Vladislav Surkov

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Vladislav Surkov

Vladislav Yuryevich Surkov (Russian: Владислав Юрьевич Сурков́, born Aslanbek Andarbekovich Dudayev) (born 21 September 1964)[1] is a Russian businessman and politician of Chechen descent.[2] He was First Deputy of the Chief of the Russian Presidential Administration from 1999 to 2011, during which time he was widely seen as the main ideologist of the Kremlin who proposed and implemented the concept of “managed” democracy in Russia.

From December 2011 until 8 May 2013 he served as the Russian Federation's Deputy Prime Minister.[3][4] After voluntarily resignation from this position, Surkov became a personal adviser of Vladimir Putin on relationships with Abkhasia, South Ossetia and Ukraine [5]. According to Ukrainian authorities, Surkov had organized snipers who killed protesters and police during the Ukrainian Euromaidan in January 2014,[5][6] an accusation that was dismissed by Russian government as "absurd" [7]

Early years[edit]

He was born as Aslanbek Dudayev to Zinaida Antonovna Surkova (born 1935) and Chechen father[2] Andarbek (Yuriy) Danil'bekovich Dudayev, both of whom were school teachers in Duba-yurt, Checheno-Ingush SSR. He served from 1983 to 1985 in a Soviet artillery regiment in Hungary , according to his official biography, or in the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) as former Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov claimed in a 2006 TV interview.[8]

After his military training Surkov was accepted to Moscow Institute of Culture for a five-year program in theater direction, but spent only three years there. Surkov graduated from Moscow International University with a master's degree in economics long after that in the late 1990s.

Business career[edit]

Meanwhile, in the late 1980s he started as a businessman as the government lifted the ban against private businesses. He became a head of the advertisement department of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's businesses. During the 1990s he held key managerial positions in advertisement and PR departments of Khodorkovsky's Bank Menatep (1991 – April 1996) and Rosprom (March 1996 – February 1997) and Fridman's Alfa-Bank (since February 1997).

In September 2004 Surkov was elected president of the board of directors of the oil products transportation company Transnefteproduct, but was instructed by Russia's PM Mikhail Fradkov to give up the position in February 2006.

Political career[edit]

After a brief career as a director for public relations on the Russian television ORT channel (1998–1999) he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the President of the Russian Federation in 1999. In March 2004, Surkov was appointed an aide to the president, retaining the official title of Deputy Chief of Staff. He is seen as the "Grey Cardinal", a behind the scenes actor with much influence, the same as Mikhail Suslov. He is also allegedly the main supporter of Ramzan Kadyrov in Putin's entourage.

Surkov is widely considered to have inspired creation of some youth pro-government political movements, including Nashi. He met with their leaders and participants several times and gave them lectures on the political situation.[9][10]

Surkov has been characterized as the engineer of 'a system of make-believe', 'a land of imitation political parties, stage-managed media and fake social movements'.[11] British film maker Adam Curtis has said that in this way he has imported ideas from the avant-garde art world into politics in order to undermine people's perception of the world, to make politics a piece of theatre, and create confusion.[12][13]

He advocates the political doctrine he calls sovereign democracy, a controversial attempt to counter democracy promotion conducted by USA and European states.[14] While some Western media may see the attempt as controversial, this view is not generally shared by Russian media and Russian political elite.[15] Surkov himself sees this concept as a national version of the common political language that is going to be used when Russia is talking to the outside world.[15]

Being the most influential ideologist of "sovereign democracy", Surkov went public with two programme speeches, "Sovereignty is a Political Synonym of Competitiveness"[16] and "Our Russian Model of Democracy is Titled Sovereign Democracy".[17]

On 8 February 2007, the Moscow State University marked the 125th anniversary of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday with high-level conference "Lessons of the New Deal for Modern Russia and the World" attended, among others, by Surkov and Gleb Pavlovsky. There Surkov drew an explicit parallel between the U.S. president and Russian president Putin, praising the legacy of Roosevelt's New Deal, and between the US of the 1930s and present-day Russia. Pavlovsky called on Putin to follow Roosevelt in staying for the third presidential term.[18][19][20]

Although President Dmitry Medvedev repeatedly stressed the need for Russia to open up and modernise its political system Surkov warned in October 2009 that that could result in more instability and that more instability "could rip Russia apart".

In September 2011, Mikhail Prokhorov quit the party Right Cause, which he had led for five months. He condemned the party as a puppet of the Kremlin and named the "'puppet master' in the president's office" as Surkov, according to a report in The New York Times.[21] Prokhorov hoped that Surkov would be fired from service from the Kremlin, although his own political career would be at an end. Sources from within the Kremlin tell that Surkov would not disappear from the political stage.[22]

In a profile of Surkov, Reuters described him as the Kremlin's 'shadowy chief political strategist' and reported that he was one of the most powerful men in the Kremlin and considered a close ally of then-Prime Minister Putin.[23]

On 28 December 2011, it was announced that Medvedev had reassigned Surkov to the role of "Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Modernisation" in a move interpreted by many to be fallout from the controversial Russian parliamentary elections of 2011.[24]

After his reassignment, Surkov described his past career as follows:[25] 'I was among those who helped Boris Yeltsin to secure a peaceful transfer of power; among those who helped President Putin stabilize the political system; among those who helped President Medvedev liberalize it. All the teams were great.'

