Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Every reformer has a trusted ally.

Last night, reading about Alexander II's man Prime Minister Peter Stolypin (perhaps the only man to blunt the Czar's reactionary attitudes before being killed in 1911), I wondered how many reformist Russian leaders have had a trusted adviser/reformer that has threatened to resign (as Stolypin did) when reactionary forces begin to gain the day?

I remember when Edvard Shevardnaze resigned- warning Gorbachev (December, 1990) that he would regret allowing rightist forces to gain the upper hand (and he was).

More recently, Alexander Voloshin, Putin's Chief of Staff, trusted adviser and Yeltsin holdover, resigned over the Khodorkovsky affair (and perhaps Putin's growing reliance on (conservative) ex-security members for his staff- or siloviki-as well). However, to Putin's credit, he appointed Dmitry Medvedev, a St. Petersburg reformer, to become Chief-of-Staff- and is currently rumored as Putin's hand-picked successor.

Finally, I reviewed the Khrushchev era to find out that Marshall Zhukov (pictured above) was a trusted adviser as well- one whose popularity induced jealosy from both Khrushchev and Brezhnev. A real military hero, Zhukov tempted fate by prancing ceremoniously on a horse to wide applause during a 1945 Victory Day parade- Stalin was not pleased (demoted, not killed).

Zhukov supported Khrushchev against his enemies- Beria and Molotov- and bravely denounced
neo-Stalinists within the Party at the time. But his popular appeal was too much a threat to Khruschev- and he was expelled from his Central Committee Chair. Incidentally, I was surprised to find A MUSEUM dedicated to him (though I should not- I get the impression that state museums are everywhere in the Soviet Union).

How does Zhukov (for those that remember) fare today. Moscow News reports that a survey in 2001 by the Russian Civil Service Academy shows the following approval ratings:

32.9% Joseph Stalin
90.2% Peter the Great
39.9% Vladimir Lenin
80.8% Georgy Zhukov


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