Putin Fires Russian Government
February 24, 2004 8:41 PM   Subscribe

President Putin fires entire Russian government. Sounds very ... dictatorial. Why so little concern in the media?
posted by yevge (28 comments total)
Boy, it'd sure be scary if we had someone with so little regard for our own Constitution here.
posted by interrobang at 8:51 PM on February 24, 2004

I'm wondering that myself - I think I heard the story both on National Public Radio and ther BBC this morning.....It could have been merely the Beeb.

I was thinking of posting it to Metafilter but thought - "No, someone else will do it." Well, yevge, but not for you it might have gone completely unremarked here.

I'm not sure Americans - or their media - are especially practiced at keeping more than a handful of foreign news stories in mind at once, and Iraq and the "War on Terror" are squatting on most of the available real estate - or so it seems.
posted by troutfishing at 8:55 PM on February 24, 2004

As for Putin, well look at it this way. He's a huge improvement on Stalin - both much smarter, I'd say, and fairly free of personal vices. Who knows - I'd have to say that, given the chance, he might well be a better US President than GW Bush has been thus far.

But that doesn't touch the story at hand. He probably has decided that he is the best one for the job and so decided to clear the decks. He certainly is highly trained in bare-knuckle power politics and political intrigue and is this such a bad thing ? A KGB man vs. the oligarchs - maybe he is a necessary evil ? Then there's Chechnya - ummmm.......

Go ahead - anybody - trash my opinions. They're not closely held on this one. I merely thought it merited some discussion.
posted by troutfishing at 9:06 PM on February 24, 2004

In other words - I think this is probably a bad development but I'm too unschooled in current Russian politics to evaluate exactly how bad, if at all.
posted by troutfishing at 9:08 PM on February 24, 2004

troutfishing, you commie!
posted by interrobang at 9:10 PM on February 24, 2004

Wow. I've been studying Russian history for a while now, and just a few days ago someone joked that, based on past performance, Russia was over due for some kind of dictatorship. Shades of Lenin.
Why does nothing ever go right for Russia? What if Peter the Great's reforms had lasted past his death? Or Catherine's? What if WWI hadn't interrupted Stalypin's plans for land redistribution? What if those idiots had paid attention to Lenin's last wishes and removed Stalin from any position of responsibility before he had a chance to consolidate power? What if the NEP had continued instead of the 5 year plans? THese are just a few of the places where Russia had a chance to better itself, and it got fucked up. I think the country is cursed.
posted by Grod at 9:13 PM on February 24, 2004

"With Kasyanov's dismissal, big business lost their last major lobbying channel in government," said Roland Nash, the chief strategist for the Renaissance Capital investment bank.

I think I know better, but I'm almost jealous of them.

Also, from the article:

Yeltsin famously fired four prime ministers in 19 months, finally settling on Putin just months before abruptly resigning from the presidency himself on Dec. 31, 1999.

...suggesting that Putin isn't exactly breaking new ground here. I can't really find a good analysis of what this means in Russian politics either, though the BBC doesn't seem too perturbed.
posted by furiousthought at 9:21 PM on February 24, 2004

I saw nothing on the news either, read about it on Fark.com though, and I haven't seen anything on the news about the Ivan Rybkin kidnapping either, which I also found out about on Fark.

You know the media is getting pretty bad when Fark and The Daily Show have been giving better coverage of news events than the major networks.
posted by bobo123 at 9:21 PM on February 24, 2004

Google News is fun, the headlines from around the world give an interesting insight into how other countries view this.
posted by Grod at 9:21 PM on February 24, 2004

I've also been waiting for someone to post about this. Recent developments in Russia have been very scary and this is just the latest. The jailing of Khodorkovsky, Rybkin's misterious disappearance, Putin's wistful comments earlier this month about the decline of the Soviet Empire, the high-profile military exercises (with flubbed missile test) are more examples. My Russian ex-pat friends all adore Putin, and I'll admit he is a very compelling and charismatic leader. This is becoming very worrisome.
posted by TimeFactor at 9:33 PM on February 24, 2004

posted by TimeFactor at 9:34 PM on February 24, 2004

The major issue here is not so much that the government was dismissed, but the timing of the dismissal. Elections are only three weeks away and, following those, the government is automatically disbanded and reformed (much like the US government after a Presidential election)

Taken from here. At any rate, it appears to be more of an election strategy than power grab.
posted by Ljubljana at 9:49 PM on February 24, 2004

