Category Archives: illarionov

Illarionov on the Russian Economic Apocalypse

It’s a Catastrophe

by Andrei Illarionov

A post from the author’s blog

Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel

Russia’s Federal Office of State Statistics and the Russian Government Economy Observation Centre have disclosed data on November’s industrial production trends. If one is only allowed one word to comment these, then that word is “catastrophe”.

Since the Russia’s Federal Office of State Statistic’s site is currently not accessible, I think this is a good time to publish the base statistics with my preliminary analysis.

Continue reading

Illarionov on the Crisis

Other Russia reports:

Liberal Charter, a Russian political alliance led by liberal economist Andrei Illarionov, writes a scathing statement against the Russian response to the financial crisis, and describes a pathway out of the crisis. Andrei Illarionov is a former policy advisor to the Russian president, is now an opposition leader. The statement first appeared on his LiveJournal blog.

A Statement by the Liberal Charter Alliance

The Liberal Charter alliance expresses its fundamental disagreement with the measures taken by Russian authorities in the financial crisis, and puts forth the principles of a fiscal policy that a government responsible to the citizens of Russia must take.

1. Today’s financial crisis in Russia has foreign and domestic causes. The most important external cause of this crisis is the world monetary system, which goes through cyclical phases of boom and bust. Such instability is created first of all by modern money, which governments can issue in any amount, combined with a wide range of government privileges and guarantees provided to commercial banks. Interest rates held at artificially low levels and government loan guarantees stimulate the growth of credit that is not backed by real savings, leading to less responsibility on the part of creditors and borrowers, and a collapse of confidence in financial assets.

The main culprits of the global financial crisis are the fiscal authorities in the U.S. and European countries, who have pursued a policy of so-called “cheap” money in recent years. The governments of other countries, including Russia, also carry their share of responsibility for spreading and worsening the crisis. Government encouragement of credit expansion has led to massive investments into overly risky, inefficient, and unsalable projects. The illusion of the accessibility of investment resources, created by governments, has led to a decline in the quality of issued loans and purchased securities. As result, many banks have been unable to meet their obligations before depositors.

Continue reading

Illarionov on the Stock Market and Georgia

Andrei Illarionov, first writing in the Moscow Times on the stock market crash and then via Paul Goble on Georgia:

From its peak on May 19 to its lowest point on Sept. 17, the Russian stock market has fallen by almost 58 percent. This is its largest decline since the crash of 1998. What is the cause of the current cataclysm?

The Kremlin has been quick to blame the West, and primarily the United States, for the country’s troubles. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin blamed Western “speculators” who pulled out their investments en masse at the first sign of trouble. He also denied that Russia’s aggression toward Georgia played any role in the market’s fall. Putin suggested that the crisis is connected “not with the problems of the Russian economy, but with problems of the West’s economy.” In recent comments, he even referred to it as the “American contagion.”

Continue reading

Illarionov Commenter Proves Russia started the Georgia Conflict

Other Russia translates a comment from Andrei Illiarionov’s Russian-language blog on Live Journal, based on a reported interview of a Russian company commander:

Interview with a wounded company commander from the 135th motorized rifle regiment, in “Red Star,” [a Russian military newspaper]

“We were doing exercises,” captain Sidristy’s story starts. “This was relatively close to the capital of South Ossetia. Nizhny Zaramakh is a wilderness area in North Ossetia. We made camp there after our scheduled exercises, but on August 7th, the order came to move out towards Tskhinvali. We were raised to a state of alarm, and went on the march. We arrived, settled in, and already on August 8th the fire came down with such force that many even lost their bearings. No, everyone understood that Georgia was preparing something, but it was hard to even imagine what we saw. Immediately after midnight, a massive shelling of the city and peacekeeping positions was started. They hit it from all types of weapons, including artillery rocket systems.”

Analysis [by LiveJournal blogger davnym_davno]:

Continue reading

Illarionov on Georgia

FinRosForum translates former Kremlin insider Andrei Illarionov from the pages of Yezhedevny Zhurnal, listing the 13 conclusions he thinks should be drawn from Russia’s invasion of Georgia.

1. The war against Georgia was a brilliant provocation carefully planned and successfully carried out by the Russian leadership. The campaign was practically identical to the plan carried out in another theatre at another time — [Chechen warlord Shamil] Basaev’s attack into Dagestan and the beginning of the second Chechen war in 1999.

Continue reading

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov’s Call for Action, by our Original Translator

February Theses for the Citizens of Russia

Andrey Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

February 28, 2008

Recent events – the October-November Bacchanalia of an “election campaign”, the special operation called “02 December 2007”, the military-“Nashisti” occupation of Moscow on 2-6 December, and the special operation now underway known as “02 March 2008” – represent a qualitative break in the situation with Russian society and government. This new situation allows the formulation of a number of key theses.

On the Legitimacy of the Regime

The illegitimate character of the “elections” of December 2, 2007 and March 2, 2008 make claims by their “victors” to have won government office in Russia illegal. That means that not only the elected “State Duma” and its deputies, not only the “president” now being elected, but now also the lower officials being appointed by this Duma and this “president” – all are illegitimate.

On the Risks to Russia

The illegitimacy of the regime is leading it to an even larger-scale use of falsifications, bribery and violence against the citizens of Russia. The creation of absolute power by this illegitimate regime – along with destroying the fundamental institutions of government and society and monopolizing all political, economic and information resources in the hands of the regime’s representatives – enormously increases the level of risk for the country and its people. The main threats today are not so much threats to the economy or people’s well-being as direct threats to people’s security and lives.

On Our Aims – Long-Term and Short-Term

The main objectives for those who consider themselves citizens of Russia will be the prevention of a national catastrophe, ensuring the security of the people, and preserving for Russian society the basic norms of human morality in more difficult less agreeable circumstances. In the final analysis, it will be impossible to achieve these objectives without the replacement of the current regime. There should be no place on Russian soil for the regime of a political and criminal thug.

On the Possibility of a Gradual Evolution of the Regime

The hopes of many that the regime might be changed by nurturing, education and persuasion have been proven baseless. All efforts at changing the regime by cooperating with its leaders have ended in failure. Those who were changed were not the chekistisiloviki [TN: political slang for former intelligence officers in positions of authority in the government]; it was not the siloviki who adopted the norms of civil society, but the representatives of the civil bureaucracy who took up the craft and habits of the siloviki. The current regime in Russia has proven itself to be incapable of internal evolution.

On Cooperation with the Regime

There should be no doubt about it: cooperation with this regime by law-abiding, civil professionals does not weaken the regime, it strengthens it. Attempts to influence officials of the regime through knowledge, argument and logic simply arm the regime intellectually and further strengthen it in the war it is waging against the citizens of Russia.

On Expectations for a Political Thaw

Expectations of a political “thaw”, a possible liberalization and democratization of the current regime in connection with a rotation of personnel in the position of president, have lost all bases. There is nothing in the personal characteristics of tomorrow’s “president” – neither in his education, world view, professional resume, past experience, degree of independence, nor amount of real authority; no sort of new demand for democratic change from the regime’s political base (intelligence officers and bureaucrats, Russian monopolists and the Western political and business leaders); and nothing in the key conditions of modern Russian society – neither in the monopoly on information, repression against opponents, nor the price of oil; there is nothing at all providing any reason to expect genuine – not just stylistic – change for the better. More likely the opposite.

On Ways to Change the Regime

In democratic societies the changeover from one political regime to another occurs as a result of elections – parliamentary or presidential. There is no point in feeding any illusions here: for the Russia of today, this path is closed. Under authoritarian systems of government, the political regime can be overthrown only by revolution, coup, or external occupation. Under conditions in which the regime has a monopoly on the law enforcement and intelligence structures, and taking into consideration the regime’s willingness to use them against peaceful citizens, any call for forcibly changing the regime is tantamount to a call for suicide.

On Violence

A call for violence would be extremely undesirable. Nonetheless, it cannot be entirely ruled out. The law-abiding citizen who is attacked by bandits has the right to self-defense. The presence or absence of uniforms on the bandits at the time of the attack does not make them guardians of order.

On Term Lengths

The terms of the current regime may turn out to be longer than they seem to be or one might hope they are today.

