Improving Russia is not in the Kremlin’s Interests

Vladimir Ryzhkov, writing in the Moscow Times:

Russians hold no illusions about the ability or the willingness of the authorities to “modernize” — the government’s latest catchword — and view such proclamations in the opposite light of that intended. President Dmitry Medvedev and his administration view modernization as the exclusively technological renewal of the country. The president identified five areas in which new technologies should be developed. New legislation is being drafted to stimulate development of the technologies. The decision has been made to build an innovation city in Skolkovo in the Moscow region that will enjoy legal and tax incentives, and the project has already earned the nickname of Vekselburg, in honor of its director, billionaire Viktor Vekselberg.

At the same time, the Kremlin categorically rejects every initiative aimed at systematically modernizing the country as a whole. These include not only initiatives aimed at creating and acquiring new technologies but, even more important, reforms to political and state institutions to ensure the rule of law and property rights, and policies to promote greater social justice, a new balance between Moscow and the regions and create a favorable business climate. The Kremlin consistently responds with a “no” to every proposal made to implement systemic modernization — as compared with narrow technological advances — put forward by the democratic opposition, numerous specialists, the Institute for Contemporary Development and, most recently, by the European Commission in its partnership for modernization initiative.

But the Russian people want a systemic form of modernization, one that emphasizes societal reforms and the creation of a new social contract between the state and society. This puts them in agreement with researchers at the Institute for Contemporary Development, Russia’s liberal community and even — though they do not realize it — the European Commission.

This has been shown by a survey titled “Is Russian Society Ready for Modernization?” that was recently published by Mikhail Gorshkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences and Reinhardt Krumm from Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The representative national survey was conducted in April and May. First, 73 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that Russia has “a problem, is in a crisis,” and another 11 percent considered conditions to be “catastrophic.”

Second, the demand for change in society is very strong now, with three-fourths of all Russians responding favorably to Medvedev’s call for modernization — understanding that term to mean a program of far-reaching reforms that would help the country emerge from the terrible position into which it has fallen. Third, it turns out that the government’s model for modernization, with its focus on purely technical achievements and innovation, stands in only fourth place among the modernization models Russians prefer, with only 24 percent of respondents supporting it.

Leading the list was a completely different model. That model, with support from 41 percent of respondents, turned out to be the very version of modernization that independent think tanks and European institutions have been pushing for: “The equality of all people before the law and the upholding of constitutionally guaranteed human rights.” That type of modernization requires deep and urgent reforms, including political reforms.

The second most popular model focused on “a tough fight against corruption,” with 38 percent of respondents supporting it. (Respondents could vote for more than one model.)

Russians are clearly dissatisfied with the way that Russian authorities merely pay lip service to the government’s largely symbolic struggle against bribery, kickbacks and embezzlement of budgetary funds. But no real fight against corruption is possible without political and institutional reforms — the return of political competition, freedom of the press, public access to information concerning the activities of the government, and independent judiciary and investigative agencies. According to the survey, the hatred for corruption and corrupt individuals is especially strong among residents of large and medium-sized cities and among those who are highly educated. These are the very people who should modernize the country.

The third preferred model was “providing social justice,” with 31 percent of respondents backing it. The people are more than a little irked by the fact that both the number of dollar billionaires in Russia and the number of unemployed have doubled during the crisis. Russians are feeling growing frustration and even abhorrence over the expanding gap in personal incomes and consumption, the glamorous lifestyles of rich individuals and government officials, the privileges enjoyed by officials on Russia’s roads, and the appearance of closed housing communities with their own elite neighborhoods, schools and hospitals.

The firm and clear demand of the Russian people is not for a narrowly defined technical modernization like the Skolkovo project and the high-speed Sapsan commuter trains purchased from Germany that travel between Moscow and St. Petersburg, but for a systemic modernization that includes a government subject to the rule of law and accountable to the people, a policy for equalizing incomes, and the elimination of the rampant state and political corruption. Russians are not at all opposed to technological progress, but they clearly understand that no innovative high-tech projects can be carried out in the existing bureaucratic, nontransparent and corrupt environment. People understand the very thing that the Kremlin does not want to understand or acknowledge — that the greatest problem facing Russia today is the appalling quality of the state itself and the poor quality of its government. For this country to survive, it must, first and foremost, modernize the state itself.

Some senior officials and specialists with close ties to the leadership indirectly acknowledge this. The Center for Strategic Development, which gave then-President Vladimir Putin the Strategy 2010 reform program, found in summing up the results of that program that only 35 percent to 40 percent of its goals had been achieved. Even against the 2000s backdrop of strong macroeconomic growth, the authorities failed to create modern public and state institutions, strengthen municipal governments, establish the rule of law, change the backward structure of the economy and improve the overall competitiveness of the economy.

