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Amendment Process And Oil Price Decision Shows Kremlin Decision-Making Mired In Chaos – OpEd


Two recent developments, the clearly improvised process of amending the constitution and the move which has triggered the collapse of oil prices indicates that the decision-making process in the Kremlin is increasingly chaotic and may become even more so, Anatoly Nemiyan who writes under the screen name “El Myurid” says.

The occasion, timing and process of the amendments suggest improvisation rather than a clear decision the blogger says; and doubts about that have only been reinforced, Nemiyan continues (

 Unlike Boris Yeltsin, Putin had not won a victory over opponents and thus both needed and was in a position to rewrite the country’s basic law. “Putin hasn’t defeated anyone,” and thus changes aren’t those of a victor but of someone who has acted with fraud and sleight of hand. “And this means that just as it has been adopted, it can be changed yet again.”

Moreover, Putin moved four years ahead of when he faced the issue of running or not running for president, a violation of his normal practice of keeping his counsel on this to himself. To be sure, he can still milk the situation for drama but only with all the players knowing that the outcome is not in doubt, a recognition that changes the political game.

That raises the possibility that he acted impulsively or out of concern that someone might steal a march on him, a possibility that gains even more credibility from the fact that the entire process was chaotic in the extreme. It even appeared that “everything was taking place” in reaction to others and thus “an improvisation” rather than according to a carefully made plan.

One can thus conclude, “with an extremely high degree of certainty,” that “in the ruling nomenklatura are rapidly growing destructive processes which are leading the Russian vertical into open confusion.”

Such a conclusion is only strengthened by the Kremlin’s decision to break with OPEC and send oil prices tumbling.  “A large part of the companies of the oil branch clearly weren’t prepared for the decision” and their top managers reacted in anything but a fully supportive manner to the negative consequences this decision led to.

Such “chaos” in decision making, Nemiyan continues, also appears to explain why the Kremlin is pushing to hard to get the amendments to the constitution confirmed “despite any legal arrangements.” And that leads to the most disturbing of conclusions: “chaos is growing” and in some future crisis, that could lead to the most unexpected outcomes.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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