A Thousand Vladislav Surkov‘s Faces

An éminence grise. A puppeteer of the Kremlin. A political technologist of all Russia. A person with thousand faces. An unsurpassable plotter, who knows a lot of shortcomings and weaknesses of others. Ill-mannered and heartle…

An éminence grise. A puppeteer of the Kremlin. A political technologist of all Russia. A person with thousand faces. An unsurpassable plotter, who knows a lot of shortcomings and weaknesses of others. Ill-mannered and heartless. Kind and friendly. An ideal executor, who is able to change his attitudes and point of view without any scruples. A master and a servant.  A person, who restricts freedom. A comrade of rebellious rock musicians and a creative author of songs. All these controversial descriptions describe one and the same person –Vladimir Surkov, advisor of the President Vladimir Putin, who retired from the office in January this year and who previously was Deputy Head of the President administration.      
V. Surkov appeared in the corridors of the Kremlin in 1999 and worked with three presidents and two heads of the government, who managed to make a career and get the office of the Vice Minister. This is a really impressive career, having in mind, that this person has not come from Saint Petersburg alley where V. Putin with his gang grew up and did not belong to a close circle of the head of Russia, the core of which is made of a well-known cooperative-company that raised a number of oligarchs loyal to the President. We will not find the name of V. Surkov neither in the list of billionaires nor millionaires – according to tax return reports of the last year the value of his property was 9.698, 899       Roubles (99,330 Euros in the current currency rate).
Despite of this, it is hard to overvalue V. Surkov’s influence on the political life of Russia. Having failed to graduate from two institutes and only in 1990 in a mysterious way he was awarded the Master’s degree in economy at Moscow International University, he held the top management office long before that in two big financial companies, not to mention a previous position of the Executive general of the advertising or public relations companies in several very solid companies.   
V. Surkov used this experience with a vengeance in the Kremlin strengthening the power of V. Putin. Namely he implemented the President’s initiative to develop a so-called ‘power vertical’ in liquidation of the actual multi-party system, annulment of elections of the governors by introducing a total control of the press and television. Namely he made the political block founded by Boris Berezovsky, the opponent of V. Putin, presidential power party United Russia that is dominating in the political landscape of Russia.  Besides, the same D. Surkov is the manager of projects creating the controlling opposition. 
Namely V. Surkov formulated the term ‘sovereign democracy’, thus he became the most important customer and censor of information and analytical programs of TV channels. There was a time when editors of the main Russian media used to meet every Thursday in V. Surkov’s office in order to get detailed instructions what they could write and show and what not. Later such meetings were not necessary, because editors, who have been censored for a long time, started censuring themselves.   
Alongside political technologies other tasks that are also very important, Ukrainian matters are the main among them were assigned to V. Surkov. Despite of sanctions applied against him by the West, in October 2016 he represented the interests of Russia in the summit of the Normandy Four held in Berlin, where there was a discussion how Minsk agreements were observed. In 2017 he discussed the issue of Ukraine with Kurt Walker, a representative of the U.S. Department of State. A prominent French analyst Daniel Vernet called V. Surkov a universal master of the Kremlin, who is more or less dealing with locked conflicts.     
How did it happen that a child raised in the dormitory from a periphery, left by the Caucasian father at an early age and raised  in a one-parent family ever since, managed to reach the top of career? Of course, strong motivation and great luck and extraordinary talent were necessary for that. It seems that V. Surkov did not lack any of these elements.
Let’s start from the fact that the real surname of V. Surkov had to be Dudayev – according to his father Andarbek Dudayev. However, his birth certificate indicates that he was born on 21 September 1964 in Solncev town in Lipeck region and was named under his mother – Zoja Surkova- her maiden name, meanwhile there are no details about his father in the certificate. In various V. Surkov biographies there are allusions that A. Dudayev left the family early and the future statesman was raised by his grandparents for a while.     
At school V. Surkov stood out for his extraordinary skills and was an active pupil: he got the best marks, was writing poetry and was the class monitor. Thus, most people got surprised when a guy of a poetic spirit chose studies at Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys. Nevertheless, he did not become a metallurgist – after two semesters he was expelled from the list of students. According to some sources this happened because of his wild life. Another way was waiting for the student expelled from the institute  – service in the Soviet army. There are official statements that a former student was sent to the artillery unit in Hungary, however in 2006 Sergei Ivanov, the Ministry of Defence of that time in one TV interview admitted that V. Surkov was serving in Special Service Forces of GRU.    
