A brief history of the formation of the political and economic elite in the Sverdlovsk region from 1985 to the present.
Prehistory (history of the formation of the power elite in Russia and the Urals until 1985)
In the 1980s, the CPSU played a decisive role in the political life of the Sverdlovsk Region and the USSR as a whole. The vertical of the party power tightly controlled appointments to leading posts in the regions, although a certain "pluralism of opinions" took place due to conflicts with each other of various party clans. Power structures (the KGB, the army, the prosecutor's office, the police) and business executives (the management of large enterprises) played an important role, but they were subordinate to the CPSU. The party "nomenklatura" (top management) lived by its own laws, confirming a hundred-year-old thesis of the historian Klyuchevsky that Russia is governed not by aristocracy or democracy, but by bureaucracy. There was also a parallel hierarchy of “thieves in law” that grew up in the subculture of the prison world. It is assumed that the official government controlled the criminal world through the prison administration, but other versions have a right to exist.
The inability of the command-administrative system to get involved in the scientific and technological revolution of the 1970s necessitated the restructuring of not only the economic, but also the political mechanism of the USSR in the direction of liberalization. The Sverdlovsk region was assigned an important role in the planned transformations due to the high economic and intellectual potential of the region.
Weak preparation of reforms and the extremely high rate of their implementation in the second half of the 1980s led to the loss of control over the situation in the country by the central authorities. The material sit-uation of the population deteriorated many times due to the destruction of economic ties in the course of indiscriminate reforms, which was aggravated by the decline in oil prices, which was exported by the USSR.
The weakening of the central government led to the strengthening of centrifugal tendencies. In 1990, opposition leader Boris Yeltsin came to power in the structure-forming republic of the Soviet Union - the RSFSR. The most widespread point of view on the alignment of political forces before the elections in 1990 was the idea that there are two camps: on the one hand, the “conservative” power elite represented by the party apparatus, heads of government bodies and large industrial enterprises, and on the other hand, representatives "Democratic" public, mainly represented by the scientific, technical and creative intellectuals. In our opinion, in reality the competition was not between the bureaucratic apparatus and the public, but between various groups within the bureaucratic apparatus. The alignment of forces in the Sverdlovsk region can be described as follows – follow the link.
A native of the Sverdlovsk Region, Yeltsin ensured even greater representation of the regional elite in the Russian government. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 provided Yeltsin with full power in Russia.
Yeltsin received the support of the regional elites thanks to the expansion of the rights of regional authorities, which were significantly strengthened economically due to the decentralization of economic powers during "Restructuring" (1985-1990). However, the decentralization of powers did not lead to significant liberalization of the economy - the diktat of the union ministries replaced the diktat of regional industrial associations, which had a monopoly character. In 1990, the head of one of these monopolists (TBA "Sreduralstroy"), Eduard Rossel, became the top official in the Sverdlovsk region.
The election of officials only to some extent increased their independence, without denying the vertical of power, and support from higher comrades remained a necessary factor in career growth. The conflict between the regional authorities and the central authorities and the city authorities with the regional authorities in the 1990s became possible only if both the regional and city rulers had support in the Kremlin from the clans competing with each other.
Some liberalization of the economic sphere in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to an increase in the independence of the economic sphere from the political and even to the reverse influence: the possession of eco-nomic resources became a factor in political struggle. Foreign economic activity was of primary importance, and the state gradually abandoned its monopoly. The foreign economic sphere, first of all, was "privatized" by the officials who dealt with it in the state apparatus, security officials (especially foreign intelligence) and criminals. The greatest advantages were received by the groups in which all of the above categories were represented. It was these groups that took control of the export of products of the largest metallurgical enterprises of the Sverdlovsk region (Nizhniy Tagil metallurgical plant, Uralelektromed and others), which gives the highest income in the region. Subsequently, these groups evolved into the largest financial and industrial groups in the country (Evraz-group, UMMC, PMC, Renova). Throughout the 2000s, "reputable" entrepreneurs who owned Sverdlovsk enterprises intensively trained high-society manners, which was useful to some of them at trials in London, where such well-known names in the Urals as the brothers Chernois, Makhmudov (UMMC), Deripaska (RUSAL) , Abramovich (Evraz-group).
In the 2000s, the country begins to strengthen the vertical of power, and if earlier the support of the Kremlin was only one of the necessary conditions for the seizure and retention of power at the regional level, then from the second half of the 2000s it becomes a sufficient condition. The process of replacing influential regional "barons", including Eduard Rossel in the Sverdlovsk region, began only in the late 2000s. After an unsuccessful experiment with Alexander Misharin, who early resigned in 2012, the post of governor of the Sverdlovsk region was taken by Evgeny Kuyvashev, who, like Misharin, does not have his own political weight and developed abilities of a public politician, which in the context of the complex political life of the Sverdlovsk region looked like a convincing call for early retirement. However, Kuyvashev managed to hold on to the post of governor of the Sverdlovsk region and create the appearance of public support during the 2017 elections by organizing a drawing of valuable prizes at polling stations. Moreover, in 2018, forces close to Evgeny Kuyvashev even managed to liquidate the center of confrontation with the regional authorities in the Yekaterinburg administration - the majority of candidates loyal to the governor won the elections to the city duma. However, as history shows, this unanimity is unlikely to last long. Even with the leading role of the CPSU, the city authorities of Sverdlovsk (the old name of Yekaterinburg) managed to pursue a relatively independent policy - the social composition of Yekaterinburg and most other cities of the region is too different for the union of city and regional authorities to predict a cloudless future.