On Unification of the People

Attempts at survival by separate parties, organizations or groups are, in the current situation, doomed. Those few victories the people have enjoyed over the regime in the past few years have been possible only when the people were able to unite: against the monetization of allowances [TN: lgoty, generally given to pensioners or the disabled, consisting of discounted or free food, transportation, utilities, etc.], for the defense of Shcherbinskiy, in the defense of Lake Baikal. Without unity, the people cannot defend their rights in an even limited way.

On a Platform for Unification

Unification of the people of Russia is not possible on either an ideological or political basis. The people of Russia support a wide variety of viewpoints, world views, ideologies and political currents. Formation of a massive political party would be possible only with the help of a totalitarian ideology and military-like discipline, or on the basis of bureaucratic loyalty. Unification of the people can be created only on the basis of moral principles that distinguish the democratic opposition from the authoritarian regime. But unification of the people cannot be constructed solely to oppose the regime; it must have a positive aim as well.

On the Aims of Unification

In Russia today there is no goal more important and no national platform broader than the restoration of civil rights and freedoms, ensuring the primacy of law and independence of mass media, and creating a democratic political system in the country. So a working title for the unification movement might be “Civil Movement” or “Civil Coalition”.

On the Principles of a Civil Movement

The guiding principles of the Civil Movement are for democratic principles in the organization of society and governmental authority: for legal equality of all citizens in Russia, regardless of their situation in life, status, political views, nationality, creed or gender; for tolerance toward the views of others as long as they do not violate the Russian Constitution; for freedom of speech; and for honest political competition. In interactions between the people and the regime’s representatives, the guiding principles remain the rules for existence worked out by the prisoners of the Gulag: “Don’t believe (the regime). Don’t be afraid (of the regime). Don’t ask for anything (from the regime).” It would be worthwhile to add to these a fourth principle: “Don’t cooperate with the regime or participate in its dealings.”

On the Participants in a Civil Movement

Supporters of liberal, conservative, patriotic and socialist points of view could all, within the framework of a Civil Movement, cooperate with each other in the project of creating a free Russia, as long as their joint program for action does not contradict the principles of the inviolability of the individual, legal equality for all citizens, and honest, fair and democratic elections. Advancing various political agendas by participants in the coalition would be possible to the extent that they do not contradict basic civil freedoms and democratic principles for the organization of society and government.

On the West

Any expectation of support – even just moral support – for a Russian civil movement from the political leaders and governments of the West is without basis. For many Western leaders, the current regime in Russia is more convenient, comfortable and pleasant than its opponents would be. Western leaders have accumulated considerable experience in cooperating with and supporting authoritarian regimes in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The restoration of civil freedooms, legal order and democracy are matters for the Russian people themselves.

On Oil

The increase in the price of oil in recent years was not the reason for the socio-political degradation of the country, and neither will a future drop in price guarantee the civil and political emancipation of Russia. The root of the problem lies not in the molecules of oil, but in the views, ideologies and outlooks on the world that prevail among representatives of the current regime and those parts of Russian society that consider inequality of people under the law, authoritarian organization of government, and use of violence against citizens as possible, tolerable, desirable, and normal.

On Participation in the Special Operation Called “02 March 2008”

Participation by the citizens of Russia in the special operation called “02 March 2008” is unacceptable. Non-participation by citizens in the so-called “presidential elections” as a form of boycott presents the regime with an additional means for falsifying the official results. For citizens concerned about the fate of their country, not trusting the current regime and not desiring to have their own small resource used against them, have one possible course of action remaining: take the ballot home with you.

On Counting the Removed Ballots

Ballots that have been taken home can and should be counted – outside of official voting places and outside the election commission. Counting of the removed ballots is necessary not in order to show the results to the regime, or to convince them of something or mock them. It is necessary for the citizens of Russia to conduct a different election, build a different system of government power, elect a different parliament, and create a different country. Removed ballots might be exchanged for “citizens’ ballots” that could be used to elect members of a Civil Movement proto-parliament.

On the Proto-Parliament

The major project that might unify participants in the Civil Movement could be the formation of a proto-parliament through elections using “citizens’ ballots” that would be received in exchange for unused ballots from the official “presidential election” of March 2. In doing this they could draw on their experience with free elections developed during the “Other Russia” primaries in the Summer-Fall 2007 period. The main objective of the Civil Movement should be the discussion of issues associated with ensuring the security of citizens, restoration of civil freedoms, establishment of legal order, and the creation of a democratic political system in Russia.

On the Basic Program of a Civil Movement

Working out a final program for the Civil Movement will demand time and cooperative work from its participants. But several key requirements for the basic program can be formulated as follows:

1. Immediate release of all political prisoners.

2. Immediate end to all political repression.

3. Immediate elimination of all limits on the activities of the mass media.

4. Elimination of limits and prohibitions on political activities.

5. Restoration of basic civil freedoms, including the sanctity of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and freedom of assembly and association.

6. Introduction of a criminal prohibition against interference by the executive branch of government in court decisions.

7. Restoration of election laws to what they were as of December 31, 1999.

8. Cancellation of the official results from the special operations of 02 December 2007 and 02 March 2008.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov’s Call for Action, by our Original Translator

February Theses for the Citizens of Russia

Andrey Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

February 28, 2008

Recent events – the October-November Bacchanalia of an “election campaign”, the special operation called “02 December 2007”, the military-“Nashisti” occupation of Moscow on 2-6 December, and the special operation now underway known as “02 March 2008” – represent a qualitative break in the situation with Russian society and government. This new situation allows the formulation of a number of key theses.

On the Legitimacy of the Regime

The illegitimate character of the “elections” of December 2, 2007 and March 2, 2008 make claims by their “victors” to have won government office in Russia illegal. That means that not only the elected “State Duma” and its deputies, not only the “president” now being elected, but now also the lower officials being appointed by this Duma and this “president” – all are illegitimate.

On the Risks to Russia

The illegitimacy of the regime is leading it to an even larger-scale use of falsifications, bribery and violence against the citizens of Russia. The creation of absolute power by this illegitimate regime – along with destroying the fundamental institutions of government and society and monopolizing all political, economic and information resources in the hands of the regime’s representatives – enormously increases the level of risk for the country and its people. The main threats today are not so much threats to the economy or people’s well-being as direct threats to people’s security and lives.

On Our Aims – Long-Term and Short-Term

The main objectives for those who consider themselves citizens of Russia will be the prevention of a national catastrophe, ensuring the security of the people, and preserving for Russian society the basic norms of human morality in more difficult less agreeable circumstances. In the final analysis, it will be impossible to achieve these objectives without the replacement of the current regime. There should be no place on Russian soil for the regime of a political and criminal thug.

On the Possibility of a Gradual Evolution of the Regime

The hopes of many that the regime might be changed by nurturing, education and persuasion have been proven baseless. All efforts at changing the regime by cooperating with its leaders have ended in failure. Those who were changed were not the chekistisiloviki [TN: political slang for former intelligence officers in positions of authority in the government]; it was not the siloviki who adopted the norms of civil society, but the representatives of the civil bureaucracy who took up the craft and habits of the siloviki. The current regime in Russia has proven itself to be incapable of internal evolution.

On Cooperation with the Regime

There should be no doubt about it: cooperation with this regime by law-abiding, civil professionals does not weaken the regime, it strengthens it. Attempts to influence officials of the regime through knowledge, argument and logic simply arm the regime intellectually and further strengthen it in the war it is waging against the citizens of Russia.

On Expectations for a Political Thaw

Expectations of a political “thaw”, a possible liberalization and democratization of the current regime in connection with a rotation of personnel in the position of president, have lost all bases. There is nothing in the personal characteristics of tomorrow’s “president” – neither in his education, world view, professional resume, past experience, degree of independence, nor amount of real authority; no sort of new demand for democratic change from the regime’s political base (intelligence officers and bureaucrats, Russian monopolists and the Western political and business leaders); and nothing in the key conditions of modern Russian society – neither in the monopoly on information, repression against opponents, nor the price of oil; there is nothing at all providing any reason to expect genuine – not just stylistic – change for the better. More likely the opposite.