In 1986 V. Surkov returned from the army and tried to study again. This time he chose a much closer place to his nature – Moscow Institute of Culture, the Faculty of Directing and Acting. However, these studies did not last longer, either – he was expelled still in the first course. Formally, because of family matters, non-officially – because of fighting in the dormitory. V. Surkov did not try to study again, however in 1990 he unexpectedly was awarded Master’s degree in economy at Moscow International University. As co-workers of the future statesman talked in public, he simply bought the diploma.   
This version should not be eliminated, even having no formal education V. Surkov already was a well paid manager of Advertising department of the Center of Inter-branch scientific technical programs of the rising oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and later – to the Market communication company . We should note that an acquaintance with M. Khodorkovsky, with whom V. Surkov not only worked but also exercised martial arts, played a major role in the career of the future statesman. In a very short time he climbed the career ladder up to a member of the Board of directors of the bank and later – the First Deputy Chairman of Alfa Bank. Another ladder up was the position of the First deputy of the Director General of the TV channel for public relations (now – the First Channel). It enabled V. Surkov to get acquainted with ‘heavyweights’ of politics and business such as Boris Berezovsky, Alexander Voloshin or Roman Abramovich and earned a good name in a solid company.     
Then year 1999 was the breaking point in V. Surkov’s career. Then he was appointed Deputy Head of the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin’ administration responsible for relations with the State Duma. Changes in the Head of the State had no impact on V. Surkov. Much later in one interview he confirmed that he was a person who helped B. Yeltzin to pass the power peacefully and V. Putin – to stabilize a political system.   
From the very start of his new activities V. Surkov immersed himself into political technologies. His first project was an election block Yedinstvo that emerged as a balance of the mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov’s corporation Fatherland – all Russia. Later D. Surkov’s project was transferred to the party of the power United Russia.  Besides, V.Putin’s advisor started organizing so-called opposition socio-democratic party The right Russia that actually became the second political party of the government. Not to mention various youth organizations such as Going together, that was later reorganized to the movement Our people supporting V. Putin.
Later V. Surkov’s authorities became more extensive. Then he became responsible for the internal policy of Russia as Head of President Administration. Nonetheless, subordination of the media under the control of the Kremlin was his main area of activities. V. Surkov was heartily dedicated to execution of this task that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a member of the US Congress called him one of the main ideologists, restrictor of freedom of word, persecutor of journalists and opposition people. Oppositionists required V. Surkov’s resignation several times and charged him with falsification of election results, disruption of political competition and organization of campaigns against public organizations. It is interesting that meantime V. Surkov approved in public participants of the protest against falsification of results to the State Duma in December 2011 and called them as the best part of the society, the opinion of which cannot be ignored.
There were a lot of controversies in the activities of the artistic aesthete. He was compared with the water in the dish that easily gains the form of the dish, changes his priorities and values depending on what his master was following. V. Surkov allowed himself to rebel. In May 2011, being the Deputy Head of the government, he started a debate with V. Putin, who was criticizing the work of the cabinet; as a result of what he was immediately removed from the office.     
Indeed, V. Surkov stayed behind the walls of the Kremlin not long. After four months he was appointed V. Putin’s advisor for relations with Abkhazia and Northern Ossetia. Nonetheless, his non-official field of activities was secret diplomacy in Ukraine and later – relations with Pro-Russian Separatist controlled Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic and even coordinated activities of their military groups.      
Ukraine remained one of the most important V.Surkov’s fields of activities for several years. However, on 25 January of the current year information emerged that a long time V. Putin’s advisor was retreating from political activities. An official announcement about his dismissal was published on the Kremlin’s website on 18 February. People say that V. Surkov made this decision after the position of the Russian government towards Ukraine changed.  
What did the retreating V. Surkov left to Russia? As Aleksandr Dugin, the ideologist of the Kremlin and author of the Eurasian idea says, one of his core stones is the concept of ’sovereign democracy’, which actually means that an authoritarian management is hidden under a formal democracy, dictatorship hidden under the procedures of democracy when all processes are being managed by a fist from one centre.
According to A. Dugin, the result of V. Surkov’s twelve year of activities is a mixture of Byzantium and Postmodern will be included in the textbooks as the most successful example of the enormous social fraud. Besides, the political analyst thinks that these years were the triumph of insanity, bad taste and disgust and asks a question: Will this dark side of V.Surkov’s time become fatal to the country and V. Putin? There is no answer to this question, however one thing is clear:  head of Russia will not find another éminence grise like him.
Aras Lukšas

Voras Online
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