Mr. Medvedev, his Carpet and his Broom
See Dima sweep. Sweep, Dima, Sweep! Under the carpet! Sweep, sweep, sweep!
Streetwise Professor reports that last week Russian “president” Dima Medvedev announced a massive new slate of spending reductions forced upon his government by the national economic collapse. Paul Goble reports that among these will be a brutal slashing of the budget for the 2010 census.
Let’s overlook the fact that the Putin regime is apparently still able to find plenty of funds for nuclear weapons and other ways of provoking and escalating the new cold war, sending all sorts of wealth to all sorts of places from Venezuela to Syria. Let’s not focus on what these draconian cutbacks mean for the people of Russia. Let’s instead watch Dima feverishly trying to sweep it all under the carpet.
Because, as SWP points out, no sooner had Medvedev acknowledged the need for massive cuts (SWP even praised Medvedev for his candor) than he was lashing out at Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin with ridiculous, propagandistic lies. Medvedev accused Kudrin of saying that Russia would need 50 years to recover from its current economic plight, and said anyone who thinks so “should go work someplace else.” Kudrin never said any such thing. He merely said that the recovery would take a long time, and that the government would have to follow the correct economic policies no matter how long it required, even if it took 50 years.
That’s beside the point, though. Because Medvedev’s effort to scapegoat Kudrin, to silence him, is fully consistent with Medvedev’s support for creating a “Ministry of Truth” that will decree Russian history to achieve political ends. It’s fully consistent with a mentality resulting from being born and raised in the USSR, as Putin was, and with a man who collaborates with a proud KGB spy, as Medvedev does.
In other words, the only response Medvedev and his ilk can make to inconenient facts is to hide them, even if that means killing those who would speak them. It’s the same response the USSR always had, and the resulting lack of reform is what destroyed the USSR, just as it is surely destroying Putin’s Russia.
The fact that Russia can’t even pay to conduct a proper census is telling, and Medvedev won’t talk about it. Goble writes that the draconian 30% cutbacks “will mean officials and scholars will have significantly less data on a range of demographic questions.” And he points out that, in fact, the Kremlin has no interest in accurate picture being painted of a country in crisis. He notes: “Among the questions which will be dropped will be those concerning the branch of economic activity in which the individual surveyed works. Many find it difficult to specify that, she continued, and consequently, her committee will do without this sampling, relying instead on other sources for this information. The 2010 census now appears likely to collect far less information about many sensitive issues – including the relative size of the populations of different regions on the basis of which funds are allocated and the even more sensitive issue of the size of Russia’s various national groups – than many had hoped.”
Russia is slipping into darkness. The worse things get, the less information the Kremlin will release, and the more information that is released will consist of shameless lies and propaganda, just as in Soviet times.
Russia cannot survive this abuse of the truth any more than the USSR could.