On Ways to Change the Regime

In democratic societies the changeover from one political regime to another occurs as a result of elections – parliamentary or presidential. There is no point in feeding any illusions here: for the Russia of today, this path is closed. Under authoritarian systems of government, the political regime can be overthrown only by revolution, coup, or external occupation. Under conditions in which the regime has a monopoly on the law enforcement and intelligence structures, and taking into consideration the regime’s willingness to use them against peaceful citizens, any call for forcibly changing the regime is tantamount to a call for suicide.

On Violence

A call for violence would be extremely undesirable. Nonetheless, it cannot be entirely ruled out. The law-abiding citizen who is attacked by bandits has the right to self-defense. The presence or absence of uniforms on the bandits at the time of the attack does not make them guardians of order.

On Term Lengths

The terms of the current regime may turn out to be longer than they seem to be or one might hope they are today.

On Unification of the People

Attempts at survival by separate parties, organizations or groups are, in the current situation, doomed. Those few victories the people have enjoyed over the regime in the past few years have been possible only when the people were able to unite: against the monetization of allowances [TN: lgoty, generally given to pensioners or the disabled, consisting of discounted or free food, transportation, utilities, etc.], for the defense of Shcherbinskiy, in the defense of Lake Baikal. Without unity, the people cannot defend their rights in an even limited way.

On a Platform for Unification

Unification of the people of Russia is not possible on either an ideological or political basis. The people of Russia support a wide variety of viewpoints, world views, ideologies and political currents. Formation of a massive political party would be possible only with the help of a totalitarian ideology and military-like discipline, or on the basis of bureaucratic loyalty. Unification of the people can be created only on the basis of moral principles that distinguish the democratic opposition from the authoritarian regime. But unification of the people cannot be constructed solely to oppose the regime; it must have a positive aim as well.

On the Aims of Unification

In Russia today there is no goal more important and no national platform broader than the restoration of civil rights and freedoms, ensuring the primacy of law and independence of mass media, and creating a democratic political system in the country. So a working title for the unification movement might be “Civil Movement” or “Civil Coalition”.

On the Principles of a Civil Movement

The guiding principles of the Civil Movement are for democratic principles in the organization of society and governmental authority: for legal equality of all citizens in Russia, regardless of their situation in life, status, political views, nationality, creed or gender; for tolerance toward the views of others as long as they do not violate the Russian Constitution; for freedom of speech; and for honest political competition. In interactions between the people and the regime’s representatives, the guiding principles remain the rules for existence worked out by the prisoners of the Gulag: “Don’t believe (the regime). Don’t be afraid (of the regime). Don’t ask for anything (from the regime).” It would be worthwhile to add to these a fourth principle: “Don’t cooperate with the regime or participate in its dealings.”

On the Participants in a Civil Movement

Supporters of liberal, conservative, patriotic and socialist points of view could all, within the framework of a Civil Movement, cooperate with each other in the project of creating a free Russia, as long as their joint program for action does not contradict the principles of the inviolability of the individual, legal equality for all citizens, and honest, fair and democratic elections. Advancing various political agendas by participants in the coalition would be possible to the extent that they do not contradict basic civil freedoms and democratic principles for the organization of society and government.

On the West

Any expectation of support – even just moral support – for a Russian civil movement from the political leaders and governments of the West is without basis. For many Western leaders, the current regime in Russia is more convenient, comfortable and pleasant than its opponents would be. Western leaders have accumulated considerable experience in cooperating with and supporting authoritarian regimes in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The restoration of civil freedooms, legal order and democracy are matters for the Russian people themselves.

On Oil

The increase in the price of oil in recent years was not the reason for the socio-political degradation of the country, and neither will a future drop in price guarantee the civil and political emancipation of Russia. The root of the problem lies not in the molecules of oil, but in the views, ideologies and outlooks on the world that prevail among representatives of the current regime and those parts of Russian society that consider inequality of people under the law, authoritarian organization of government, and use of violence against citizens as possible, tolerable, desirable, and normal.

On Participation in the Special Operation Called “02 March 2008”

Participation by the citizens of Russia in the special operation called “02 March 2008” is unacceptable. Non-participation by citizens in the so-called “presidential elections” as a form of boycott presents the regime with an additional means for falsifying the official results. For citizens concerned about the fate of their country, not trusting the current regime and not desiring to have their own small resource used against them, have one possible course of action remaining: take the ballot home with you.

On Counting the Removed Ballots

Ballots that have been taken home can and should be counted – outside of official voting places and outside the election commission. Counting of the removed ballots is necessary not in order to show the results to the regime, or to convince them of something or mock them. It is necessary for the citizens of Russia to conduct a different election, build a different system of government power, elect a different parliament, and create a different country. Removed ballots might be exchanged for “citizens’ ballots” that could be used to elect members of a Civil Movement proto-parliament.

On the Proto-Parliament

The major project that might unify participants in the Civil Movement could be the formation of a proto-parliament through elections using “citizens’ ballots” that would be received in exchange for unused ballots from the official “presidential election” of March 2. In doing this they could draw on their experience with free elections developed during the “Other Russia” primaries in the Summer-Fall 2007 period. The main objective of the Civil Movement should be the discussion of issues associated with ensuring the security of citizens, restoration of civil freedoms, establishment of legal order, and the creation of a democratic political system in Russia.

On the Basic Program of a Civil Movement

Working out a final program for the Civil Movement will demand time and cooperative work from its participants. But several key requirements for the basic program can be formulated as follows:

1. Immediate release of all political prisoners.

2. Immediate end to all political repression.

3. Immediate elimination of all limits on the activities of the mass media.

4. Elimination of limits and prohibitions on political activities.

5. Restoration of basic civil freedoms, including the sanctity of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and freedom of assembly and association.

6. Introduction of a criminal prohibition against interference by the executive branch of government in court decisions.

7. Restoration of election laws to what they were as of December 31, 1999.

8. Cancellation of the official results from the special operations of 02 December 2007 and 02 March 2008.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov’s Call for Action, by our Original Translator

February Theses for the Citizens of Russia

Andrey Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

February 28, 2008

Recent events – the October-November Bacchanalia of an “election campaign”, the special operation called “02 December 2007”, the military-“Nashisti” occupation of Moscow on 2-6 December, and the special operation now underway known as “02 March 2008” – represent a qualitative break in the situation with Russian society and government. This new situation allows the formulation of a number of key theses.

On the Legitimacy of the Regime

The illegitimate character of the “elections” of December 2, 2007 and March 2, 2008 make claims by their “victors” to have won government office in Russia illegal. That means that not only the elected “State Duma” and its deputies, not only the “president” now being elected, but now also the lower officials being appointed by this Duma and this “president” – all are illegitimate.

On the Risks to Russia

The illegitimacy of the regime is leading it to an even larger-scale use of falsifications, bribery and violence against the citizens of Russia. The creation of absolute power by this illegitimate regime – along with destroying the fundamental institutions of government and society and monopolizing all political, economic and information resources in the hands of the regime’s representatives – enormously increases the level of risk for the country and its people. The main threats today are not so much threats to the economy or people’s well-being as direct threats to people’s security and lives.

On Our Aims – Long-Term and Short-Term

The main objectives for those who consider themselves citizens of Russia will be the prevention of a national catastrophe, ensuring the security of the people, and preserving for Russian society the basic norms of human morality in more difficult less agreeable circumstances. In the final analysis, it will be impossible to achieve these objectives without the replacement of the current regime. There should be no place on Russian soil for the regime of a political and criminal thug.

On the Possibility of a Gradual Evolution of the Regime

The hopes of many that the regime might be changed by nurturing, education and persuasion have been proven baseless. All efforts at changing the regime by cooperating with its leaders have ended in failure. Those who were changed were not the chekistisiloviki [TN: political slang for former intelligence officers in positions of authority in the government]; it was not the siloviki who adopted the norms of civil society, but the representatives of the civil bureaucracy who took up the craft and habits of the siloviki. The current regime in Russia has proven itself to be incapable of internal evolution.

On Cooperation with the Regime

There should be no doubt about it: cooperation with this regime by law-abiding, civil professionals does not weaken the regime, it strengthens it. Attempts to influence officials of the regime through knowledge, argument and logic simply arm the regime intellectually and further strengthen it in the war it is waging against the citizens of Russia.

