not being resolved.”
“And who do they blame for this?” he asked rhetorically, people “immediately transfer [the blame] to our leader Putin and our president Medvedev. That is, as a result of any problem which regional and municipal powers that be cannot control, the image of the party as a whole suffers.”
Gattarov dismissed suggestions that his new center would be as ineffective as Putin’s offices has sometimes proved to be. “One should not compare” the two, he said. Putin’s offices are responsible for “resolving the concrete questions of citizens, and its effectiveness is rated by the number of positively resolved requests, and this percent in fact is quite high.
“The task of the analytic center,” on the other hand, “is not only to find a problem but also the paths toward its solution,” Gattarov continued, “And we will examine issues which have a resonance with the population in order not to see repeated what happened in Kaliningrad” where the situation threatened to get out of hand.
The center itself, he continued “will be small: there will not be a single politician, only young guys. Moreover, we will not collect out information from functionaries. There are many people who are not indifferent to what is going on, and they will give us information. These are people from the web.” They use blogs and Twitter.
“I will try to answer all of them [because] this is living contact, the receipt of real information from a wild number of people, with whom offline it would be physically impossible to become acquainted.” Gattarov added that he will “very attentively” follow the opposition parties in parliament. “There is also the extra-systemic opposition – they are enemies.”

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