Kasyanov Speaks

Reuters reports that former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is warning that Russia stands on the brink of collapse:

Russia could face economic chaos and even revolution unless the government acts swiftly to reform and relax political restrictions, former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said on Thursday. Kasyanov, who now leads an opposition party, told a seminar in Brussels that by the end of this year inflation could reach 15 percent, toxic loans could rise to 30 percent of all loans and unemployment could reach 10 million. The government may also have to seek help from the International Monetary Fund “in the near future,” he said.

Kasyanov, leader ,of the People’s Democratic Union, predicted Russia’s reserves would be swiftly swallowed up financing an increasing budget deficit and the government would soon face problems financing military and police pensions. “It will happen in reality in a period of one year, but if the financial crisis races, it will be in a shorter period,” he told Liberal Democrat politicians in the European Parliament in a speech delivered in English. “This scenario would lead to social crisis,” he said. “We are against any revolutions, but this situation, this policy would lead Russia to such a development as revolution.”

Kasyanov said Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin had already started talking about the possibility of raising money on the international capital markets by the end of this year. “I believe it will be very difficult to raise money internationally on the capital markets…and an approach to the International Monetary Fund would be a case, although not today, but in the near future,” he said. Kasyanov called on the government to implement reforms and relax political restrictions so people felt they were “part of the country.” He said he was not optimistic it would do so. “There are some signs that the authorities have chosen a second way, coming to disaster,” he said. “This could be very soon…as little as a year ahead of us, because of the simple reason that all resources will disappear.”

Russia’s $1.7 trillion economy, which is highly dependent on oil, is facing its worst crisis after a decade of rapid growth and is heading into recession. More than 1 million people have lost jobs since the start of December and unemployment is at a five-year high. The government has forecast the economy will shrink by 2.2 percent this year but says growth might start as late as in 2011, the year when higher social tax levies kicks in. But Kudrin, the finance minister, said on Wednesday Russia should not expect a return of the favorable conditions it has enjoyed in the recent years for “five, 10, 20 or 50 years.”

Management of the economic crisis has put the relationship between President Dmitry Medvedev and his mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, under scrutiny by Kremlin watchers and investors after speculation they could be drifting apart.

11 responses to “Kasyanov Speaks

  1. With Putin’s policies becoming an overt public failure, I would not be surprised to learn that some members of the Russian Government and powerful people affiliated with it are urging Putin to take an early leave, compensated of course.

    When the source of the trouble is the head, you get rid of the head.

    Gary Marshall

  2. Dear Gary Marshall,…YOU DREAMER, YOU! Well, I hope to God you are right, but in Russian practice, when the head is the cause of the trouble, then…..that head…usually brutally gets rid of those who could get rid of him, …before…they can dump him. Poison in his vodka, usually does the final-trick. Let’s hope Putler soonishly takes a nice ride in an excellent high quality (?) Aeroflot plane, and…..crashes into some scenic landscape. Perhaps, in Venezuela?

  3. psalomschik,
    I am with Gary on that. There are a lot of signs that the food fight under the rug is quite atrocious.

    It is even more telling that there are plenty of “putlerites” whose strongest argument is “don’t rock the boat; it would be much worse and much more anarchy if Putin leaves”. Needless to say that such arguments (will be worse) never had any sway in Russia.

    Last, the common belief is that the fight is between “blood party” and “moolah party”. While moolah was plentiful, it was easy to pay off the troublemakers. Only the most stubborn (Politkovskaya) or the richest (Khodorkovsky) couldn’t be bought and required some bloodletting. But with the crisis in town paying off may be too expensive. Therefore, the blood party is getting stronger. So, the burning question is not whether Putin leaves (the consensus is he will leave in 2010), not even whether he leaves Yeltsin way (retirement) or Ceauşescu way – but whether the next ruling party will prefer blood or moolah!