On Expectations for a Political Thaw

Expectations of a political “thaw”, a possible liberalization and democratization of the current regime in connection with a rotation of personnel in the position of president, have lost all bases. There is nothing in the personal characteristics of tomorrow’s “president” – neither in his education, world view, professional resume, past experience, degree of independence, nor amount of real authority; no sort of new demand for democratic change from the regime’s political base (intelligence officers and bureaucrats, Russian monopolists and the Western political and business leaders); and nothing in the key conditions of modern Russian society – neither in the monopoly on information, repression against opponents, nor the price of oil; there is nothing at all providing any reason to expect genuine – not just stylistic – change for the better. More likely the opposite.

On Ways to Change the Regime

In democratic societies the changeover from one political regime to another occurs as a result of elections – parliamentary or presidential. There is no point in feeding any illusions here: for the Russia of today, this path is closed. Under authoritarian systems of government, the political regime can be overthrown only by revolution, coup, or external occupation. Under conditions in which the regime has a monopoly on the law enforcement and intelligence structures, and taking into consideration the regime’s willingness to use them against peaceful citizens, any call for forcibly changing the regime is tantamount to a call for suicide.

On Violence

A call for violence would be extremely undesirable. Nonetheless, it cannot be entirely ruled out. The law-abiding citizen who is attacked by bandits has the right to self-defense. The presence or absence of uniforms on the bandits at the time of the attack does not make them guardians of order.

On Term Lengths

The terms of the current regime may turn out to be longer than they seem to be or one might hope they are today.

On Unification of the People

Attempts at survival by separate parties, organizations or groups are, in the current situation, doomed. Those few victories the people have enjoyed over the regime in the past few years have been possible only when the people were able to unite: against the monetization of allowances [TN: lgoty, generally given to pensioners or the disabled, consisting of discounted or free food, transportation, utilities, etc.], for the defense of Shcherbinskiy, in the defense of Lake Baikal. Without unity, the people cannot defend their rights in an even limited way.

On a Platform for Unification

Unification of the people of Russia is not possible on either an ideological or political basis. The people of Russia support a wide variety of viewpoints, world views, ideologies and political currents. Formation of a massive political party would be possible only with the help of a totalitarian ideology and military-like discipline, or on the basis of bureaucratic loyalty. Unification of the people can be created only on the basis of moral principles that distinguish the democratic opposition from the authoritarian regime. But unification of the people cannot be constructed solely to oppose the regime; it must have a positive aim as well.

On the Aims of Unification

In Russia today there is no goal more important and no national platform broader than the restoration of civil rights and freedoms, ensuring the primacy of law and independence of mass media, and creating a democratic political system in the country. So a working title for the unification movement might be “Civil Movement” or “Civil Coalition”.

On the Principles of a Civil Movement

The guiding principles of the Civil Movement are for democratic principles in the organization of society and governmental authority: for legal equality of all citizens in Russia, regardless of their situation in life, status, political views, nationality, creed or gender; for tolerance toward the views of others as long as they do not violate the Russian Constitution; for freedom of speech; and for honest political competition. In interactions between the people and the regime’s representatives, the guiding principles remain the rules for existence worked out by the prisoners of the Gulag: “Don’t believe (the regime). Don’t be afraid (of the regime). Don’t ask for anything (from the regime).” It would be worthwhile to add to these a fourth principle: “Don’t cooperate with the regime or participate in its dealings.”

On the Participants in a Civil Movement

Supporters of liberal, conservative, patriotic and socialist points of view could all, within the framework of a Civil Movement, cooperate with each other in the project of creating a free Russia, as long as their joint program for action does not contradict the principles of the inviolability of the individual, legal equality for all citizens, and honest, fair and democratic elections. Advancing various political agendas by participants in the coalition would be possible to the extent that they do not contradict basic civil freedoms and democratic principles for the organization of society and government.

On the West

Any expectation of support – even just moral support – for a Russian civil movement from the political leaders and governments of the West is without basis. For many Western leaders, the current regime in Russia is more convenient, comfortable and pleasant than its opponents would be. Western leaders have accumulated considerable experience in cooperating with and supporting authoritarian regimes in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The restoration of civil freedooms, legal order and democracy are matters for the Russian people themselves.

On Oil

The increase in the price of oil in recent years was not the reason for the socio-political degradation of the country, and neither will a future drop in price guarantee the civil and political emancipation of Russia. The root of the problem lies not in the molecules of oil, but in the views, ideologies and outlooks on the world that prevail among representatives of the current regime and those parts of Russian society that consider inequality of people under the law, authoritarian organization of government, and use of violence against citizens as possible, tolerable, desirable, and normal.

On Participation in the Special Operation Called “02 March 2008”

Participation by the citizens of Russia in the special operation called “02 March 2008” is unacceptable. Non-participation by citizens in the so-called “presidential elections” as a form of boycott presents the regime with an additional means for falsifying the official results. For citizens concerned about the fate of their country, not trusting the current regime and not desiring to have their own small resource used against them, have one possible course of action remaining: take the ballot home with you.

On Counting the Removed Ballots

Ballots that have been taken home can and should be counted – outside of official voting places and outside the election commission. Counting of the removed ballots is necessary not in order to show the results to the regime, or to convince them of something or mock them. It is necessary for the citizens of Russia to conduct a different election, build a different system of government power, elect a different parliament, and create a different country. Removed ballots might be exchanged for “citizens’ ballots” that could be used to elect members of a Civil Movement proto-parliament.

On the Proto-Parliament

The major project that might unify participants in the Civil Movement could be the formation of a proto-parliament through elections using “citizens’ ballots” that would be received in exchange for unused ballots from the official “presidential election” of March 2. In doing this they could draw on their experience with free elections developed during the “Other Russia” primaries in the Summer-Fall 2007 period. The main objective of the Civil Movement should be the discussion of issues associated with ensuring the security of citizens, restoration of civil freedoms, establishment of legal order, and the creation of a democratic political system in Russia.

On the Basic Program of a Civil Movement

Working out a final program for the Civil Movement will demand time and cooperative work from its participants. But several key requirements for the basic program can be formulated as follows:

1. Immediate release of all political prisoners.

2. Immediate end to all political repression.

3. Immediate elimination of all limits on the activities of the mass media.

4. Elimination of limits and prohibitions on political activities.

5. Restoration of basic civil freedoms, including the sanctity of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and freedom of assembly and association.

6. Introduction of a criminal prohibition against interference by the executive branch of government in court decisions.

7. Restoration of election laws to what they were as of December 31, 1999.

8. Cancellation of the official results from the special operations of 02 December 2007 and 02 March 2008.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov’s Call for Action, by our Original Translator

February Theses for the Citizens of Russia

Andrey Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

February 28, 2008

Recent events – the October-November Bacchanalia of an “election campaign”, the special operation called “02 December 2007”, the military-“Nashisti” occupation of Moscow on 2-6 December, and the special operation now underway known as “02 March 2008” – represent a qualitative break in the situation with Russian society and government. This new situation allows the formulation of a number of key theses.

On the Legitimacy of the Regime

The illegitimate character of the “elections” of December 2, 2007 and March 2, 2008 make claims by their “victors” to have won government office in Russia illegal. That means that not only the elected “State Duma” and its deputies, not only the “president” now being elected, but now also the lower officials being appointed by this Duma and this “president” – all are illegitimate.

On the Risks to Russia

The illegitimacy of the regime is leading it to an even larger-scale use of falsifications, bribery and violence against the citizens of Russia. The creation of absolute power by this illegitimate regime – along with destroying the fundamental institutions of government and society and monopolizing all political, economic and information resources in the hands of the regime’s representatives – enormously increases the level of risk for the country and its people. The main threats today are not so much threats to the economy or people’s well-being as direct threats to people’s security and lives.

On Our Aims – Long-Term and Short-Term

The main objectives for those who consider themselves citizens of Russia will be the prevention of a national catastrophe, ensuring the security of the people, and preserving for Russian society the basic norms of human morality in more difficult less agreeable circumstances. In the final analysis, it will be impossible to achieve these objectives without the replacement of the current regime. There should be no place on Russian soil for the regime of a political and criminal thug.

On the Possibility of a Gradual Evolution of the Regime

The hopes of many that the regime might be changed by nurturing, education and persuasion have been proven baseless. All efforts at changing the regime by cooperating with its leaders have ended in failure. Those who were changed were not the chekistisiloviki [TN: political slang for former intelligence officers in positions of authority in the government]; it was not the siloviki who adopted the norms of civil society, but the representatives of the civil bureaucracy who took up the craft and habits of the siloviki. The current regime in Russia has proven itself to be incapable of internal evolution.

