Oleg Matveychev: ''Vladimir Putin has no successors, and the next six years are completely determined''
Famous Russian political strategist and political consultant tells about the election 2018, attacks on the opposition and the banking crisis in Tatarstan
Who should worry about the shakeup in the governor corps? Why have the attacks on the opposition become more frequent? What will Alexey Navalny do if he is not allowed to run for president? Why Moscow did not help Tatarstan to get out of the banking crisis? Russian political strategist and political advisor Oleg Matveychev answered to these and other question to Realnoe Vremya.
Mr. Matveychev, how do you assess the current political situation and protest sentiments in Russia? Depending on what is happening today, in what state our country may come to the election 2018?
In my opinion, the protests are not as great as the opposition would like, they are trying to indulge in wishful thinking, they try to show that there is allegedly a giant protest. In fact, we see that hundreds, thousands more people came out for the celebration of 1 May than for any action of the opposition. We can also remember that for the funeral of Boris Nemtsov there came out 30,000 people, we can remember that on the Bolotnaya square and on Sakharov street there went out more than 100,000 people. Now the figure is not even close to these numbers.
As for activity, now it may be at the level of 2010, no more. The difference with 2010 is that after this year there was a potential for growth of this activity in 2011-2012, but now there is no such potential. Everyone has seen the example of Ukraine, its lesson, the majority of people is not going to act on the Ukrainian scenario, except several opposition leaders, intellectuals and young people (in fact, all not political youth have been cheated).
''We have the election in 2018 and there will be Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – I can tell you with 99 percent certainty. Then he will be the head of the country for six years. There are no successors, the coming years are absolutely determined.'' Photo: kremlin.ru
''Chepurnoy won't be allowed to the president anymore as a punishment that he tried to manipulate president's opinion''
You probably know about the story of Chepurnoy and Klintsevich – the latter allegedly called Volodin as Putin's successor. This situation was deliberate or...
I think it was just a misunderstanding. Probably not even a misunderstanding but a clash in the Afghan environment. Chepurnoy with Klintsevich has been in conflict, as I understand it, not the first year. In this war, Chepurnoy decided to strike at Klintsevich — he complained to the president that he uses a kind of administrative resource, that he threatens, that he is covered by Volodin, and Volodin encroaches on the president's place. In fact, it was a denunciation.
Our president is an experienced man. He has been in the civil service not for the first year — literally all his life — and it's a piece of cake for him to reveal techniques. In every work collective, such attempts to go to the leader and say ''You know, he called you an earthworm...'' were passed through at a young age. Try to manipulate the president, to think that he's so stupid to knock his fist on the table and say, ''Hey, call me Volodin and Klintsevich! Who is going to take my place? Thank you, Chepurnoy that signalled me on time'' is silly.
I think Chepurnoy rather hurts himself by this story. Our president loves order, and at each meeting there are clear rules and agenda, and it is desirable that this agenda was not violated, but Chepurnoy did it and made some conflict in front of the press all over the country. I think Chepurnoy won't be allowed to the president anymore as a punishment for that he tried to manipulate his opinion.
How real is the candidacy and what alternatives do you see?
We have the election in 2018 and there will be Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin – I can tell you with 99 percent certainty. Then he will be the head of the country for six years. There are no successors, the coming years are absolutely determined, but what will happen next, what intra political, and most importantly, foreign policy setup will be — world crises that we have with Korea, Syria, Trump, Ukraine — no one knows. It is as if we would be in 1984, we would sit and talk who will be a successor of Andropov or Chernenko.
Hypothetically, under what slogan Putin will go to elections in 2018?
When the election programme is announced, then all the slogans will be known. Now it is early to speak about it — it's still quite a lot of time before it.
''There can be no attempts to run — he's a convicted man. According to the law ''On elections'', he can't run for president, and he knows it. Now he is deceiving people, convincing them that he is a candidate.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov
''The opposition does not understand one simple thing: the power is the only thing that protects them from vigilante justice''
What about Navalny and his attempts to run for president?
There can be no attempts to run — he's a convicted person. According to the law ''On elections'', he can't run for president, and he knows it. Now he is deceiving people, convincing them that he is a candidate. We have a large part of the population who does not know the law ''On elections'' — they believe that absolutely any person can run for president.
After when he won't be registered as a candidate, he will begin to disrupt the elections. He will shout throughout all Russia: ''Don't go to the election, it is illegitimate and illegal.'' He will appeal to the West, say that Putin is illegitimate president, he will disrupt turnout. He has received the money from the West for this purpose – to fail and delegitimise the election. As far as he can, he will harm further.
The recent attack of Navalny, for example, on Natalia Fedorova from Yabloko party are seen by many not as a separate attack of crazy, but as a specific order from the top. What do you think about these cases?
