IDEOLOGI | Vad rör sig i huvudet på president Vladimir Putin? Frågan är speciellt relevant med tanke på vad som händer i dagens Ukraina.
Ryssland under Putin har aldrig dragit sig för att blanda sig i sina grannars inre angelägenheter. På den punkten avviker han inte nämnvärt från sina företrädare.
Men när spänningen nu ökar i och omkring Ukraina kan det var idé att studera vad det är för idéer som egentligen format Putin och hans medarbetare.
Irina Reznik, Stephen Bierman och Henry Meyer har för Bloomberg Markets skrivit en längre artikel om Igor Sechin, en av nyckelfigurerna kring presidenten, som är ganska avslöjande för hela Putins styre.
When Igor Sechin was working as President Vladimir Putin’s deputy chief of staff a decade ago, visitors to his Kremlin office noticed an unusual collection on the bookshelves: row after row of bound volumes containing minutes of Communist Party congresses.
The record stretched across the history of the party and its socialist predecessor — from the first meeting in March 1898 to the last one in July 1990, a year and a half before the Soviet Union collapsed, Bloomberg Markets will report in its March issue.
Sechin regularly perused the documents and took notes, says Dmitry Skarga, who at the time was chief executive officer of Russia’s largest shipping company, OAO Sovcomflot.
“He was drinking from this fountain of sacred knowledge so that Russia could restore its superpower status and take its rightful place in the world,” Skarga says.
Sechin’s back-to-the-future fascination with his country’s communist past is something he shares with Putin, who, soon after coming to power in 1999, restored the music (though not the lyrics) of the Soviet-era national anthem and later described the collapse of the USSR as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.
Sechin himself is an open admirer of socialist icons such as Cuba’s ailing Fidel Castro, the late anti-U.S. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and the executed Argentine Marxist Che Guevara, says Victor Mashendzhinov, who studied with Sechin at college. As a young man, Sechin served alongside Cuban fighters in the Cold War hot spots of Angola and Mozambique.
Sechin, 53, has put his careful study of communist-era documents into practice at state-run OAO Rosneft, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company by output and reserves. During a decade at Rosneft, Sechin has turned it into something resembling in size the gargantuan Soviet Union ministry that was once in charge of oil production, mainly by swallowing up rivals.
Sechin is the leading exponent of Putin’s stated determination to restore the state’s role in the Russian economy. Putin used Rosneft, through its acquisitions, to return Russian oil to state control. The company, 69.5 percent government owned, controls about 40 percent of Russia’s crude output.
Sechin declined requests to be interviewed or to answer written questions. In a telephone interview on Jan. 20, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of Sechin: “Sechin is a believer in the role of the state in his economic philosophy while at the same time not excluding a free-market approach. And he is firm in pursuing his viewpoint.”
Though politically stricken by economic stagnation, Putin is likely to stand for re-election in 2018, says Andrew Monaghan, a senior research fellow at Chatham House, a London-based research center.
“Putin’s leadership currently looks steady and sturdy enough to last until the next election,” he says.
Sechin looks well set, too. He now has his eyes on a post-communist breakthrough: In a Jan. 9 research note, Sberbank said Russian oil output will probably approach the Soviet-era peak of 11.4 million barrels a day by 2016 or 2017.
“It would be a very big psychological milestone for Russia to get back to the Soviet-era peak production,” says Julian Lee, a senior analyst at the London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies.
Tidskriftsomslag: Bloomberg Markets, mars 2014.