    As they say there – no, there is no third option…

  4. Khristos Voskrese! today, for Orthodox Easter.
    To both Gary Marshall and Felix, Oh yes! no doubt you are essentially correct, unfortunately.
    It is truly unfortunate, that simply the surgical removal of one despot, V. Putin, will not solve all that’s wrong with the rotten SYSTEM and with the whole culture of gangsterism which is currently running/ruining Russia….running it into the sewer and dump heap. Those in power there are robbing Russia and all common people …of all ethnicities, of their ‘Russian Federation:….blind!
    Putler by himself, is afterall, only one miserable and pathetic and odious tyrant, the top of the iceberg,…as Hilter was, and Stalin, and….etc.
    Because, even with a change of leadership at the top, still the masses of continually-apathetic/dis-spirited/self-loathing Russian people, will not/indeed CANNOT get organized and rise up to overthrow these KGB devils who are ruining their country and their lives, and who are making sure that Russia has no positive or good future on this planet. Most will just do as they do now: get and stay…drunk on rot-gut vodka.! Well, this general-uprising cannot happen…..all over Russia, but….I do see how it may happen…or rather…start… in those specific most-suffering regions and by those totally disgusted/extremely fed-up…Russians and angry non-Russians, who finally have nothing to loose anymore. Foreign intervention MIGHT also come into play, as from China! The Kremlin…may…loose control of areas, even within the next few years. LET’S HOPE SO! ….except that that calamity, COULD trigger their nuclear missiles to be fired at, us! But, I still would wish, that V. Putin, soonish, takes a nice ride on a safe (?) Aeroflot plane, with his friend Chavez sitting next to him, (and also, yes, with his whole upper echelon of his government) ….into…. a scenic Venezualian mountain!…or one in Ukraine?…how’s about the Urals?…or…so what’s wrong with crashing into a swamp in Upper/or Lower Slabovia?…or what about Mt. Fugiyama?…or……….wherever…..
    To those in Russia who are Orthodox and who can’t stand Putler,
    as today is Orthodox Easter (Pascha):, I greet you:
    Christ Is Risen! Khristos Voskrese!

  5. Christi ardzdga! Cheshmaridat ardzdga!! (Christ is RISEN! Truly he is RISEN!!) to you to Reader Daniel, and to all the true orthodox who oppose the Russian KGB church.

  6. Even if Putler steps down, moves aside, or disappears. I doubt the new regime would be any better, maybe even worse for the average Russian. Just a new bunch of mafia/KGB criminals. Or is there a chance the military could get into the picture? A lot of disgruntled officers out there. The military gets talk of new equipment and training, but it never seems to reach the troops. Either way, Russia won’t be much better off. The revolution has to come from the bottom, but that’s not likely.

    • Unfortunately Lebed had a helicopter crash in 2001 (maybe even sort of “accident” mentioned earlier in the comments).

      The rest of generals are mostly swine (with exceptions, like Aushev).

  7. There is an old Arabic adage: when you have a problem which is easier, changing the shepherd or changing the sheep?

    The Kremlin pigs-at-the-trough will deep six Putin if it enhances their survival as this crisis rolls along. Of that, I have no doubt.

    Kasyanov is far too opimistic regarding a coming revolution. The Russian sheep(le) will most likely as Yulia Latynina pointed out keep their heads down and and swill more vodka to get through the crisis. The option of a sheep uprising bringing sweeping democratic change to Russia isn’t realistic.

  8. Absolutely agree with Penny.

  9. The question, however, who is the sheep in this story? For the pigs-at-the-trough (penny never seizes to crack us up!) the food fight itself is death!

    First, it gives the jackals that are far from the trough the green light to attack.

    And it gives the sheep (people) to restore the order where their voice is actually heard. Pollsters estimate that today only 5-10 per cent of people espouse liberal values (“liberal” in traditional sense of course, not in Zhirinovsky or Kennedy sense). In the times of turmoil (most recently, perestroika and early 90s) this number goes up to 20-25 per cent.

    Last, the mob of unkneeling russians may realize that nobody gives a $..t about them. It often leads to riots.

    All this may cause (and is likely to cause) significant disruption in “financial flows”. None of the pigs (as in Orwell’s Animal Farm pigs) want that to happen. So, I believe they will try to make the changes under the rug.

  10. Felix, I read an opinion somewhere that the tipping point percentage of a populace needed to rise up and effectively create change was somewhere in the neighborhood of 40%. Russia doesn’t have those numbers. Their intelligencia have been mostly feckless, useless and prosperity parasites coasting along with their mouths nailed shut with Putin. It’s been noted how apolitical Russian young people are. Ivan Sixpack’s anger will be cancelled out by the pensioned babushkas that flip between Stalin and Putin icons and are easily appeased with rent/utlities/food subsidies. You can count on them to almost always make a poor choice based on the short sighted willful ignorance of their generation.

    I’m sure it’s worthy of a thick thriller novel as to what is going on in the Kremlin and the next tier down pigs as they plot to keep their spoils.

    One predictor I think of who’s won/lost will be the Khodorkovsky verdict coming up in a few months.

    Russia is like the Mafia is at their most dangerous as they lose their grip. Doing deals with Iran and Chavez, beating up the neighbors, they don’t even have the discipline to be good as gangsters.

    What a miserable country.

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