Ryzhkov on Humiliating Russian failure Across the Board

Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:

Russia’s leaders are nothing like the inflexible and single-minded Max Otto von Stirlitz, an almost James Bond-like character from the Soviet-era television miniseries “Seventeen Moments of Spring.” In fact, they are much more like Bill Murray’s tragicomic character in the movie “Groundhog Day.” Every morning they wake up in the same depressing room, drink the same vile coffee, walk out onto the same tiresome, dank street and absent-mindedly step into the same dirty puddle, filling their shoes with water. They go on to recite the same rehearsed and deeply abhorrent words to the television cameras, promising the Russian people an early and sunny spring. And the next gloomy morning, the whole thing starts all over again.

In his new article “Go Russia!” President Dmitry Medvedev acknowledges that Russia has fundamental problems that, if left unresolved, will doom it to further degradation. He describes them as being, “an inefficient economy, semi-Soviet social sphere, fragile democracy, negative demographic trends and unstable Caucasus,” along with “endemic corruption.”

But Medvedev’s patron, then-President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, named exactly the same problems as being the most fundamental ones facing Russia in his very first address to lawmakers in July 2000, shortly after he was elected president.

This is how Putin saw the situation almost 10 years ago:

• The demographic problem — Russia’s population was shrinking by an average of 750,000 people annually;

• Russia’s weak economy — “the growing gap between the advanced nations and Russia is pushing us into the group of Third World countries;”

• The need to build a strong democratic state that protects the freedom of its citizens, the business community, civil society and speech;

• Excessive state interference in business and corruption — “the state itself largely contributed to the dictatorship of the shadow economy and ‘gray schemes,’ rampant corruption and the massive outflow of capital;”

• Outdated and ineffective social policy — “today, a policy of general state paternalism is economically unfeasible and politically inexpedient;”

• The need to strengthen control of the central government over the regions, with the priority being a resolution of the Chechnya problem.  

Subsequently, all of those problems and challenges reappeared, year after year, in each successive presidential message. Every declared reform invariably failed: judicial, land, administrative, housing, public utilities, natural monopolies and others. During the “fat 2000s,” the Russian population shrank by 4.3 million people, corruption increased by a factor of 10 and the number of state employees doubled. Efforts toward democracy have stopped, with Russia stuck fast on  lists of countries that are “not free.” What’s more, the country has fallen even further behind economically. In the World Economic Forum’s index of global competitiveness, Russia dropped 12 places in 2009 to 63rd among 133 countries, behind every other member of the developing economies of Brazil, India and China. Even Turkey, Mexico and Indonesia placed higher than Russia. After a full 10 years of “getting up off our knees,” Russia remains exactly where it was — in 2001 it was No. 63 on that list, with the very same countries outpacing us. But now even more countries have passed us by, and Russia has sunk even deeper into the “Third World.” The World Economic Forum lists the same reasons for Russia’s poor economic competitiveness as it did a decade ago, putting it in 110th place for ineffective state management, 116th for the absence of legal safeguards (including judicial safeguards), 119th for the lack of protection of property rights, corruption and favoritism. What’s more, all of those problems only worsened during the past decade. Russia is having more trouble riding out the global economic crisis than other major economies, and Medvedev has acknowledged that it is the result of mistakes and omissions made in the 2000s.

Despite the fact that, overall, more money was spent on the social sphere, the situation there became qualitatively worse. Half of Russia’s working population cannot obtain access to medical services because of long waiting lists and high prices. The quality of formal education has dropped sharply, while social stratification has increased. The correlation between the size of the average pension and the average salary worsened, from 33 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2007. The differentiation between the standard of living and incomes among regions also increased. For the North Caucasus, 2009 has been a critical year, with the region reeling under the effects of daily attacks and terrorist acts — just as it did at the beginning of the decade. Worse, terror has become a way of life for thousands of young men and women in Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Over the past decade, Russia has not achieved even one of its declared goals or recovered, even partially, from even one of its underlying illnesses. In fact, most have grown even more severe.

Now, as if starting from a clean slate, Medvedev again lists the very same problems, and promises to resolve them during the new decade that begins in four months.

Meanwhile, Putin confidentially informs Western political analysts from the Valdai discussion group that he and Medvedev will jointly decide who will become the next president in 2012. He said they will decide the question amicably because they are of “one blood.” Russia’s seemingly endless Groundhog Day continues.

16 responses to “Ryzhkov on Humiliating Russian failure Across the Board

  1. The quicker Russia sinks the better. Russians who move to other countries still behave like Russians.

    • I read this joke in some popular magazine like Newsweek recently — or was it even here on LR?