In 2019, Yekaterinburg demonstrated its character, having thundered across the country with protests against the construction of a temple in the city square. In the confrontation between the alliance of the state apparatus, copper oligarchs and the church with a poorly organized mass of urban intelligentsia, who decided to hang out in the park in spite of the authorities, the "intelligentsia" won, oddly enough. In this confrontation, first of all, the weaknesses of the conflicting parties were clearly manifested. Civil society demonstrated its inability to organize itself: when the defeated enemy raised the white flag, it turned out that there was no one to surrender to - the protesters were unable to elect their representatives. But the opposite side broke all records for making idiotic decisions, despite the vaunted vertical of power and an abundance of resources: Moscow TV stars campaigning for the temple, a crowd of Orthodox roughnecks who managed to fight not only with protesters, but also with the police, who disappeared somewhere for a couple hours on the first day of the protests, the police, whose leadership, apparently, was afraid to get into a scandalous situation and did not trust the ability of their subordinates to resolve the conflict situation. But the most important thing is the squabble between all groups in power to justify themselves in front of the Boss in the Kremlin and to substitute the other as the one to blame for the mess in the region.
This vertical of power, ready to turn into a bunch of gnawing at each other in any danger, has demonstrated that it can work only with the "proletariat" (industrial workers), buying it with victories in the Crimea, prize cars at polling stations and sparkles of pop performers from blue screens. The intelligentsia, like 30 years ago, remains for the authorities some kind of alien, incomprehensible phenomenon, despite the fact that the authorities mainly consist of representatives of this particular social group.
Let's try to reflect, as befits a decent intelligentsia, and try to understand what the intelligentsia is and what it actually needs. We share the point of view that an intellectual, unlike an intellectual, is not necessarily a person engaged in intellectual work, but it is necessarily a person who cares about public interests. In this respect, some foreman of the miners may be more intelligent than a conventional Perelman living in the world of mathematical formulas. Thus, in our understanding, the intelligentsia is a group of people who have a need to make socially significant decisions.
Making decisions that are significant for society is actually the exercise of power. Thus, the natural need of any intellectual is the desire to possess power, just as for a living organism, breathing and food are a natural need. The problem is that the overwhelming majority of Russian intellectuals, even imagining themselves as liberals, are terribly authoritarian and do not seek to share power with others. We tend to either command or obey, but we do not know how to cooperate in the exercise of power. Russian intellectuals do not self-organize, but cluster around the one they recognize as the leader. One group is able to interact with another only on the orders and under the supervision of a higher-order leader; at the same levels, these groups are usually unable to agree on joint activities.
When one of the heaps in the course of the internecine war overthrows the other and seizes political power in Russia, those small groups of the intelligentsia who agree to enter the orbit of its influence become state power, and the rest inevitably turn into irreconcilable opposition, since the dominant group agrees to delegate power only absolutely loyal to a handful of minor leaders. As a result, the authorities and the opposition mutually despise each other, and despise the more, the more they are alike. The middle-level manager despises the bloodsucking bureaucrats who suck the juices from the working people, but, having become a middle-level official, he also strongly begins to despise the redneck people, who are not capable of productive activities, but can only whine and demand help from the state. The mutual hatred of the authorities and the opposition feeds and justifies each other: the authorities tighten the screws, because otherwise “the young punks will sweep her off the face of the Earth,” and the opposition is extremely revolutionary, because the authorities are not ready to share a single drop of powers with the opposition.
We see only one way out of this vicious circle - to learn intergroup interaction. We know how to work alone, we know how to unite for the sake of something or someone and work in a group, but we do not know how to interact in groups and this needs to be learned. And only when we start to succeed, no matter at what level and no matter what tasks are being solved, maybe it will be possible to build a wonderful Russia of the future.
Yes, state capitalists in power steal on an insane scale and break many destinies. But any attempt at another revolutionary coup under the leadership of another leader will lead to the construction of a new no less filthy vertical of power on the rubble of an even greater number of destinies.
Irreconcilable revolutionaries declare that the government will never allow the unification of people who threaten the monopoly of power. But as the experience of the "square" protests in Yekaterinburg, has shown, the authorities are ready to accept the will of citizens, expressed in a peaceful form and not directly aimed at seizing political and economic power. And what this will lead to in the future for the next two genera-tions of the "collective Putin" is not so important - real estate and accounts abroad will provide more than one generation of descendants of the current heaps of intellectuals who have privatized state power in Russia.
It is possible that the "collective Putin" is represented by groups of the intelligentsia better than others capable of intergroup interaction. We assume that in 1990 the moderate conservatives who controlled a significant part of the Soviet secret services entered into an alliance with radical liberals who formed a financial and economic bloc in the government of Boris Yeltsin. In 1991, this alliance defeated the radical conservatives who organized the putsch, and became the basis for the formation of the "liberal-KGB clans" that rule Russia to this day. Among the members of the Sverdlovsk elite, a prominent representative of moderate conservatives was Oleg Lobov, who after the collapse of the USSR became the secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, and the radical liberals - Gennady Burbulis, who became the first and last State Secretary of the Russian Federation.
Thus, despite some cannibalistic manifestations of the current political regime, on the whole, as a social phenomenon, it is perhaps the best education that can rule Russia at the moment. Despite the fact that indi-vidual representatives of the opposition are clearly more sympathetic to individual representatives of the government, the current government as a system of interacting groups is probably better for ruling Russia than the opposition, which is not even capable of such a low level of organization of social ties, which is demonstrated by modern "liberal-KGB clans ". At least until the opposition increases its level of development of intergroup interaction.
Date of information update: 2019.