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VIP Parade 2003
The Best in Their Profession
Who Russians Consider the Elite
Mar. 11, 2004
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VIP Parade 2003
// Elite
By tradition, in the last issue of the year, we publish a rating of the Russian elite based on a public opinion poll conducted by VTsIOM at Kommersant's request. We present the winners of the third VIP parade.
Putin is Now the Elitest of the Elite

Vasily Shaposhnikov, Sergei Mikheev, Dmitry Lebedev, Yuri Martyanov, Dmitry Azarov, Dmitry Dukhanin, Pavel Smertin
On the photo (From left to right, top-down): Georgy Yartsev, Anastasia Volochkova, Boris Gryzlov, Vagit Alekperov, Nikolai Rastorguev, Sergei Glazev, Sergei Shoigu, Valentina Matvienko, Vladimir Zhirinovsky
There was no change in the first line of the rating. As in our VIP reviews for 2002 and 2001, the leader of our country, Vladimir Putin, led the rating. His personal rating has actually increased year by year. This time, 74.9% of respondents included the President on the list of ten most elite Russians versus 68.9% a year ago.

The second-place winner was also the same as last year: Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu. The gap between first and second place was about 50% of the vote, only a slight change from the previous year. A total of 25.5% of respondents voted to rank Mr. Shoigu among the elite. It is interesting to note that Sergei Shoigu owes his second-place standing mainly to male respondents, who named him as one of the elite 2.5 times more frequently than female respondents.

The third-place winner is new. Not entirely new, but he was only in sixth place in the last two ratings of the elite. He is Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the country's third most popular political party. In contrast to the parliamentary elections in December 2003, in the elite elections he beat his old rival, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who ended up in fourth place behind Zhirinovsky by a margin of 0.2% of the vote.

We should note that overall, the parliamentary elections had a noticeable effect on the present rating. People were preoccupied with politics and first of all gave the names of politicians, and only then remembered other areas of life. As a result Alla Pugacheva, who was second only to Vladimir Putin in popularity in 2001, and behind only Putin and Sergei Shoigu in 2002, dropped to seventh place in the present rating, unusually low for her. Besides the two people already named, the country's favorite singer was even behind liberal politicians Grigory Yavlinsky and Boris Nemtsov, who failed to win a seat in the elections. Both of them easily managed to overcome not only the 5% barrier, but also the 10% and 15% barriers in the rating of the elite. Like Sergei Shoigu, Yavlinsky's success was mainly due to men. Women voted for the founder of the Yabloko Party slightly more than three times less.

A serious rival to Alla Pugacheva has appeared in the past year. The first female governor in Russia's history, Valentina Matvienko, is right behind her in the rating. Two liberals, Anatoly Chubais and Irina Khakamada, round out the top ten. Irina Khakamada, incidentally, owes her position among the elite mainly to women voters; that is, women voted for her more often than men. Two others in the top ten, Valentina Matvienko and Vladimir Putin, also owe their positions primarily to women.

Jail, Elections, and Unemployment Boost the Ratings

Yuri Martyanov
Last year Gennady Zyuganov followed Alla Pugacheva in the rating of the elite. In the new rating he yielded not only to a lady, but to Vladimir Zhirinovsky
Mikhail Khodorkovsky rose the highest in the rating over the past year. In the rating of 2002, the head of YUKOS shared 151st place with many other people, receiving only 0.5% of the vote. In 2003, the imprisoned Khodorkovsky was acknowledged as a member of the elite by 10.1% of respondents, which boosted him to 15th place.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky held the absolute record in the increase in number of votes, gaining an additional 9.6% over the year. Amusingly, the closest rival to the country's best known prisoner in this measure was former Minister of the Interior Boris Gryzlov. He rose 9.4%, and in the overall rating he was in 14th place, just ahead of Khodorkovsky (as opposed to 124th place in 2002).

Dmitry Rogozin, one of the leaders of the Homeland (Rodina) coalition, also rose sharply in the ranks. He moved from 105th place in 2002 to 21st place in the new rating, overcoming the 5% barrier although not as confidently as in the elections.

On the subject of this barrier, we note that 27 people on the list received more than 5% of the vote. Besides the people already mentioned, they include Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, comedian Maksim Galkin, singer Filipp Kirkorov, Governor of Kemerovo Region Aman Tuleev, former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Nobel Prize winner Zhores Alferov, TV host Vladimir Pozner, ballerina Anastasia Volochkova, writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, political exile Boris Berezovsky, TV host Leonid Parfenov, gymnast Alina Kabaeva, and diplomat Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Ms. Volochkova merits special attention. Being overweight, which the management of the Bolshoi Theater gave as the reason for firing her, did not prevent her from leaping from 137th place in the rating to 22nd place.

Into the Elite through Books, Football, and Resignation

Yuri Martyanov
It is not the first year that the Russians are absorbed in Darya DontsovaТs detective stories. But only now have they ranked her among the Russian elite.
There were fewer new elite names in 2003 than in 2002. In that year, about 40% of the names on the list were new, whereas there are about 20% fewer new names in the present rating.

Writer Darya Vasileva (better known as Darya Dontsova), who is in 47th place, was the most successful of the 35 newcomers. Dmitry Ayatskov, Governor of Saratov Region, and Nikolai Rastorguev, lead singer of the group Lyube, shared 49th place, slightly behind the author of the popular detective novels.

State Duma deputy Svetlana Goryacheva (67th place) was also a fairly successful newcomer.

Singer Zemfira's appearance in 70th place seems a little strange. In 2002, when her songs and videos were at the top of charts, few people ranked her among the elite; but in 2003, when Zemfira was hardly seen or heard, they changed their minds for some reason.

