THE (OLIGARCHIC) EMPIRE STRIKES BACK….
All this suggested to some observers that Kasyanov was becoming the leader of–or at least the focal point for–resistance on the part of leading Yeltsin-era oligarchs and their bureaucratic allies to the arrival on their turf by Putin-era interlopers. Namely, the “Chekists,” consisting of St. Petersburg special service veterans and various tycoons allied to them, like Sergei Pugachev, the founder of Mezhprombank and long-time Putin associate who now sits in the Federation Council. That Kasyanov and his oligarchic ally, Chukotka Governor Roman Abramovich, were able to get their man, Yury Sukhanov, elected head of the Slavneft state oil company, and to keep him there despite opposition from the Chekists and Pugachev (who were allegedly responsible for the criminal probe of Sukhanov and the Bashkortostan court ruling challenging his election as Slavneft president), was evidence of the Chekists’ “impotence,” as the journalist Yulia Latynina put it. Perhaps more important, both Kasyanov’s remarks and the Slavneft controversy suggested that while Putin’s popularity among the masses remained intact, his power and authority within the elite–which in Russia tends to be a key leading indicator–was beginning to follow the GDP growth rate downward.