Nemtsov puts Putin on the Spit

Boris Nemstov pulls no punches, writing on and translated by Robert Amsterdam. How long he’ll be allowed to do so is anybody’s guess.

The crisis has shown the complete incompetency and weakness of the state built by Putin. The main feature of “putinism” – an inability to adapt to new conditions, external threats, crises. Under the leadership of Putin, Russia has lost immunity to the crisis, and has experienced a significantly greater hit than all the other countries that have caught the virus.

Therefore, the main anti-crisis measure – this is the resignation of Putin and his government, as the architects of an incompetent, weak state. Without this decision, citizens are going to writhe convulsively, observing how the national leader conducts experiments on the country.

In the conditions of the crisis, all the countries of the world have one and the same problem – an intensification of the role of the state. If a state is strong, then all decisions that are adopted by the state reach the addressees. If a state is weak – the money is pilfered en route. This is putinite Russia. We have a state that has huge money and that talks about trying to save the economy from crisis. Into this state, like into a black box, officials throw huge sums of money – 200 bln dollars have already disappeared there. But they do not get to either the citizens or to enterprises.

It turned out that the Russia that is getting back up on its feet, the one that sends ships to Venezuela, and planes – to inspect the space around Europe, is going through a crises significantly heavier than that of many other countries. The deficit of the Russian budget in December to the year 2008 attained 20% of GDP. Such a deficit existed at the moment of the breakup of the USSR. Both then and now, Russia entered into the new year without a budget. Budget-2009, calculated proceeding from a price for oil of 95 dollars per barrel and adopted without a hitch by the pseudoparliament, is not the main financial document of the country. It is tragicomic that the budget was adopted in October, when oil was already costing 62 dollars per barrel.

The prime-minister adopted important “anti-crisis” decisions, about which he is now ashamed to speak: he established the level for unemployment compensation at 4900 rubles and raised the tariffs for the services of natural monopolies (during the course of the year 2009, the price for gas will rise by 27.5%, for electricity by 25%, for railroad shipments – by 20%). It was none other than the premier who adopted decisions on the supporting of an unrealistic exchange rate for the ruble, which cost Russia 200 bln dollars, the asocial decision on raising the payroll tax – the unified social tax (ESN). Such decision in any country entail a prompt resignation.

Furthermore, it was decided to help oligarchic groups. There is especial cynicism in that the help to them is rendered from the National Welfare Fund. This is a sacred fund, its funds can be spent exclusively on payments of pensions – but they were handed out to the famous oligarch-bankruptee Deripaska (4.5 bln dollars, with his debts of 30 bln dollars and assets that are clearly not enough to cover the debts) and Putin’s closest friends, Sechin and Bogdanchikov, for the support of the biggest Russian oil company “Rosneft”. Furthermore, it is being planned (or maybe it has already been secretly carried out by VEB) to allocate money to Abramovich – to his company “Evraz” – in an amount of 1.8 bln dollars, as well as to his partner-in-business Chemezov, who is hoping to get 7 bln dollars. There are several articles in this regard in the Criminal Code: exceeding official authority with the causing of grave consequences (art. 286, para 3; punishment – deprivation of liberty for a term of from three to ten years with the loss of the right to occupy certain posts or to engage in certain activity for a term of up to three years) and use of extrabudgetary funds not as intended (art. 285).

Yet another criminal decision – to allocate 175 bln rubles for the support of the stock market of Russia (this money was allocated by VEB, where Putin is the chairman of the board of trustees). The stock market of Russia collapsed after this by 75-80% – more than the other stock markets of the world. And the blue chips, at which this support ought to have been directed, lost even more value the shares of Sberbank – minus 85%. In any democratic country, the giving out of money with an incomprehensible method of expenditure and with a result in the form of the crashing of the shares of state companies – this is a subject of criminal prosecution.

We have ourselves a situation in which huge money – 200 bln dollars – has been allocated, but they did not get to the economy; the economy, including industry, are falling. An indicator of the state of the Russian economy – the drop in railroad shipments: since the start of the year, they have fallen by 36%. It is obvious that the reserves that exist in the country are going to be frittered away completely during the course of the year 2009 and the country will enter into a default regime already towards the end of this year.

For the growth in poverty, inflation, for unemployment – which, according to the assessments of Yevgeny Gontmakher, as of the end of the year will comprise 10 mln persons – for the disappearance into the black hole of a corrupt state of 200 bln dollars, for the support of the oligarchs out of the funds of the National Welfare Fund (which can be spent only on pensioners), two people are responsible – Medvedev and Putin. Russians don’t know anybody else. From this, two scenarios:

1. It’s Medvedev’s fault – “he wasn’t able to keep a hold on the country”. This is the scenario of dictatorship, under which even crueller laws are adopted, inflaming of spy-mania becomes the main occupation of the state, to doubt aloud is forbidden, monopolization of power, money, property becomes absolute, as does the dependence of each individual citizen on the state.

