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High-level political purges are gathering pace in Russia. The latest evidence came in late March, with the arrests of Mikhail Abyzov, a former minister for open government affairs, and two days later Viktor Ishayev, a former Far East minister and ex-governor of Russia's Khabarovsk region. Whether or not the state was involved in ordering Nemtsov's murder, the recent arrests of Abyzov and Ishayev have shattered these assumptions. They signal that Putin's purge now extends to former members of the federal government who have appeared in numerous official photographs alongside Putin, premier Dmitry Medvedev, and other members of Russia's ruling class.At first glance, these latest arrests would seem to discredit the authorities. These days, suspects are arrested immediately, especially if Putin is entirely unconcerned about them.For Putin, reminding Russia's elites that no one is untouchable is the best way to keep them on their toes. Purges played nearly the same role under Stalin.Similarly, Putin prefers to have new technocrats in ministerial and gubernatorial positions.
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