      A Russian man steps up to the counter of a customs agent in some foreign country.

      “Your name?”

      “Ivan Ivanov.”

      “Nationality?”

      “Russian.”

      “Occupation?”

      “No, no, I’m just here for a visit…”

      ;)

      • What Russian “occupation”, Tomek? The only country, illegally occupying other countries today, is USA.

        I also saw this cartoon somewhere. It was about an American in Iraq.

        • Oh I don’t know Phobophobe, Russia illegally occupies 2 regions of Georgia (in an imperialist occupation one might add), regions which are recognised as part of Georgia by 99% of the worlds nations.

          Russia occupies part of Moldovia, a large chunk of Finland.

          Russia occupies the north Caucasus which, with the exception of Ossetia, has no desire to be part of Russia.

          In Iraq the US forces are now under the command on operations of the Iraqi military (not really an illegal occupation as it was mainly conducted under a UN mandate (the original invasion is a different matter)).

          The US operation in Afghanistan is UN mandated, and also not an illegal occupation.

          If you are a US citizen (which I doubt) or Jewish (which is even more unlikely, though you do fit the description of a Kapo very well), you should be ashamed of yourself.

        • So, deposing a tyrannical dictator who flouted international law and committed some of the most horrific atrocities in existence during the last decades is “illegal”, but manufacturing a casus belli and invading a Democracy at a pre-designated time to aid and abet in ethnic cleansing (as our South Ossetian and Abkhazian “friends” have pointedly done so) while continuing to violate the sovereignty of said nation even OUTSIDE of Moscow’s own limits is lawful?

          And next I suppose the Baltic States, Poland, and the Ukraine are nothing more than breakaway provinces who justly deserve to be re-annexed into the empire.

  2. So said, Russia could have accomplished much and could have created a sphere of real friends, instead it, is invading neighbors and threatening others. No to mention a “friendship” for weapons with dictators like Hugo Chavez and Ortega…

  3. poluchi fashist granatu

    Hugo Chavez and Ortega have more warmth and humanity in their hearts than all Westernizers combined.

  4. yes, comrade “fashist granatu”, but not as much warmth and humanity as your national hero Joseph Stalin, the epitome of Russian humanitarianism. Or by warmth and humanity do you mean being stupid enough to squander billions on useless scrap iron from Russia (sorry, I meant “Russian military equipment”).

    • @useless scrap iron from Russia (sorry, I meant “Russian military equipment”).

      Hey, check out the “cheap, unjammable, easy to operate” PK machine gun of the first of those Spetsnaz geroys:

  5. Photophobe: I have people like you in my own family. There are crazy people everywhere looking for something dumb to believe in and relieve their own tensions. I knew a guy who became islamic. His mother said stay away from my son because he is a genuine wacko.

  6. Ahh yes….the russophobes still waiting for Russia to collapse while their empire crumbles around them.

    And what’s worse, it’s only the begining….a lot worse is coming my little munchkins…..so enjoy your little fantasies a little longer

    Trick question:

    what was the value of the $US in 2000 and what’s it’s worth today?

    • Waiting for Russia to collapse? Russia already collapsed. The problem is their revenchist fantasies, just like with the Germans of the 1920s and 1930s (in short-term it ended badly for the Germans – millions dead and the ruined country, but in long-term it ended well for them – first half and eventually half century later all of Germany became a normal, prosperous, peaceful country).

    • Our “empire” is hardly collapsing around us, even given the current inept management. Face it: your attempts to carve out an empire are ENTIRELY dependent on our will. Had ANY nations chosen to force the issue in Georgia, you would have had your bluff called and either be forced to shed your dreams of grandeur or to fight a war you are hardly equipped to fight.

      Say what you will about the West and the US, but we hardly have such problems, ours come from our citizens.

      And as for the worth of the USD, the answer to both is VASTLY greater than it was worth in late 1929 and even early 1941, soon after which it fueled one of the largest and most complex war machines the world has ever seen.

      And answer this: what was the population of ethnic Russians and their growth rate in 2000 and both figures today?

      THAT is, more than anything, the true measure of power. And you are not on the winning side there.

  7. Nevski is right. USA has been under assault for 100 years. The first big win for the left was the income tax. However, the Obama crowd has made the mistake of coming out in the open. Their huge theft and other vile actions could trigger the counter revolution. 1.7 million middle class people suddenly appearing at the while house is evidense of something big in my opinion. Also Obama is crazy and also evil. He is also dumb. He has a genious for provoking the opposition.

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