Only an unwillingness on the part of the Kremlin to compromise its commercial interests and its hold on power can explain its persistent refusal to begin a dialogue on a meaningful, systemic modernization of the country. The need for this reform has been acknowledged by the greater part of Russian society, analysts and the political community, from the die-hard opposition to government loyalists.

32 responses to “Improving Russia is not in the Kremlin’s Interests

  1. The problem is we still have too many ‘government loyalists’ who fail to understand that no ‘true modernization’ is possible with the gang of a government we currently have in power.

    • But you (I don’t mean you personally Igor) are the ones who put that gang in power, and voted for it, and support it? Why, if you don’t have a dictatorship, don’t you change that gang? And if you do have a dictatorship, how come large majorities still support Mr. Putin?

      • RV, you are extremely naive, as all Americans. Putin is extremely popular in Russia and beyond because of his efficiency as head of state, and those politicians like Ryzhkov (who wrote the article) and Nemtsov are jokes, as they fully damaged their reputation by bringing the country almost to civil war in the 90s, with no economy and total deficit of all basic foods and products, state defaults, massive corruption of Eltsin’s clan and oligarkhs, etc. Note that in 90s, thanks to their “efforts”, people got salaries and pensions sometimes with 6 month delay (sounds like a joke now, but it was true — you have to die politics). Note that according to statistical polls, Putin could now easily win presidential elections in Ukraine, Moldova and Belorussia if he would hypothetically stand for election — so popular is he there as well. It has nothing with “dictatorship”, but just with his professionalism and efficiency. That is why people in Russia PRAY for having Putin further. Soviet KGB employees were, BTW, in general VERY EFFICIENT and PROFESSIONAL as they learned state relevant problems and solve them efficiently, unlike liberast empty chatterers like Nemtsov and Ryzhkov, who can only talk and nothing else.

        • Soviet KGB employees were, BTW, in general VERY EFFICIENT and PROFESSIONAL and PAID SERIAL KILLERS.

        • I know Putin is popular in Russia; dictators often are. Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were all very popular. However, Igor above has noticed that no modernization is possible while this government is in power, and I agree.

          What does the word “liberast” mean? I am not aware of the existence such a word in the English language. Is this some kind of new slang?

          • Check this link, do you think it is possible with a dictatorship?

            And liberast means neo-liberal + pederast, check the www. (Thanks LR for deleting my comments, I’ll post then again, no worries)

            • Now Amigo, given you are a retard, you should be forgiven for equating that with real political satire.

              Given that during the song Medvedeva and Putina are basically crowing about their rule, it is not a political satire, let alone criticism.

              • Really Amigo, do you have to show that you are completely brain dead?

                Russian TV Cuts “South Park” Putin Scene

                MOSCOW — A Russian TV channel cut a segment of the ribald U.S. cartoon comedy “South Park” that appeared to mock Vladimir Putin, a spokesman said Friday.

                The channel “2X2” cut material from the show that aired Tuesday portraying Putin as a greedy and desperate leader, the network’s spokesman said. The decision prompted criticism and furious discussion on Russia blogs.

                It was unclear whether the decision, involving an episode that originally aired in the United States in 2005, was made by channel executives or regulators.

                Asked about the Putin scene being cut, channel spokesman Andrei Andreyev told The Associated Press by e-mail that: “the given scene in this version was absent.”

                Andreyev said it was the third time the edited version of the episode had been shown this year. He declined to comment on the reason for the censorship.

                A spokesman with Russia’s broadcast regulator, Rosskomnadzor, said he knew nothing of the incident.

                “We have never interfered with editorial decisions,” Yevgeny Strelchik said.

                The Soviet collapse loosened the reins on news and information, and open mocking of government officials _ Kremlin or otherwise _ was popular in the 1990s. Under Putin’s presidency, however, there’s been a noticeable shift away from biting satire.

                The channel NTV was forced to pull its satirical puppet show “Kukly” in 2002 after the Kremlin objected to the excessive lampooning of Putin.


              • And regards the Putin-Medvedev animation:

                Russia’s Ruling Pair Dance Cartoon TV Duet

                Russian TV viewers were treated to a surprise cartoon duet from their President and Prime Minister immediately after the latter’s official New Year’s Eve address.

                n the two-and-a-half-minute animation, caricatures of President Dmitri Medvedev and his sidekick Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reviewed their year in a jaunty ditty while playing the accordion and tambourine on Red Square.
                The ruling pair take turns to sing lines in the song, and when one of the men embellishes his performance with a flourish, he is immediately congratulated by his partner.
                At one point the judo black belt Putin slaps his own bottom with his tambourine.

