In a clearly scripted conversation, the President announced that former SVR chief, Mikhail Fradkov, was now in charge at state-owned military industrial company Almaz-Antey. In addition, Fradkov will take responsibility at Russian Institute of Strategic Research.
“Early November was marked by new appointments. Changes in the upper echelons of power, which began prior to the September parliamentary elections, continue. In addition, each piece of news in this regard immediately acquires contradictory rumors. In the first place, because few people understand what causes this or that personnel decision.”
However, Preobrazhansky says, there is an explanation for the news that former SVR Chief Fradkov was put in charge of Almaz-Antey and the Russian Institute of Strategic Research [RISI in Russian].
“If you believe the rumors, Fradkov has de facto become a victim of the personal sanctions imposed by the US and the EU against a number of Russian officials.”
There was some confusion in the elite about who would be placed where, he continues. And it appeared that “even Naryshkin himself until recently was not sure that he would be sent to the SVR…”
Fradkov was then rumored to be heading to Russian Railways [RZhD], but this was allegedly nixed because of the sanctions against him, which would prevent RZhD from getting the necessary loans to keep operating. But then we heard nothing for almost two weeks. Now, however, “the Kremlin seems to have found a way out of a difficult situation.”
“And in addition to the solid but, by and large, symbolic position, the ex-Prime Minister unexpectedly received a second one – he became the director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Research [RISI], which at one time was part of the SVR, but in recent years became a “subsidiary” to the Presidential Administration, as well as working closely with the Russian Security Council.”
Preobrazhansky then reminds his readers of the scandal surrounding RISI in 2015 when a former employee, Aleksandr Sytin, accused them of being an ideological organization rather than a pragmatic and professional one [for more details, see here.].
Fradkov’s appointment to RISI gave rise to “rumors that it was an attempt to make a single formal “think tank”, built in the Kremlin administration, that was somewhat more “brainy”. For example, ridding it of “ideological” non-professionals.”
“However, there is a another version, saying that on the contrary, the president personally is satisfied with the intellectual product produced by RISI for public use as well as for internal use in the Presidential Administration. And he just wants to appoint a “political heavyweight” (the former Prime Minister), so that analyses from RISI also increase in political weight.”
A third version suggests that the changes come from “…the general “reshaping of the field of Russian experts, or rather that part of it which advises or would like to advise the Kremlin. As we know, the new curator of internal policy of the Presidential Administration, Sergei Kiriyenko, recently met with the experts: political scientists, sociologists, and political strategists.”
“But there are many “newcomers” who are ready to try to break into the Kremlin’s expert pool. Basically, this is the oldest Russian political technology, political science, and sociological centers, which have ceased to cooperate with [new Duma speaker] Volodin because of their lack of loyalty. Here in those processes and supposedly reformed RISI, which is to take a “conservative” position in a broad coalition of experts, which gathers in the Kremlin (similar to how it was in 1996 before the presidential election).”
This would be in preparation for the coming Presidential election in early 2018. But these so-called experts will only tell the authorities what they want to hear rather than what is actually taking place, he alleges.