The Kremlin is trapped in a Catch-22 of its own making. This became deadly evident last week with the nationwide wave of protests against the notorious Law 122, the law that strips millions of poor Russians of the little support they previously received from the state.
Yet the trap was imminent. It has been described on thousands of pages of textbooks that outline the pitfalls of nontransparent, corporate-type regimes with corrupt and closed bureaucracies.
The law was developed and written by bureaucrats barely familiar with everyday life in the nation they believe they govern.
They live in tightly guarded compounds on Rublyovskoye Shosse and in Arkhangelskoye, paid for by the property department of the presidential administration. They dash to their offices in state-provided foreign cars and have no knowledge of Moscow's traffic jams and skyrocketing gasoline prices, let alone the price for the Metro or the bus. They receive free medical care in special well- equipped, Kremlin-run clinics, and in case they get really sick, they are taken to Germany or Switzerland, for which they don't pay out of pocket, either. On top of that, in accordance with the new law on public administration, which was passed at
exactly the same time as Law 122, they enjoy salaries at least 20 times the national average. Translated into market prices, the compensation packages of high-ranking bureaucrats come to at least $130,000 and as much as half a million dollars a year, compared to an average income of $6,000 in the nation's most well-to-do city, Moscow.
Monday, January 24, 2005
More on Kremlin insularity
This article, Law 122 Is Kremlin's Catch-22, says quite a bit about a Kremlin and Duma out of touch. An excerpt: