Wed Dec 28th, 2005 at 03:52:57 PM EST
It is in the nature of human beings that parents care about their children. Soviet communist leaders were not an exception. Having no wealth to pass on to the offspring, they found a different way to protect their future.
Here, I should probably explain some peculiarities of the life in the former Soviet Union. Basically, the cornerstone of the political system was the absolute ban on private property. That ensured people's dependence on the state-controlled economy, and therefore, their loyalty. Since salary based incomes were ridiculously low, even for top-ranked party and government officials, it was virtually impossible to accumulate wealth, sufficient to do without some kind of regular pay after quitting or loosing the job, let alone keep the lifestyle. Most of what the Soviet nomenclatura had came as perks, for instance, a car service, guarded apartments in best areas, summer houses, special resorts, hospitals, stores, etc. Soviet officials were entitled to these privileges while in office, and allowed to keep some on retirement. To complete the picture, I just need to add that emigration was almost non-existent. Obtaining a permit to leave the USSR was highly unlikely.
So, children of the soviet ruling elite were encouraged to pursue their career in areas providing higher than average income, or opportunities for frequent trips abroad. Some of them went to military (Vasily Stalin), got an advanced science degree (Sergei Khrushchev, Anatoly Gromyko), or were appointed to top positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or Foreign Trade (Yuri Brezhnev).
It is all different now. A bunch of "emerging market economies" sprang into existence out of the wreck of the USSR. Political leaders of the new independent nations quickly learned that "power is money", literally. Wild privatization of state assets in the absence of any real legal regulations, together with high demand for a wide range of consumer goods and services, gave the executive branch of power ultimate influence over economy. No wonder that favoritism and corruption became very common in the new independent nations. Children of top government officials are a hot commodity today. Businesses compete to get them aboard.
We also witness a completely new phenomenon appearing east of Moscow, when children of rulers become first in the line of succession to the Office of President. It has already occurred in Azerbaijan, where Ilham Aliev took over the reigns from his father Geidar Aliev, who was the country's last communist leader. It is widely expected to happen in Kazakhstan too. Also worth mentioning: Mr Niyazov of Turkmenistan has two children...