                Russians are more used to seeing him hunting with a gun or sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet.
                When President Medvedev wishes the Russian people “A Happy New Year for the second time”, his predecessor gently reminds him that “one of us has done that nine times already”.
                There’s an indication that this comedic appearance was not just a one-off.

                The pair have been added to the cast of Mult Lichnosti, a twice-weekly show poking fun at political figures which runs on Russia’s state-owned Channel One.
                The station’s director, Konstantin Ernst, said that he was not obliged to consult the Kremlin before developing his latest characters.
                “We have to be careful,” he told the New York Times.
                “One shouldn’t do anything insulting.
                “In any case, our authors have no desire to insult them.”


                Wow, some real political satire there eh amigo?


                Really Amigo, you need to give your brain a chance.

                The song was not any form of criticism of Putin or Medvedev, it was simply a recitation of the years events in their intimate tandem.

                If it had been a criticism, it would never have been aired.

              • The 30-minute “Mult Lichnosti” episode broadcast on New Year’s Eve showed Putin and Medvedev dancing in the style of Soviet-era stand-up comedians, with Medvedev playing a harmonica and Putin shaking a tambourine and slapping it from time to time on his bottom.

                The two sing mockingly about Nabucco, the Western-supported pipeline that would bypass Russia to deliver Central Asian gas to Western Europe through Turkey, and President Viktor Yushchenko and his political problems in Ukraine, which votes in a presidential election Sunday.

                The dancing duo also sing about Pikalyovo, the Leningrad region town where Putin intervened to curb angry workers’ protests in May, GM’s decision to cancel the sale of Opel to Sberbank, and corrupt bureaucrats.

                “There was a time when bureaucrats lived on kickbacks, but I took some measures and they now live somewhere else,” Putin sings, meaning that corrupt officials have been put behind bars.

                Putin plays the dominant role in the cartoon, while Medvedev serves more as a back-up singer.

                The show also offered story lines without the two leaders, including sketches that poked fun at Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Russian pop stars and sports celebrities.


                The cartoon could be an attempt to pre-empt possible public dissatisfaction with Putin and Medvedev by placing them in a mild satirical light, said Andrei Mukhin, a political analyst with the Center for Political Information.


                But he also noted that Channel One viewers, who are fed a steady diet of pro-Kremlin propaganda on the news, would also enjoy elements of the cartoon focused on the Kremlin’s foes.

                “Yushchenko and Saakashvili being scolded will resonate with 85 percent of the Russian population,” he said.


                Ernst conceded in an interview with The New York Times that he had to walk a tight rope to feature Putin and Medvedev because “one should be careful not to do anything insulting.”

                Putin took offense with an episode of “Kukly” that depicted him as Klein Zaches, a small and ugly creature from the well-known novel of the same name by 19th-century German writer E.T.A. Hoffmann, said Viktor Shenderovich, the satirist who wrote most of the scripts for “Kukly” during its run from 1995 to 2002.

                The show didn’t last long after that.

                Shenderovich criticized “Mult Lichnosti” as “a parody on satire.”

                “This is PR trying to act as a satire. This is the most disgusting thing possible,” Shenderovich said on Radio Liberty on Jan. 4.


                I really do suggest you learn how to read Amigo, your retardation is all to apparent.

                • Captain Obvious

                  People don’t speak to you because your posts are too long. See TL/DR.

                  • Precisely. He’s talking with himself replying his own posts, each of them 1000 likes long. And still, his posts don’t answer any question of his opponents.

  2. Yeah, Putin is another “efficient manager” like murderer Stalin. Idiots!

    • @ Soviet KGB employees were, BTW, in general VERY EFFICIENT and PROFESSIONAL and PAID SERIAL KILLERS.

      So did CIA and Mossad employees as well, much more often than the “villains” from KGB. Yanks even trained and supported Bin Laden to prepare him for killing Russians in Afganistan as “freedom fighter” (without any concern that he may then switch to killing Americans); but this didn’t prevent the CIA former director, George Bush, to be elected as the US president.

      @Yeah, Putin is another “efficient manager” like murderer Stalin. Idiots!

      Yes, Putin IS “efficient manager” , idiot, otherwise you and your friends russophobes wouldn’t bark at this blog. Eltsin was more comfortable for you, right?

      • Perhaps he’s just jealous :D

      • Amigo,
        Soviets, during the war in afghanistan destroyed totally thriving agriculture of afghanistan. Afghans turned to cultivating poppy – and in turn, now the afghan heroin is killing the whole generations in russia – it is trully poetic justice…Russians are so desperate that they blame americans for this cathastrophy and demand american help…..

        • Well, not really, just look at the fact that soooo much heroin gets used by Russians.

          By the way, heroin abuse was a problem in the Russian army that invaded and occupied Afghanistan in 1979-1988.