Then there's the Chechnya thing... supposedly Putin went into Chechnya because of the terrorist attacks on some Russian apartment buildings that took over 300 lives... though it is speculated the bombs were planted by the FSB (the new KGB) to justify the war (they actually caught some FSB guys planting a bomb). Considering all the stuff going down (as TimeFactor mentioned) I wouldn't put it past Putin.
posted by bobo123 at 9:54 PM on February 24, 2004

I just assumed it wasn't a big deal and that I didn't understand the Russian gov't. For instance, what does this mean? "The dismissal of the prime minister also means the dismissal of the rest of the government, though any of them could be reappointed."
posted by smackfu at 10:02 PM on February 24, 2004

He's a huge improvement on Stalin

might want to check with thechechen's on that assessment - course there is not much media allowed in chechyna these days ...
posted by specialk420 at 10:14 PM on February 24, 2004

Everything I heard on NPR kind of classified this as a election year shake up, to try and show that he is restructuring his administration and making reforms. try this to get the stream.
posted by Hackworth at 10:39 PM on February 24, 2004

Does anyone here have any understanding of the Russian government and how this factors into their constitution and laws? I'd sure like to know.
posted by velacroix at 11:31 PM on February 24, 2004

Erm, he actualy fired his cabinet, not the 'government' (as in, the congress/house/parlement/duma/whatever is still there.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 PM on February 24, 2004

Some quick Googling on Rybkin news reveals:

"Late last month, state television cast doubt on the validity of Rybkin's signatures [needed to run for president], suggesting in news reports that students had been hired to falsify them.

Rybkin fired back that the lists of signatures shown on television were not his but Putin's, bearing the president's date of birth at the top. He argued this in a letter sent to Veshnyakov and media outlets on Thursday, the day he disappeared."

Hell in a handbasket, I tell you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:45 AM on February 25, 2004

Putin has long been at odds with his now former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov so this is no surprise. The only legal way for Putin to fire him under their constitution is to disband his whole cabinet. That he did this before elections to me shows that he is confident that he holds the will of the people. If he were unsure he could have just as easily waited until after elections and that would be something traditional to worry about.
posted by roboto at 2:11 AM on February 25, 2004

As I understand it, dismissing one's cabinet in a Parliamentary democracy, while not an every day occurrence, is also not that big of a deal. It sounds drastic to USians, but with national elections right around the corner anyway, disbanding the cabinet now is probably more of a way for Putin to telegraph his post election intentions to distance his government from some holdover elements left from Yeltsin's time in power.
posted by syzygy at 4:36 AM on February 25, 2004

syzygy- Agreed. Not that this is a great thing, but many countries grant their president/PM (whoever is the "leader") this ability, to varying degree. India, Pakistan, and Italy come to mind.
posted by mkultra at 6:40 AM on February 25, 2004

As delmoi said.. he fired his Cabinet, not his government.

While it would be something for a US President to get rid of his whole cabinet (Secretary of State, Defense etc...), it would not be illegal, or outside the bounds of his power.

Foreign governments tend to do this kind of thing more often, as the cabinets are many times a power-sharing arrangement to appease opposition groups. Also, as in Putin's case, it's a political move to illustrate change.

(gee.. now I'm fantisizing about Bush firing his whole Cabinet.. while it wouldn't be getting rid of him.. oh, the temporary joy it may bring me.)
posted by rich at 7:17 AM on February 25, 2004

This is completely normal in the run up to an election. I believe the US President often 'requests' the resignation of the entire cabinet right before elections, this is just the Russian version of the same political practice.
posted by tiamat at 7:43 AM on February 25, 2004


/Ask Kasparov
posted by magullo at 8:51 AM on February 25, 2004

sorry, here's that npr audio link I fubar'd earlier, if anyone is still interested.
posted by Hackworth at 9:41 AM on February 25, 2004

I believe the US President often 'requests' the resignation of the entire cabinet right before elections...

Wait, when has that ever happened?
posted by skoosh at 12:31 AM on February 26, 2004

IMO I think when you combine this with comments he made to GW Bush about Afghanistan - something along the lines of the russian government being approached by terrorists who were willing to make it very difficult for the Americans if the Russians financed them... seemingly a veiled threat... it reeks of a new, subtler cold war, but with more major powers.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 8:19 PM on February 26, 2004

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