Having been regarded as the Kremlin's "grey cardinal" [26] during Putin's first two terms as president and crafted Russia's system of "managed democracy", and directed its propaganda, principally through control of state run television, he became marginalized for a time as Putin 'pursued a path of open repression over the cunning manipulation favoured by Surkov.'[27]

On 17 March 2014, the next day after the Crimean status referendum, Surkov became one of the first seven persons who were put by President Obama under executive sanctions. The sanctions freeze his assets in the US and ban him from entering the United States.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Surkov married a second time in a civil ceremony in 1998 to Natalya Dubovitskaya, a former employee of Menatep bank.[8][29]

In June 2005 it became public for the first time after an interview with him was published in the German Der Spiegel magazine[30] that his father was an ethnic Chechen and he spent the first five years of his life in Chechnya in Duba-yurt and Grozny.[13] Follow-up articles published in Russian newspapers[31] said that his father's name was Andarbek Dudayev and Surkov's birth name was Aslambek Dudayev. He was born in Shali. After his parents separated, his mother moved to Lipetsk and changed his name to the Russified version—Vladislav Surkov. His official biography still lists Surkov as name and Solntsevo village of Lipetsk province as birthplace.

Surkov wrote the preface to the 2009 pseudonymous bestselling satirical novel Almost Zero. The author was "Natan Dubovitsky", readable as a male form of his wife's name. Conflicting statements in the preface added to speculation that Surkov was the author of the novel.[13] Proceeding on that assumption, The Economist said the novel "expos[ed] the vices of the system he himself had created".[32] A successful stage adaptation of the novel (sometimes translated as Nearby Zero[33]) has been presented by Kirill Serebrennikov.[13]

He has been engaged in song composition[13] and is the author of some recent texts of the Russian rock musician Vadim Samoylov. He speaks English[citation needed] and is fond of poets such as Allen Ginsberg of the Beat Generation.[23]

Honours and awards[edit]

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Russian Wikipedia.
  • Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 3rd class (13 November 2003) – for outstanding contribution to strengthening Russian statehood and many years of diligent work
  • Gratitude of the President of the Russian Federation (18 January 2010, 12 June 2004 and 8 July 2003) – for active participation in the preparation of the President's address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation
  • Medal of PA Stolypin, 2nd class (21 September 2011)
  • Diploma of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation (2 April 2008) – for active support and substantial assistance in organizing and conducting the elections of the President of the Russian Federation
  • State Councillor of the Russian Federation, 1st class


  1. ^ "Беспартийный идеолог Владислав Сурков". Gazeta. 16 May 2007. Retrieved 1 April 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "5 Facts About Vladislav Surkov". The Moscow Times. 13 May 2013.
  3. ^ Vladislav Surkov has been appointed Deputy Prime Minister
  4. ^ Radio Free Europe: Russian President Accepts Resignation Of Deputy PM Surkov
  5. ^ Ukraine accuses Russia over Maidan 2014 killings by BBC News
  6. ^ Putin's aide Surkov pulled the strings as snipers shot at Maidan protesters – Ukraine's SBU. According to SBU director Nalyvaichenko, they have identified some of the shooters and "as part of this case we have job titles, last names, copies of passports, dates of their entry and departure, their telephone providers and places of accomodation, [we know] how president Putin's adviser Surkov was coordinating their actions in Kyiv,"
  7. ^ Kiev’s allegations that Surkov was behind Maidan developments in 2014 absurd — ForMin, by tass.ru
  8. ^ a b [1]
  9. ^ [2]
  10. ^ [3]
  11. ^ the economist ideologuesexit
  12. ^ Charlie Brookers Screen Wipe, surkov
  13. ^ a b c d e Pomerantsev, Peter, 'Putin's Rasputin,' London Review of Books, 33 (20), 20 October 2011, pp. 3–6.
  14. ^ [4]
  15. ^ a b On Wednesday Political Elite Agreed to Speak Common Language, «Izvestia», 31 August 2006
  16. ^ Sovereignty is a Political Synonym of Competitiveness, Vladislav Surkov, public appearance, 7 February 2006
  17. ^ Our Russian Model of Democracy is Titled «Sovereign Democracy», Vladislav Surkov, briefing, 28 June 2006
  18. ^ Владимир Владимирович Рузвельт/ Putin Asked to Follow FDR's Example, Kommersant, 9 February 2007.
  19. ^ Kremlin Official Compares Putin to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Moscow News, 9 February 2007.
  20. ^ Roosevelt Russia's ideological ally – Putin aide, RIA Novosti, 8 February 2007.
  21. ^ Kramer, Andrew E., and Ellen Barry, "Amid Political Rancor, Russian Party Leader Quits",The New York Times, 15 September 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  22. ^ Volkskrant 16-9-2011
  23. ^ a b Faulconbridge, Guy "Kremlin "puppet master" faces errant oligarch", Reuters, 16 September 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2011.
  24. ^ "Putin ejects Kremlin 'puppet master' after protests", Associated Press via The Guardian, 27 December 2011.
  25. ^ The gray cardinal leaves the Kremlin, Russia Beyond the Headlines, 28 December 2011.
  26. ^ thedailybeast 19 March 2014, mastermind behind putins power play
  27. ^ The Guardian, May 8, 2013 Vladimir putin cardinal
  28. ^ Logiurato, Brett (17 March 2014). "Obama Just Announced Sanctions Against 7 Russian 'Cronies'". Business Insider. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  29. ^ http://www.anticompromat.ru/surkov/surkbio.html
  30. ^ Uwe Von Klußmann, Walter Mayr, 'Der Westen muss uns nicht lieben,', in Der Spiegel, 20 June 2005; 'Владислав Сурков: "Запад не обязан нас любить",' in Inopressa Newsagency, 20 June 2005.
  31. ^ http://www.vokruginfo.ru/news/news14072.html
  32. ^ "The long life of Homo sovieticus", The Economist, 10 December 2011 (issue date). Retrieved 8 December 2011.
  33. ^ Program, The 10th Chekhov International Theatre Festival (CITF), 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2011.

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