On Cooperation with the Regime

There should be no doubt about it: cooperation with this regime by law-abiding, civil professionals does not weaken the regime, it strengthens it. Attempts to influence officials of the regime through knowledge, argument and logic simply arm the regime intellectually and further strengthen it in the war it is waging against the citizens of Russia.

On Expectations for a Political Thaw

Expectations of a political “thaw”, a possible liberalization and democratization of the current regime in connection with a rotation of personnel in the position of president, have lost all bases. There is nothing in the personal characteristics of tomorrow’s “president” – neither in his education, world view, professional resume, past experience, degree of independence, nor amount of real authority; no sort of new demand for democratic change from the regime’s political base (intelligence officers and bureaucrats, Russian monopolists and the Western political and business leaders); and nothing in the key conditions of modern Russian society – neither in the monopoly on information, repression against opponents, nor the price of oil; there is nothing at all providing any reason to expect genuine – not just stylistic – change for the better. More likely the opposite.

On Ways to Change the Regime

In democratic societies the changeover from one political regime to another occurs as a result of elections – parliamentary or presidential. There is no point in feeding any illusions here: for the Russia of today, this path is closed. Under authoritarian systems of government, the political regime can be overthrown only by revolution, coup, or external occupation. Under conditions in which the regime has a monopoly on the law enforcement and intelligence structures, and taking into consideration the regime’s willingness to use them against peaceful citizens, any call for forcibly changing the regime is tantamount to a call for suicide.

On Violence

A call for violence would be extremely undesirable. Nonetheless, it cannot be entirely ruled out. The law-abiding citizen who is attacked by bandits has the right to self-defense. The presence or absence of uniforms on the bandits at the time of the attack does not make them guardians of order.

On Term Lengths

The terms of the current regime may turn out to be longer than they seem to be or one might hope they are today.

On Unification of the People

Attempts at survival by separate parties, organizations or groups are, in the current situation, doomed. Those few victories the people have enjoyed over the regime in the past few years have been possible only when the people were able to unite: against the monetization of allowances [TN: lgoty, generally given to pensioners or the disabled, consisting of discounted or free food, transportation, utilities, etc.], for the defense of Shcherbinskiy, in the defense of Lake Baikal. Without unity, the people cannot defend their rights in an even limited way.

On a Platform for Unification

Unification of the people of Russia is not possible on either an ideological or political basis. The people of Russia support a wide variety of viewpoints, world views, ideologies and political currents. Formation of a massive political party would be possible only with the help of a totalitarian ideology and military-like discipline, or on the basis of bureaucratic loyalty. Unification of the people can be created only on the basis of moral principles that distinguish the democratic opposition from the authoritarian regime. But unification of the people cannot be constructed solely to oppose the regime; it must have a positive aim as well.

On the Aims of Unification

In Russia today there is no goal more important and no national platform broader than the restoration of civil rights and freedoms, ensuring the primacy of law and independence of mass media, and creating a democratic political system in the country. So a working title for the unification movement might be “Civil Movement” or “Civil Coalition”.

On the Principles of a Civil Movement

The guiding principles of the Civil Movement are for democratic principles in the organization of society and governmental authority: for legal equality of all citizens in Russia, regardless of their situation in life, status, political views, nationality, creed or gender; for tolerance toward the views of others as long as they do not violate the Russian Constitution; for freedom of speech; and for honest political competition. In interactions between the people and the regime’s representatives, the guiding principles remain the rules for existence worked out by the prisoners of the Gulag: “Don’t believe (the regime). Don’t be afraid (of the regime). Don’t ask for anything (from the regime).” It would be worthwhile to add to these a fourth principle: “Don’t cooperate with the regime or participate in its dealings.”

On the Participants in a Civil Movement

Supporters of liberal, conservative, patriotic and socialist points of view could all, within the framework of a Civil Movement, cooperate with each other in the project of creating a free Russia, as long as their joint program for action does not contradict the principles of the inviolability of the individual, legal equality for all citizens, and honest, fair and democratic elections. Advancing various political agendas by participants in the coalition would be possible to the extent that they do not contradict basic civil freedoms and democratic principles for the organization of society and government.

On the West

Any expectation of support – even just moral support – for a Russian civil movement from the political leaders and governments of the West is without basis. For many Western leaders, the current regime in Russia is more convenient, comfortable and pleasant than its opponents would be. Western leaders have accumulated considerable experience in cooperating with and supporting authoritarian regimes in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The restoration of civil freedooms, legal order and democracy are matters for the Russian people themselves.

On Oil

The increase in the price of oil in recent years was not the reason for the socio-political degradation of the country, and neither will a future drop in price guarantee the civil and political emancipation of Russia. The root of the problem lies not in the molecules of oil, but in the views, ideologies and outlooks on the world that prevail among representatives of the current regime and those parts of Russian society that consider inequality of people under the law, authoritarian organization of government, and use of violence against citizens as possible, tolerable, desirable, and normal.

On Participation in the Special Operation Called “02 March 2008”

Participation by the citizens of Russia in the special operation called “02 March 2008” is unacceptable. Non-participation by citizens in the so-called “presidential elections” as a form of boycott presents the regime with an additional means for falsifying the official results. For citizens concerned about the fate of their country, not trusting the current regime and not desiring to have their own small resource used against them, have one possible course of action remaining: take the ballot home with you.

On Counting the Removed Ballots

Ballots that have been taken home can and should be counted – outside of official voting places and outside the election commission. Counting of the removed ballots is necessary not in order to show the results to the regime, or to convince them of something or mock them. It is necessary for the citizens of Russia to conduct a different election, build a different system of government power, elect a different parliament, and create a different country. Removed ballots might be exchanged for “citizens’ ballots” that could be used to elect members of a Civil Movement proto-parliament.

On the Proto-Parliament

The major project that might unify participants in the Civil Movement could be the formation of a proto-parliament through elections using “citizens’ ballots” that would be received in exchange for unused ballots from the official “presidential election” of March 2. In doing this they could draw on their experience with free elections developed during the “Other Russia” primaries in the Summer-Fall 2007 period. The main objective of the Civil Movement should be the discussion of issues associated with ensuring the security of citizens, restoration of civil freedoms, establishment of legal order, and the creation of a democratic political system in Russia.

On the Basic Program of a Civil Movement

Working out a final program for the Civil Movement will demand time and cooperative work from its participants. But several key requirements for the basic program can be formulated as follows:

1. Immediate release of all political prisoners.

2. Immediate end to all political repression.

3. Immediate elimination of all limits on the activities of the mass media.

4. Elimination of limits and prohibitions on political activities.

5. Restoration of basic civil freedoms, including the sanctity of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and freedom of assembly and association.

6. Introduction of a criminal prohibition against interference by the executive branch of government in court decisions.

7. Restoration of election laws to what they were as of December 31, 1999.

8. Cancellation of the official results from the special operations of 02 December 2007 and 02 March 2008.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov’s Call for Action, by our Original Translator

February Theses for the Citizens of Russia

Andrey Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

February 28, 2008

Recent events – the October-November Bacchanalia of an “election campaign”, the special operation called “02 December 2007”, the military-“Nashisti” occupation of Moscow on 2-6 December, and the special operation now underway known as “02 March 2008” – represent a qualitative break in the situation with Russian society and government. This new situation allows the formulation of a number of key theses.

On the Legitimacy of the Regime

The illegitimate character of the “elections” of December 2, 2007 and March 2, 2008 make claims by their “victors” to have won government office in Russia illegal. That means that not only the elected “State Duma” and its deputies, not only the “president” now being elected, but now also the lower officials being appointed by this Duma and this “president” – all are illegitimate.

On the Risks to Russia

The illegitimacy of the regime is leading it to an even larger-scale use of falsifications, bribery and violence against the citizens of Russia. The creation of absolute power by this illegitimate regime – along with destroying the fundamental institutions of government and society and monopolizing all political, economic and information resources in the hands of the regime’s representatives – enormously increases the level of risk for the country and its people. The main threats today are not so much threats to the economy or people’s well-being as direct threats to people’s security and lives.

