An editorial (staff translation, corrections welcome) from Oleg Kozlovsky’s Oborona opposition group on the Russian stock market collapse:
However, it would be wrong to place all the blame for the collapse of the Russian stock markets on global trends. Vladimir Putin and his ministers for many years have tried to convince us that the Russian economy is reliably protected from such crises. They have bragged about their budget surplus, near absence of public debit, their large stabilization fund and their secured ruble reserves. Even on October 6th, when the stock market shook the country at its foundations, state television continued to reassure citizens that our economy is significantly more robust than any other major nation.
The striking depreciation of the shares of our domestic companies reflects the fact that property rights in contemporary Russia have never been established, and any interest in property can be wiped out with the stroke of a pen. In the face of constant threats from fire, tax inspectors and various “experts” the buyers of shares cannot think of seeking long-term investments, and therefore seek only quick profits from speculation. The Putin years have led us nowhere.
The current crisis is serious and will affect almost all sectors of the economy. In these circumstances, the normal person should behave with caution. The first course of action is to repay existing debts and create no new ones. Next, reduce expenses and exercise care when placing funds in banks. It is important to bear in mind that the labor market may experience massive layoffs and declining wages. It will become more difficult to obtain consumer and mortgage loans. Inflation may accelerate rapidly, though housing costs may drop if the market lacks resources to pay current prices.
Putin’s government has demonstrated its inability to cope with the problems of the country’s economy and should leave power. Its replacements must appreciate the need to take immediate and effective measures to protect Russian citizens and domestic business from the effects of the financial crisis. A continuation of the same reckless policies of recent years would amount to threatening our country with the most dangerous consequences imaginable.