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Who is Fradkov?

02.03.2004 11:07

Johnson’s Russia List #8096. 2 March 2004

Thanks for posting BBC Monitoring’s Brief biography of Putin nominee for Russian prime minister. (#8094). I think some of your readers can benefit from being shown the codes that are embedded in Mr. Fradkov’s biography. Here is what BBC Monitoring says: “Fradkov was born in Kuybyshev Region in 1950, graduated from Moscow’s Machine-tool and Instrumentation Institute [...]. He worked in foreign economic ties and up to 1975 was a member of staff of the economic counsellor in the USSR embassy in India.” BBC Monitoring neglected to say that Fradkov was posted to India in 1973, even though this titbit is quite important. If at the age of 23, two years after his graduation from the Institute, Fradkov was posted to India, and spent a two year tour there, it should tell us a great deal.

Americans may think that Fradkov moved to India after graduation to find a guru for his spiritual development, the way that the Beatles did at the time, but this is, well, highly unlikely. A 23 year old graduate posted by the Soviets to India in 1973 could fit only two profiles: he was at the time already working for the Special Services (and had already been trained by them), or he had a tremendous pull. Since he is a graduate of Moscow’s Machine-tool and Instrumentation Institute, which is not a prestigious institution, and since he is not from Moscow, it is likely that he did not have the required pull, unless he got it through marriage. I rest my case.

It is exactly as the biography of Vladimir Putin who, aged 18, was accepted to the Law Department of the St. Petersburg State University, information, that gives 100% certainty that he had already been working for the KGB. We need to always take into account that in the Soviet Union an official foreign posting or a graduation from several Institutes or Departments was a sure sign of certain affiliation. And of course he who never worked in “Law Enforcement” never heads a law enforcement agency, and Fradkov was a head of the Tax Police.

As far as Fradkov’s appointment, I will note the following. Russia has always had one great struggle that determined most of its history: a struggle between creators and controllers / redistrutors. On one side, there was Boris Pasternak - and on the other the Committee that caused him to renounce his Nobel Prize. Russia, as we all know, has trouble producing: it simply sits on a fountain of oil and gas, and has a lot of mineral deposits. Yet, Russia has a few real industrialists: people who saved huge enterprises by reorganizing them, finding a market niche, creating a great product, and, the hardest of all, protecting their business from the Russian state (usually represented by the Tax Police).

Putin could have appointed one of such heroes as Prime Minister. Instead, Putin chose a person who was arming India against Pakistan and then headed the Russian Tax Police, the ultimate post-Soviet organization. During his illustrious career, Fradkov has never created anything, so his hands are clean. I am looking forward to seeing how cool his head is and whether his heart is aflame. As the Russian media commented, “The public thinks it’s time to skin the fat cats.” Well, Putin has got just the man to do it, even though Russia has tried that particular path of economic development before.

And of course, it is nice to see 100% of Russia’s top leadership come from the KGB: by the early 70ies, the KGB recruits were no longer ideological, but they were a bunch of cynical cutthroats. I am sure that following US-Russian relations will continue to be fun: it was getting a bit eerie when Yeltsin genuinely tried to build a democracy.

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