On Our Aims – Long-Term and Short-Term

The main objectives for those who consider themselves citizens of Russia will be the prevention of a national catastrophe, ensuring the security of the people, and preserving for Russian society the basic norms of human morality in more difficult less agreeable circumstances. In the final analysis, it will be impossible to achieve these objectives without the replacement of the current regime. There should be no place on Russian soil for the regime of a political and criminal thug.

On the Possibility of a Gradual Evolution of the Regime

The hopes of many that the regime might be changed by nurturing, education and persuasion have been proven baseless. All efforts at changing the regime by cooperating with its leaders have ended in failure. Those who were changed were not the chekistisiloviki [TN: political slang for former intelligence officers in positions of authority in the government]; it was not the siloviki who adopted the norms of civil society, but the representatives of the civil bureaucracy who took up the craft and habits of the siloviki. The current regime in Russia has proven itself to be incapable of internal evolution.

On Cooperation with the Regime

There should be no doubt about it: cooperation with this regime by law-abiding, civil professionals does not weaken the regime, it strengthens it. Attempts to influence officials of the regime through knowledge, argument and logic simply arm the regime intellectually and further strengthen it in the war it is waging against the citizens of Russia.

On Expectations for a Political Thaw

Expectations of a political “thaw”, a possible liberalization and democratization of the current regime in connection with a rotation of personnel in the position of president, have lost all bases. There is nothing in the personal characteristics of tomorrow’s “president” – neither in his education, world view, professional resume, past experience, degree of independence, nor amount of real authority; no sort of new demand for democratic change from the regime’s political base (intelligence officers and bureaucrats, Russian monopolists and the Western political and business leaders); and nothing in the key conditions of modern Russian society – neither in the monopoly on information, repression against opponents, nor the price of oil; there is nothing at all providing any reason to expect genuine – not just stylistic – change for the better. More likely the opposite.

On Ways to Change the Regime

In democratic societies the changeover from one political regime to another occurs as a result of elections – parliamentary or presidential. There is no point in feeding any illusions here: for the Russia of today, this path is closed. Under authoritarian systems of government, the political regime can be overthrown only by revolution, coup, or external occupation. Under conditions in which the regime has a monopoly on the law enforcement and intelligence structures, and taking into consideration the regime’s willingness to use them against peaceful citizens, any call for forcibly changing the regime is tantamount to a call for suicide.

On Violence

A call for violence would be extremely undesirable. Nonetheless, it cannot be entirely ruled out. The law-abiding citizen who is attacked by bandits has the right to self-defense. The presence or absence of uniforms on the bandits at the time of the attack does not make them guardians of order.

On Term Lengths

The terms of the current regime may turn out to be longer than they seem to be or one might hope they are today.

On Unification of the People

Attempts at survival by separate parties, organizations or groups are, in the current situation, doomed. Those few victories the people have enjoyed over the regime in the past few years have been possible only when the people were able to unite: against the monetization of allowances [TN: lgoty, generally given to pensioners or the disabled, consisting of discounted or free food, transportation, utilities, etc.], for the defense of Shcherbinskiy, in the defense of Lake Baikal. Without unity, the people cannot defend their rights in an even limited way.

On a Platform for Unification

Unification of the people of Russia is not possible on either an ideological or political basis. The people of Russia support a wide variety of viewpoints, world views, ideologies and political currents. Formation of a massive political party would be possible only with the help of a totalitarian ideology and military-like discipline, or on the basis of bureaucratic loyalty. Unification of the people can be created only on the basis of moral principles that distinguish the democratic opposition from the authoritarian regime. But unification of the people cannot be constructed solely to oppose the regime; it must have a positive aim as well.

On the Aims of Unification

In Russia today there is no goal more important and no national platform broader than the restoration of civil rights and freedoms, ensuring the primacy of law and independence of mass media, and creating a democratic political system in the country. So a working title for the unification movement might be “Civil Movement” or “Civil Coalition”.

On the Principles of a Civil Movement

The guiding principles of the Civil Movement are for democratic principles in the organization of society and governmental authority: for legal equality of all citizens in Russia, regardless of their situation in life, status, political views, nationality, creed or gender; for tolerance toward the views of others as long as they do not violate the Russian Constitution; for freedom of speech; and for honest political competition. In interactions between the people and the regime’s representatives, the guiding principles remain the rules for existence worked out by the prisoners of the Gulag: “Don’t believe (the regime). Don’t be afraid (of the regime). Don’t ask for anything (from the regime).” It would be worthwhile to add to these a fourth principle: “Don’t cooperate with the regime or participate in its dealings.”

On the Participants in a Civil Movement

Supporters of liberal, conservative, patriotic and socialist points of view could all, within the framework of a Civil Movement, cooperate with each other in the project of creating a free Russia, as long as their joint program for action does not contradict the principles of the inviolability of the individual, legal equality for all citizens, and honest, fair and democratic elections. Advancing various political agendas by participants in the coalition would be possible to the extent that they do not contradict basic civil freedoms and democratic principles for the organization of society and government.

On the West

Any expectation of support – even just moral support – for a Russian civil movement from the political leaders and governments of the West is without basis. For many Western leaders, the current regime in Russia is more convenient, comfortable and pleasant than its opponents would be. Western leaders have accumulated considerable experience in cooperating with and supporting authoritarian regimes in Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The restoration of civil freedooms, legal order and democracy are matters for the Russian people themselves.

On Oil

The increase in the price of oil in recent years was not the reason for the socio-political degradation of the country, and neither will a future drop in price guarantee the civil and political emancipation of Russia. The root of the problem lies not in the molecules of oil, but in the views, ideologies and outlooks on the world that prevail among representatives of the current regime and those parts of Russian society that consider inequality of people under the law, authoritarian organization of government, and use of violence against citizens as possible, tolerable, desirable, and normal.

On Participation in the Special Operation Called “02 March 2008”

Participation by the citizens of Russia in the special operation called “02 March 2008” is unacceptable. Non-participation by citizens in the so-called “presidential elections” as a form of boycott presents the regime with an additional means for falsifying the official results. For citizens concerned about the fate of their country, not trusting the current regime and not desiring to have their own small resource used against them, have one possible course of action remaining: take the ballot home with you.

On Counting the Removed Ballots

Ballots that have been taken home can and should be counted – outside of official voting places and outside the election commission. Counting of the removed ballots is necessary not in order to show the results to the regime, or to convince them of something or mock them. It is necessary for the citizens of Russia to conduct a different election, build a different system of government power, elect a different parliament, and create a different country. Removed ballots might be exchanged for “citizens’ ballots” that could be used to elect members of a Civil Movement proto-parliament.

On the Proto-Parliament

The major project that might unify participants in the Civil Movement could be the formation of a proto-parliament through elections using “citizens’ ballots” that would be received in exchange for unused ballots from the official “presidential election” of March 2. In doing this they could draw on their experience with free elections developed during the “Other Russia” primaries in the Summer-Fall 2007 period. The main objective of the Civil Movement should be the discussion of issues associated with ensuring the security of citizens, restoration of civil freedoms, establishment of legal order, and the creation of a democratic political system in Russia.

On the Basic Program of a Civil Movement

Working out a final program for the Civil Movement will demand time and cooperative work from its participants. But several key requirements for the basic program can be formulated as follows:

1. Immediate release of all political prisoners.

2. Immediate end to all political repression.

3. Immediate elimination of all limits on the activities of the mass media.

4. Elimination of limits and prohibitions on political activities.

5. Restoration of basic civil freedoms, including the sanctity of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and freedom of assembly and association.

6. Introduction of a criminal prohibition against interference by the executive branch of government in court decisions.

7. Restoration of election laws to what they were as of December 31, 1999.

8. Cancellation of the official results from the special operations of 02 December 2007 and 02 March 2008.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on Bhutto (by our Original Translator)

NOTE: The noted Russian author (shown above, right, with Benazir Bhutto, former Primer Minister of Pakistan), a former Kremlin insider, compares Russia and Pakistan, and finds that Russia is in some ways the more desperate of the two. In the forum that follows the article, several readers commented grimly that while tens of thousands of Pakistanis took to the streets to protest Bhutto’s murder, only a few hundred Russians could bestir themselves to protest their own rigged parliamentary elections.