Many times, many years ago, I warned, and public figures warned… The thing is that our liberal opposition does not understand one simple thing: the power is the only thing that protects them from vigilante justice. If the government stands aside, then tomorrow, at all lights there will hang ''chubaises'' and their ilk. When the liberal opposition spits into power, it shakes the power, it hurts itself. When they start to show too much activity and encroach on the power's place, there will be various well-wishers of people who will act like extremists. Response to any extremism is always extremism.
I want to remind who started these extremist actions. Take the event that took place on March 26 — it was legal? No. People said that they would still go out and that they do not care about the law. By the experience of 2011-2012 I can say that for every Bolotnaya square protest there will be a Poklonnaya square protest, and the latter will be two-three times bigger. Their extremist actions and statements that they do not recognise the government will always have the symmetrical response from the point of view of the other part of people, what is more, from the majority of them — they will not watch and wait. People see that opposition creates chaos, and in response they create their own chaos. Naturally, the authorities will intervene, but it is the lesson for everyone, and for the liberal opposition in particular, it is necessary to learn.
''I want to remind who started these extremist actions. Take the event that took place on March 26 — it was legal? No. People said that they would still go out and that they do not care about the law. By the experience of 2011-2012 I can say that for every Bolotnaya square protest there will be a Poklonnaya square protest, and the latter will be two-three times bigger.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov
''If the authorities something needed to be done, then the issue would be resolved within five minutes with sponsors of Navalny as well as with himself''
That is, in your opinion, an involvement of the authorities is out of question?
Funny to say that the government ordered some [attacks]. If the authorities something needed to be done, then the issue would be resolved within five minutes with sponsors of Navalny as well as with himself. In the end, he has a lot of criminal cases – he can be put in jail and so on. The fury of people caused by his actions is big and it boils. The more he stirs up the rage of their supporters, which they, by the way, throw in the Internet and blogs, the more people who hold the opposite position become more angry.
Navalny should go in a civilized fashion, stop violating the law, cease to organize unsanctioned rallies, and only then claim that it offends someone. When he breaks the law and brings thousands of people, especially young, at meetings — this is normal and good, but when he was poured with green paint – it is bad, it is a disgrace, and we have lawlessness. He himself said that do not care about the law. What a double standard?
The system is shaking a little, don't you have such feeling?
I can give you examples, since 2001, when it was said that Putin would remain in power for less than two years, when in 2003, Kasparov and Khodorkovsky were shouting that the end was near: of Russia and so on. All this is nonsense. Everything is fine, everything is stable, the situation everywhere is fully controlled.
''For the economy of a country that is under sanctions, which is experiencing a lot of international pressure it is too expensive to contain a large number of bankers. Consequently, the Central Bank is engaged in rehabilitation, and those banks that do not meet its requirements, their licenses revoked.'' Photo: Maksim Platonov
''One cannot say that the banking crisis has focused precisely in Tatarstan, but…''
Reshuffles in the governor corps have become more frequent — what can be a reason and whether there are risks for our leader?
Every year some governors resign, they are replaced by others — there is no problem. Every year there is a renewal of the governor corps. You can take the statistics and see roughly how many governors are replaced a year, and this year we have not exceeded any standards. The only thing that has changed is the set of criteria that will have to meet candidates for governor. Previously, there was no set of objective criteria, but now they use methods which are commonly used in various large corporations where a person is tested for all sorts of knowledge, skills, IQ test, his ability to handle stress and so on.
Is Rustam Minnikhanov listed in your personal list of ''sustainable'' governors?
Yes, he is. Tatarstan is one of the most successful and developed regions of Russia. There is a very close cooperation with the federal authorities, there is a large Moscow office that works effectively with virtually all our committees and departments of federal agencies. They work accurately, consistently, in a disciplined manner, everyone likes. In the ratings of governors, regardless of what politicians, Tatarstan is always at the forefront.
What do you think about the banking crisis in Tatarstan? Why did Moscow not come to help such an advanced region?
We cannot say that the banking crisis has focused precisely in Tatarstan, but maybe it is has affected this region at more extent. There is the policy of the Central Bank, which is to clear the banking and financial system of the country from unnecessary, unscrupulous banks. Our economy does not need such a huge number of banks. If we look at the advanced countries with larger economies, we will find that there are a few major banks.
Now in Russia there is a large number of banks and often impressive part of them are conducting illegal operations, and often their credit policy does not meet professional criteria.
The banking sector is conventionally parasitic — it is not productive, and the surplus value is created in other sectors of the economy. For the economy of a country that is under sanctions, which is experiencing a lot of international pressure, it is too expensive to have a large number of bankers. Consequently, the Central Bank is engaged in rehabilitation, and those banks that do not meet its requirements, their licenses revoked.
And since Tatarstan has a large enough regional economy and, apparently, there was a large number of banks, some of which were engaged in some abuse, this region suffered more than others. But it happens — fortunately or unfortunately, we live in a market economy.