The four people who share 72nd place are an odd mixture. They include newcomer Georgy Yartsev, the new coach of the Russian football team; Eduard Rossel, Governor of Sverdlov Region, who was only in 137th place in 2002; and singer Aleksandr Buinov, who was in 151st place in the previous rating. This represents success for Messrs. Rossel and Buinov, but for the fourth member of the group, Gennady Seleznev [who made it into the new Duma, but the party he heads, the Russian Revival Party (Partiya vozrozhdeniya Rossii), did not], this represents a drop and then some! He was in 12th place in the previous rating. This time, he lost 10.1% of the vote, the largest drop of anyone in the rating.

Composer Igor Krutoi had a similar experience: he moved from 14th to 86th place as a result of losing 8.2% of the vote. Still, it's better to fall lower in the rating than to be eliminated from the list of elites altogether; but more on that later. Now back to our newcomers.

Aleksandr Voloshin, the former head of the presidential administration (78th place in the rating) made an unusual debut. Last year, Mr. Voloshin was a real "gray cardinal" and did not appear in the rating. It looks as if the people understood what kind of person we lost by his resignation only after he resigned.

There is one more newcomer in the first 100 who, one might say, received recognition after a long delay. This is the eminent Soviet poet Nikolai Dobronravov, who shares 99th place with four others and whose wife, composer Aleksandra Pakhmutova, has been on the rating of the elite all three years.

There are many more newcomers in the second 100 on the list; but then it's easier to get into that group. We will not dwell on them especially, since it's quite possible that within a year their names will disappear from the rating once again. Let's wait and see.

There are Exclusions from Every Rating

In the three years that we have been publishing the ratings, respondents have made the same mistakes every time.

We ask them to name only Russians who are still living, but they often mention people who have died. For this reason, we excluded actor Leonid Filatov and singer of thieves' songs Mikhail Krug from the 2003 rating.

We also ask them to name only Russian citizens; but for two years in a row, respondents tried to add Belarussian President Aleksandr Lukashenko to the list of Russian elite. This time, no one named Lukashenko, but whether it was because the question of citizenship was made clear or because the president of our sister country has lost his elite status is unknown.

Unfortunately, we also eliminated Ukrainian singer Sofiya Rotara from the list, along with two other Ukrainians, the Klichko brother boxers and showman Andrei Danilko, better known as Verka Serdyuchka. Once again, we left still another Ukrainian, pole-vaulter Sergei Bubka, off the list of Russian elites, despite the wishes of certain citizens.

People Disliked by Intellectuals and the Uneducated

In addition to those members of the elite who are favored by either men or women (we have already talked about this), it is also worth singling out people who are preferred by respondents with a certain level of education.

Someone like Grigory Yavlinsky, for example, is seen as a member of the elite mainly by people with less than a secondary education. Conversely, for some reason, the poorly educated have little liking for Alla Pugacheva and Valentina Matvienko. They also dislike Lyudmila Zykina; and as a matter of principle they are unwilling to consider television personality Svetlana Sorokina as a member of the elite. Evidently, the idea that a woman can belong to the elite goes along with a particular level of education.

These same uneducated citizens have a low regard for Vladimir Pozner and Boris Berezovsky, and do not acknowledge Vladimir Gusinsky as a member of the elite at all. However, the inference of anti-Semitism is false, because the same people are very fond of singer Iosif Kobzon.

As for respondents with higher education, they do not rate Prime Minister Kasyanov very highly and have no special liking for scientists Zhores Alferov and Sergei Kapitsa or gymnast Alina Kabaeva. And they do not support businessman Vagit Alekperov, composer Aleksandra Pakhmutova, head of the State Sports Committee Vyacheslav Fetisov, and reelected Duma deputy Gennady Raikov as members of the elite at all.

We Lost These

The list of people who appeared on the 2002 rating of elites but who failed to retain their status in 2003 is quite extensive.

This was partly due to our decision not to include anyone receiving less than 0.5% of the votes on the final rating (our cutoff point in 2002 was 0.4%). The 0.5% barrier cost 23 candidates a position in the new rating, and even fewer respondents voted for certain 2002 favorites in 2003.

The most significant loss was wrestler Aleksandr Karelin. He was in 38th place in 2002, but was off the list altogether this time.

Prominent figures in the 2002 rating were also missing from the new rating, for example, Stanislav Govorukhin (42nd in 2002), Ella Pamfilova (47th), Vladimir Dovgan (52nd), Ekaterina Andreeva (58th), Dmitry Pevtsov (70th), Leonid Roshal (75th), and Lyudmila Putina (85th), along with Ilya Glazunov, the only artist appearing in the rating.

An Elite Family: Husband, Father, and I

The Pugachev-Kirkorov-Orbakaite clan has to be recognized as Russia's most important elite family in 2003. No other family had three of its members in the rating at once. There were also a few other family pairs in the rating, for example, Sergei Mikhalkov and his son Andrei Konchalovsky (for some reason, our respondents refused to include Nikita Mikhalokov in the elite), the Soviet musical couple of Pakhmutova and Dobronravov, and husband and wife TV personalities and comedians Petrosyan and Stepanenko.

If respondents who gave the name Safin had in mind Ralif Safin, father of singer Alsu, then there is still another elite family in our rating. However, more than likely they meant tennis player Marat Safin, who is no relation to Alsu.

We note that the most elite Russian of all was left without his wife in the 2003 rating, so unfortunately, we missed out on still another potential elite family.

Aleksei Alekseev

All the Article in Russian as of Jan. 12, 2004

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