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Feature Story May 29, 2003
The Man Behind The Man
By Alexander Makarkin Browse author

Most expats think they know the angles in Moscow. If you ask them about politics here, they'll cynically sneer that it's all palm-greasing, which gives them an excuse not to learn anything about how Russian government actually works. Information has been harder to come by ever since Putin came to power. The point of this article is to give you an inside look on just how a career in the current Russian regime is made, and the connections and cross-fertilization involved in making that career. We've translated it from the infamous muckracking newspaper Sovershenno Sekretno, which was founded by Artyom Borovik, a journalist who died in a mysterious plane crash shortly after Putin came to power. The subject is Russia's powerful but enigmatic Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov.

Once again the papers are saying that Mikhail Kasyanov is about to be fired. These rumors went into full swing after the recent United Russia party congress, which fiercely criticized Kasyanov's cabinet for "doing the oligarchs' bidding on the oil pipeline issue." But Kasyanov has already survived a dozen such rumors and will almost certainly remain in power. He is, above all, a survivor.

Mikhail Kasyanov has led the Russian government since May 2000, but he remains a mysterious figure. Until just a few years ago, Kasyanov was an obscure civil servant in the Ministry of Finance. He only reached the position of First Deputy Minister of Finance in February, 1999. Yet one year later he leapt to the top three posts one after the other: Minister, First Deputy Prime Minister and finally Prime Minister.

This kind of sudden success might have gone to a lesser man's head. But Kasyanov remains an emphatic technocrat who keeps his distance from politics. He doesn't like risk or seek the spotlight. That fact that he spent his whole life in government has left its mark both on his character and on the makeup of his team.

Sergei Kolotukhin, Deputy Finance Minister

Sergei Kolotukhin, Deputy Finance Minister

Alexander Livshits, advisor

Alexander Livshits, advisor

Alexander Kotelkin, former head of Rosvooruzhenie

Alexander Kotelkin, former head of Rosvooruzhenie

Vitaly Artyukhov, Minister of Natural Resources

Vitaly Artyukhov, Minister of Natural Resources

Yuri Sukhanov, head of Slavneft

Yuri Sukhanov, head of Slavneft

Vladimir Chernukhin, head of Vnesheconombank

Vladimir Chernukhin, head of Vnesheconom bank

Energy Minister Igor Yusufov (left) and head of the government apparatus Igor Shuvalov

Energy Minister Igor Yusufov (left) and head of the government apparatus Igor Shuvalov

The Men behind The Man behind The Man: Kasyanov

The Men behind The Man behind The Man: Kasyanov's circle of friends

eXile Phat Phacts!

Your Glossary to understanding the Prime Minister!

MIKHAIL KASYANOV: Nicknamed "Misha Two-Percent." Accused by Geneva prosecutors of having signed order allowing transfer of $20 million in bribe money via Vnesheconombank to Geneva account of Mabatex, which was at the center of a major money laundering scandal that went all the way up to President Yeltsin.

OLEG LOBOV: Took $79,000 from Aum Shinri Kyo cult in exchange for blueprints to Russian nerve gas factory. In 1995, Aum Shinri killed 12 and wounded thousands in a sarin gas attack on a Tokyo subway.

UNIKOMBANK: Accused in 1997 by Central Bank chairman of playing role with Andrei Vavilov in disappearance of nearly half a billion dollars in state funds intended for a bogus MiG contract. Shots were fired into Central Bank chairman's apartment window. Criminal case was dropped. Unikombank collapsed in 1998.

ANDREI VAVILOV: Once considered a "young reformer" by Western press corps. Accused by Russian press in 1997 of having helped embezzle nearly half a billion dollars from a MiG factory, and $400 million in Peruvian debt instruments. Survived attempted car-bombing assassination attempt same year.

ARKO: Agency on the Restructuring of Credit Organizations. Ineffective and highly-criticized state agency designed to stabilize, manage and shut down banks that had collapsed after 1998 financial crisis. Accused of having gone very soft, to say the least, on SBS-Agro.

ALEXANDER MAMUT: His Sobinbank and MDM-Bank were both fingered by the FBI as playing key roles in the infamous BoNY scandal in 1999, funneling funds from the Russian underworld as well as stolen IMF money, via the Bank of New York, into off-shore bank accounts across the world.

YURI MASLYUKOV: Highest-ranking Communist member of government during Yelstin presidency. Accused by Grigory Yavlinsky of "bribe-taking" in 1998.

BANK ROSSIISKY KREDIT: Stole eXile's money. President Vitaly Malkin said to control bank account that helped funnel $700 million in Angolan money intended to pay back Soviet-era debt which instead was kicked back to Russian and Angolan officials. Vavilov was also involved.

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Save The eXile: The War Nerd Calls Mayday
The future of The eXile is in your hands! We're holding a fundraiser to save the paper, and your soul. Tune in to Gary Brecher's urgent request for reinforcements and donate as much as you can. If you don't, we'll be overrun and wiped off the face of the earth, forever.

Scanning Moscow’s Traffic Cops
Automotive Section
We’re happy to introduce a new column in which we publish Moscow’s raw radio communications, courtesy of a Russian amateur radio enthusiast. This issue, eXile readers are given a peek into the secret conversations of Moscow’s traffic police, the notorious "GAIshniki."

Eleven Years of Threats: The eXile's Incredible Journey
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Good Night, and Bad Luck: In a nation terrorized by its own government, one newspaper dared to fart in its face. Get out your hankies, cuz we’re taking a look back at the impossible crises we overcame.

Your Letters
Russia's freedom-loving free market martyr Mikhail Khodorkovsky answers some of this week's letters, and he's got nothing but praise for President Medvedev.

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The Fortnight Spin
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Jared comes out with yet another roundup of upcoming bardak sessions.

Your Letters
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13 Toxic Talents: Hollywood’s Worst Polluters
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Everybody complains about celebrities, but nobody does anything about them. People, it’s time to stop fretting about whether we’re a celebrity-obsessed culture—we are, we have been, we’re going to be—and instead take practical steps to clean up the celebrity-obsessed culture we’ve got...


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