          Guess that watching heroin destroy the so-called Russian culture is some small measure of revenge for the 1,000,000 or so Afghans that were killed by Russia……

          • So nice to see another balanced responce from you, Andrew.

          • Just look at the fact that during the Yanks occupation of Afganistan, the level of Afghan drugs production grew up 44 times higher than it was in 2001, see

            Well, Putin definitely finds the way to stop this soon, once it was brought up for a discussion. Under the real pressure that Manas base may be any minute closed, Yanks will be more cooperative.

            • Well, heroin production is really only reaching the levels last seen when Russia was occupying Afghanistan.

              Besides, be careful what you wish for sh, if the US pulls out of Afghanistan, the Talibs will tear you a new asshole in fairly short order, just as the Muj did in the 80’s.

              Remember, they can do far more damage to you.

              • reaching the levels last seen when Russia was occupying Afghanistan

                And the source of the bs is – ?

                • Well, just about any history of Afghanistan.

                  Of course, given that you can’t read….

                  Drug use was a major problem for Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

                  The long-term impact, and one of the most terrible consequences of the Afghan
                  War, was the addiction of soldiers to alcohol and drugs. Death, drinking, and
                  drugs became part of the veterans’ lives forever. Drugs were essential to the
                  survival of the soldiers. Drugs helped them to carry 40 kilos of ammunition up
                  and down the mountains, to overcome depression after their friends’ deaths, to
                  prevail over the fear of death. Drugs and alcohol became the usual procedure of
                  self-medication when other options were denied. The abuse of drugs created a
                  generation of drug and alcohol addicts. According to the official reports of
                  the Russian Department of Health Services, 40 millions medically certified
                  alcoholics in 1985 were registered. Consumption of alcohol had increased 20,4%
                  from its consumption in 1950-79.[8] If
                  these were official reports then it is possible that they were only a part of
                  truth, and another part is like the bottom part of an iceberg – it cannot be
                  There wasn’t a single person among us who did not try drugs in Afghanistan.
                  You needed relaxation there, or you went out of your mind.


                  • Come on, Andrew, are the words of one addicted veteran a valid proof for you? This way, I can prove everything, even that ALL Americans in Vietnam used to smell napalm to substitute heroin…

                  • Hi Andrew,

                    The kremlin created the heroin problem in russia when it invaded Afghanistan. Veterans of the red army, that invaded Afghanistan, told me that when a russian general had a dead soviet soldier who was an orphan, and without a family that cares about his remains, they would dump the dead body in the mountains, and fill the coffin with heroin.

                    This is how the kremlin “cares” about their veterens.

              • The Muj’s have mostly teared Americans with their BEST freedom fighter, Bin Laden, whom (the funny side of the story) Americans (!!!) trained to kill Russian soldiers in Afganistan, but then (oh, dear) he started to massively kill Americans, oh my Gosh!!! This story have not finished, I guess.

        • these are your heroin dreams, pussy from usa. The main consumer of heroin is America.

          • amigo wrote;

            these are your heroin dreams, pussy from usa. The main consumer of heroin is America.

            Why then the 60% of young generation [20-20] are HIV positive – for a future army of invavdors is i snot a very good news……

        • NATO helping drug dealers in 21st century may hardly be justified by the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

          • dymytry wrote;

            NATO helping drug dealers in 21st century may hardly be justified by the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

            NATO also distributeS the heroine all over Russia… Stop drinking that contimanated russian samogon/vodka dimasha before it’s too late.

            By the way, the russian orthodox churchEs all over russia selling officially vodka, cigarette and unoficially the drugs. DISTRIBUTION OF DRUGS IS DONE BY RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT READ RUSSIAN MAFIA… so you are really doomed.

  3. They can not improve because they think that they are “Great” already.

    Egypt to re-export a Russian wheat cargo
    Today at 15:40 | Reuters CAIRO, June 22 (Reuters) – Tests carried out by Egypt’s Health Ministry showed a Russian wheat shipment held in Alexandria was not fit for consumption and would be re-exported, the official news agency MENA reported on Tuesday.

    Quarantine officials in Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, stepped up wheat inspections last year after a dispute erupted with local wheat importing company Egyptian Traders over the quality of two Russian wheat cargoes.

    Nomani Nomani, the vice president of the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) which has bought several cargoes of Russian wheat since then, told Reuters the cargo in question was owned by a private importer, not the state buyer.

    He did not name any private firm or give further details.

    “Results of tests carried out by the Health Ministry on the cargo of Russian wheat that was recently held in Alexandria confirmed it was spoiled and not fit for human consumption because it contained a large number of live insects,” MENA said.

    Read more:

  4. Pingback: June 21, 2010 — Contents | Videolar- Komik-Eğlenceli-Ciddi-Filmler

  5. Thank you – good work! This is very interesting!

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