2. “Perestroika-2” – Medvedev sends Putin into retirement. The architect of all the calamitous decisions, both political and economic, is declared to be a person with the surname of Putin. Medvedev had nothing to do with any of it. His role – to sign an ukase on the dismissal of Putin. All that is needed is to find a typist who will print up the ukase. Knowing the human and political qualities of our elite, one can assume that everybody will react to such a turn of events with joy and will instantaneously swear allegiance to Medvedev. It will become clear that “Solidarity” – are far from the most die-hard of oppositioneers.

The next step for the president in this scenario – the founding of a technical government. After this, parliamentary elections are announced. Naturally, the repressive electoral legislation and censorship need to be repealed.

This is the only workable scenario for getting out of the crisis. And, by the way, absolutely constitutional.

10 responses to “Nemtsov puts Putin on the Spit

  1. Perestroika 2? Sounds more like what Brezhnev did to Krushchev. Not that it is not a good idea. It just doesn’t seem all that probable. More like a fantasy.

  2. Medvedev is Putin’s lap dog who will never try to unseat him. Even if he does, Putin’s “United Russia” has enough votes in the Duma to impeach him on the spot. And all the “siloviki” (the military, FSB, etc.) support Putin. Mr. Nemtsov is peddling pipe dreams.

  3. Kaktuss,

    Let me respectfully disagree. Just like in mafia, there is no concept of lap dog in Russian power structure. Remember, Putin was the “lap dog” of Yeltsin and Berezovsky, wasn’t he?

    And the support of siloviki is as firm as “yesteryear snow”, to borrow the Russian expression. United Russia in parliament needs a fall guy as much as anybody else. Putin offers an excellent opportunity.

    “Unkneeling Russian” and the rest of nashi will change the tune in less than a day. Not that anybody cares what they are saying in the first place – everybody expects them to lick the boots of the power, anyway.

    I am not saying it’ll happen. I am saying it’s far from pipe dream! Russia throughout it’s recent history required a bogeyman – Trotsky, Beria, Khruschev, Brezhnev, Gaidar, Yeltsin. Putin can easily join this glorious group.

    Now, pardon me as I gloat to be the first one to alert LR to this brilliant article.

  4. I love the “Putler” signs I’m seeing displayed at varous protests. Guve these Russians medals; they’re their country’s genuine patriots…

  5. Felix, I tend to agree with you. Putin doesn’t have the one person power status that Stalin had where he can make dissenting politburo members or high ranking military officers disappear at will. The Kremlin is structured more like a group of mafia dons whose cooperation with the Godfather could turn on a dime. They’ll chose another one if he disrupts their business enterprises.

    I dispair looking at the election results in Venezuela this morning, even with the given cheating Chavez still holds popular support. We are witnessing the return of fascism just like the 1930’s on a global scale.

    And, I wouldn’t get too complacent, fellow Americans, the Democrats are pushing to return the Fairness Doctrine as a vehicle to muzzle the conservative airwaves. That Obama is attempting to remove the Census from the Commerce Dept. is a pure play in stacking the decks in favor of Democrat gaming the results which has far reaching consequences.

  6. Felix and penny, I am not saying that Putin is invincible. Under certain circumstances, he may be forced out in one way or the other. But I wouldn’t count on Medvedev in this respect. His portrayal as some kind of vaguely “liberal” alternative to Putin is Putin’s propaganda ploy. Kinda like the bad cop – good cop thing.

  7. At some point if this crisis provokes the Russians to take it loudly to the streets I think the siloviki will do a quick vote on whose public face among them will get them through it.

    The problem in Russia is that there is no viable opposition. They are so small, so fragmented, underfunded and frozen from the airwaves that they don’t matter.

    Democracy isn’t coming to Russia
    any time soon if ever. I think we are all making a mistake thinking that this crisis could be a catalyst for fundamental change.

    I’m more worried about the economically challenged of which we have so many here eciding that capitalism is dead here is the US.

  8. Penny, in a worst case scenario, people hoard food.

    It is a very good idea to splurge on items with a long shelf life. Hopefully it is not necessary, however it is our only option at this point. If you look at the history of exalted dunces, the “People” are not the beneficiaries.

    Excessive inflation will lead to savings and incomes being erased. Taxes will keep you from achieving your potential.

    Our children were not the only ones robbed by this election. If you have ever had a boss that is not as smart as you, and he/she tells you to do something WHILE you are doing it, you know how I feel.

  9. Capitalism will reemerge, hopefully it will not be in the Russian form.

    Mafia influence is the same as government influence. You say socialism, I say fascism, how do we solve this?

  10. Kaktuss,
    I think you and I mostly agree – my little nitpicking notwithstanding :) I never said that Medvedev is liberal alternative to Putin… didn’t I use the word “mafia” in my post!

    However, all positive changes in Russia were started from the top: Alexandr I, Khruschev, Gorbachev. Last week Medvedev dismissed four regional governors, including the long-serving governor of Orel. He also replaced the disastrous president of Ingushetia, replacing him with much more sane general.

    Also, there is no viable opposition. I have cynical view of “mass demonstrations” in Far East and Dagestan – they conveniently matched pretty powerful local interests.

    Russian rulers traditionally thought that not having opposition is good. However, it leads to Russian riots – “bloody and senseless” (Pushkin). Unlike the rulers, Russian strongmen understand it quite well. So, they may prefer “controlled reform” from above, rather than anarchist-driven change by the masses.

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