The Word and the Bullet

Andrey Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

January 10, 2008

On December 27, 2007 Benazir Bhutto, twice the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the leader of the opposition People’s Party, and the sure victor in 2008 parliamentary elections, was assassinated in a terrorist attack in Rawalpindi.

Three months before her death Benazir Bhutto appeared before a large gathering of representatives from the American political, economic and intellectual elite. Her presentation simply captivated the auditorium. No matter what the topic, she demonstrated astonishing erudition, clarity of thought and lightning speed in her responses. And all this with a surprising sense of tact, respect for her interlocutors and conviction in her own position. With what grace she carried herself! When the thin scarf that lightly covered her head slipped momentarily to her shoulders, one simply had to see it, the genuinely royal gesture with which she replaced it!

In the hall were several former U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense, along with a number of high-ranking officials from the current Administration. The topic of discussion was U.S.Pakistan relations. Bhutto talked about the mistakes the U.S. had made in this relationship, and what heavy consequences followed from America’s support for the military regime – consequences for Pakistan, for South Asia as a whole, and America itself. One of the former U.S. Secretaries of Defense tried to object. Bhutto’s response was instantaneous, parrying the objection with several examples. And she did this with such conviction, so perfectly pointing out the horrible failures of the Pentagon’s actions in those very years when her questioner was its leader that the latter sat back down with a gloomy expression, not daring to pose any further questions.

At the end of her presentation the entire hall rose and gave Benazir Bhutto a standing ovation. One should note that the American establishment is not easily won over. It has seen it all, and is not known for its sentimentality, especially toward those who publicly flay America for its mistakes. But all five hundred participants in the event (with a total net worth of probably several hundred billion dollars) stood and applauded this brave woman in a white Muslim headscarf, finding themselves enraptured and unable to resist the genuine miracle that had just taken place before them.

One of the U.S. presidential candidates had addressed the same audience a few hours before Benazir. Without a doubt, the possible future U.S. President did not receive one-tenth the applause, attention and praise that was lavished on this former Prime Minister of a foreign country. That same evening, under the deafening roar of applause, the organizers of the conference in almost total seriousness urged Bhutto to run for president of their own country.

I talked for awhile with Benazir Bhutto. Naturally, the discussion turned to the political situation in our two countries, Pakistan and Russia. And naturally as well, we noted more than a few parallels.

Both Pakistan and Russia are large, developing countries with diversified economies and a diversity of internal regions. In both countries the intelligence services were never brought fully under control by a civilian government. In both countries for the past eight years all power has been held by intelligence and military officers. In both countries, all the institutions of modern governance – separation of powers, independence of the legislative and judicial branches, an independent press – have been systematically destroyed. Both countries have had their epic struggles against the regime – in Pakistan from the bar association, in Russia from the Yukos oil company. In both countries the main means by which the regime interacts with is people is brute, demonstrative force. In both countries there are border regions that are poorly controlled by the central government, but which the intelligence services actively use as places to iron out their methods and recruit assassins. In both countries the victims of terrorist attacks are leaders of the press and public opinion – politicians, activists and journalists. In both countries the clients and authors of contract killings are the masters of bullet and bomb.

In Pakistan they killed Benazir’s father, the former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, two of her brothers, and thousands of pro-democracy advocates.

In Russia they killed Aleksandr Men, Larisa Yudina, Galina Starovoytova, Nikolai Girenko, Sergey Yushenkov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Aleksandr Litvinenko, Yuri Chervochkin, hundreds of residents of the apartment towers blown up in Fall 1999, members of the audience in the “Nord-Ost” theater raid, schoolchildren and parents at Beslan, and tens of thousands in the Northern Caucuses. In Ukraine they killed Vyacheslav Chornovil, the leader of parliament and leading presidential candidate in 1999, and poisoned the presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko in 2004.

Terror is used against leaders of the press and public opinion because people listen to them and follow them by the thousands and millions. Because unlike intelligence agents, public opinion leaders are influential. And not only influential, but genuinely powerful as well – in their words, their convictions, and the support they receive from millions of followers. In the battle of words, the secret police are doomed. The have nothing with which to oppose the leaders of public opinion except terror. Terror is the weapon of losers, of the defeated, of those who don’t stand a chance in normal, peaceful, human life.

The word is the argument of the strong. The bullet – the argument of the weak. The question most frequently asked of Bhutto by participants at the event three months ago was, “Won’t it be dangerous for you to return to Pakistan?” Benazir invariably replied: “I cannot not return. They are waiting for me at home.” These words reflect the main difference between the leaders of public opinion and the Masters of Cloak, Dagger and Bullet. People await the first. The second need only themselves. The first are flooded with letters. But no one writes to the Colonels (intelligence officers). The first are remembered with gratitude and reverence. The second are cursed for eternity.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on the Elections (by our Original Translator)

The Beginnings of a Catastrophe

Andrei Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

November 30, 2007

A year and a half ago, it was a question of premonitions of a catastrophe. One and a half months ago – prologue to a catastrophe. And now – its beginning. A year and a half ago, applying the word “catastrophe” to the near future of Russia might still have been called an exaggeration. But current events have proven, unfortunately, that this is the right word for it.

One of the key events launching this catastrophe is what is sometimes called the “elections of December 2”. The so-called “election campaign” that is now winding up is reminiscent of two previous campaigns – the one that took place in the USSR before elections to the Supreme Soviet on December 12, 1937, and the one that took place in Germany before the Reichstag elections of March 5, 1933. All three campaigns – the two previous and the one current – have in common the manner in which the authorities conducted themselves: with massive violations of the law, including laws adopted by the very same authorities; theatric shows with elements of psychosis; the prevention of political opponents from participating in the elections; and intimidation, violence and terror – right up to the jailing of political opponents. While the degree of viciousness and scale of the authorities’ illegal actions still falls short of events in the USSR and Germany seventy years ago, there can be no doubt about the direction in which the present regime is evolving.

Considering what has happened in recent months, what will take place on December 2 cannot be called parliamentary elections in the classical sense of the word. These are not an expression of the will of the people. They are not even a referendum on the people’s trust in Vladimir Putin. December 2 is nothing but a special operation.

In this special operation the main participants from the authorities’ side – “YedRo” [TN: abbreviation for the party United Russia, or Yedinaya Rossiya], “zaputintsi” [TN: members of the “For Putin” movement], “nashisti” [TN: members of the Nashi youth movement] – did not act independently. They were all bit players, albeit at a low level, not knowing or poorly understanding what they were being used for, and how they will be used tomorrow.

The degree of unwittingness and lack of understanding about what is going on, demonstrated not only by the propagandists close to the authorities, but also by high-ranking officials in the regime itself, including the leaders of both houses of parliament, both prime ministers – the recently retired and the recently appointed – and the two “successors”, shows that they as well are just bit players.

For the citizens of Russia themselves, it is important to understand the main objectives, inevitable results, and unavoidable consequences of this special operation.

The main objective of the December 2 operation is the legitimization of the regime. Not only and not so much the regime that has been formed up to now, but also the regime that will be formed in the coming months. The process of destroying the institutions of modern governance and society – an independent parliament, independent judiciary, a large part of the free media, autonomous governorships, a professional civil service and even the Presidential Administration – once begun cannot be immediately stopped. Moreover, this process will inevitably be continued.

First in line will be the intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the corruption of which has been especially accelerated of late. Their transformation from being utterly ineffective but previously at least government agencies into criminal structures will continue at a full speed. Powerful government and criminal structures will unite to visit violence upon the citizenry. These structures will differ only in the manner in which they apply their violence – with reference to the law or without. Non-observance of the law, ignoring it and violating it, will turn government intelligence and law enforcement structures into organized criminal gangs.

One consequence of the destruction of the institutions of modern governance and society will be the concentration of power into the hands of a steadily smaller group of people, to the point of just one person – the creation of absolute power; subordination of the principles of inviolability of one’s person, dwelling, property, and the transfer of property, making them all conditional upon constantly-changing and forever multiplying conditions; the deformation of rules at work in both government and society; and the destruction of even informal but well-established and widely recognized procedures.

An inevitable result of this de-institutionalizing of government and society will be a shortening of the planning horizon; the elimination of the individual’s sense of independence and responsibility; widespread suspicion, instability, ungovernability and unpredictability in the following of decisions that have been made, and the refusal to adopt them. Unpredictability in decisions, actions and deeds will apply not only to the mass of government bureaucrats, to say nothing of the wider public, but also to members of the groups in power.

Not only in their behavior and commentaries, but even in their facial expressions, the Russian government ministers, the so-called “heirs”, after the removal of the number-two figure in the hierarchy of power – the Prime Minister – and the naming of a new prime minister, gave testimony to the arrival of a new phase in the process of de-institutionalization: the contraction of the circle of decision makers to the absolute minimum and the final elimination of even informal procedures for making decisions – the transition from institutions of any sort (formal or informal) to their complete absence. It is no longer possible to predict the next move of the authorities, not only for the millions of Russian citizens, not only for the semi-professional political consultants engaged in the sacred business of deciphering the “laws of the heavens”, but even for the narrow group of people who until recently made the decisions themselves. This radical reduction in the number of participants in the political process having even the smallest degree of independence increases incredibly the risks facing Russia.

One example of this de-institutionalization is the destruction before our very eyes of the institution for the transfer of power. The very imperfect but essentially democratic procedures that existed in Russia in the 1990’s have been de facto eliminated, with nothing to replace them – neither party, nor group, nor even of a dynastic character. No procedures at all have come into being, even of the type characteristic of an authoritarian regime.

For example, even in the USSR, which was by no means a democratic country, a certain procedure was worked out in the years following the death of Stalin for the transfer of power, and this procedure was applied without any conflict in 1982, 1983 and 1985. The selection process allowed for both the formation of groups and alliances among members of the Central Committee and Politburo, as well as a genuine process for electing a General Secretary, who held very significant but not absolute power. Members of the Politburo enjoyed considerable autonomy, and held genuine discussions at meetings. And disagreements between members of the Politburo and General Secretary did not lead to repressions.

The elimination of institutions for the transfer of power that has taken place in recent months significantly increases the risk of a violent resolution of the succession issue, the risk of a violent overthrow of the government, and the risk as well of repressions against both real and potential participants in such an overthrow.

The elimination of traditional institutions for organizing government and society increases demand for substitutes, a role that is filled by the threat of terror, the seriousness of which can be established only by real repressions – mass or selective. The evolutionary logic of the de-institutionalizing regime inevitably requires the search for and locating of enemies – of the people, the party, the ruler. The current president’s widening campaign against “enemies”, following the logic of the political process, will inevitably require a transition from irregular applications of violence against individuals “harmful to the regime”, to the introduction of systematic repression.

The list of “enemies” and, therefore, the victims of such a repression, have already been named: the “West”, political and ideological opponents, and parts of the government bureaucracy. Regarding the West, it hardly needs to worry about anything fundamentally new, beyond an aggressive propaganda campaign, diplomatic conflict, and the next flare-ups of energy and cyber wars. In contrast to the “West”, two other groups of “enemies” find themselves directly “under the hand” of the regime, and can soon expect to receive their blows.

Regarding the opposition, the campaign of repression against its representatives is quickly gathering speed, both in the breadth of its sweep and the scale and harshness of measures taken. As for the bureaucracy, it too should soon have its turn. Due to its access to the levers of power, the bureaucracy presents a real threat to the current political regime. The logic of the process demands it be purged. The 1933 elections in Germany led to the “Night of the Long Knives” (Nacht der langen Messer) in 1934, against the leadership of the the Storm Battalion (Sturmabteilung) led by Ernst Röhm; and after the 1937 elections in the USSR came the repression of 1938 against the organizers and executors of the “Great Terror”, led by the head of the NKVD, Nikolai Yezhov.

That the regime is already prepared for the systematic application of repressive measures against both the opposition and the bureaucracy can be seen not only in the imprisonment of Garry Kasparaov and hundreds of other participants in political protests, but also in what happened to Deputy Minister of Finance Sergey Storchak and Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Service Aleksandr Bulbov.

But what is important is not what the coming catastrophe holds for members of the ruling regime, nor for the bureaucracy, nor even for members of the political opposition. The main thing is what it holds for the common citizens.

In point of fact, these possible consequences only slightly concern their economic well-being. Historically, repressions have not always been accompanied by immediate economic crises, and sometimes have taken place against a background of marked economic growth. From 2000-2007, during a period when the institutions of modern governance were being dismantled in Russia, Russian GDP grew by 69.5%. During the period when the regimes of Stalin in the USSR and Hitler in Germany were being legitimized, these economies grew by 69.1% and 69.6%, respectively. The rate of economic growth in Germany and the USSR in the 1930’s exceeded the world growth rate by 2.4 times. The rate of growth in Russian GDP in the first decade of the twenty-first century has exceeded the world rate by 2.38 times.

The main thing is what the coming catastrophe holds for the security and life of everyday citizens. Evidence of the price that people and the country will pay for the widening institutional catastrophe can be seen in events so far removed from politics, apparently, as the consequences of natural disasters, for example the storm that hit Kerchenskiy Bay on November 11, 2007. Although the storm hit equally hard on both the Russian and Ukrainian shores, and both the Russian port of Kavkaz and the Ukrainian port of Kerch, the damage to the Russian side was much greater. All the sailors who died during the storm were on ships in the Russian port of Kavkaz, and all five of the ships that suffered collisions and all 8 of the ships that ran aground did not receive permission to leave the danger zone from exactly the Russian port authority. In other instances of natural disaster, differences in the number of those killed (for example, in the floods of 2003 in Europe and the Northern Caucuses: Germany – 1, Czech Republic – 7, Russia – 132) and the scale of damage could be explained by differences in the level of economic development in the affected countries. In the case of the Kerchenskiy storm, however, this explanation does not work – Ukraine currently is poorer than Russia. But what in various situations may be called sloppiness, irresponsibility or human error, represents the work of institutions for the protection of human lives and property. And those institutions in impoverished but democratic Ukraine today work better than in richer but authoritarian Russia. Human lives are sacrificed in Russia nowadays not by nature but by the regime’s destruction of the institutions of modern civilization.

There can be no doubt about the prospects for the new regime that will be legitimized on December 2 – it is archaic and historically doomed. Political regimes based on the vertical organization of society, on rule by force and terror, lose out to political regimes based on horizontal organization, tolerance, and competition in economic and political spheres. The great civilizations of the East, powerful governments based on vertically organized societies – from Egypt to Assyria, from Mesopotamia to Persia – surpassed by far the governments of the West at that time in accumulation of wealth and development in science and culture, but were swept away by history. What remains of them is only the ruins of their capital cities. The more impoverished, but differently – horizontally – organized societies of the West not only survived but achieved an historic victory, but not over the East, but over an ineffective system for organizing society, government and the economy. The post-war rise of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong – and in recent decades India and mainland China – is proceeding in large part on the basis of institutions for horizontal competition imported from the West.

Unlike the final prospects for the current Russian regime – which are clear – three questions remain unanswered:

1) How long will this regime persist;

2) What price will Russia pay for its existence; and

3) How many casualties will the citizens of Russia bear before it is eliminated.

The analysis of the current regime runs up against difficulties associated with its fairly rapid evolution, as well as the absence of obvious historical analogies and the limited usefulness of standard analytic tools. Although many similar characteristics can be found in various authoritarian dictatorships of the past, the current Russian regime also has its own peculiarities. The presence of a strange organization called the “United Russia” party makes neither it a ruling party, nor the regime a Party-based dictatorship, like the Communist USSR or Fascist Germany. The exceptional situation of quasi-governmental corporations, intended for redistribution of national economic resources into the hands of their owners, does not make this a corporate regime, like the governments of Italy, Spain and Portugal during the middle of the last century. The ruling status of representatives of the Order of Hook-Carriers and Hook-Worshipers does not make this a government based on an Order, like the Templar Knights or the Teutonic Knights, or the Order-based government of Prussia.

The search for a political regime resembling the current one in Russia inevitably leads the researcher to the shores of Sicily and the Italian Peninsula. Social organizations specializing in the application of force are not limited only to governments, armies, secret services and private security firms. They also include organized criminal groups. (The point here is not, of course, to insult or humiliate anyone, but to use these terms in a purely analytic way – to describe certain clearly defined models of social behavior.) The difference between the former groups and the latter is only that the latter type use force in ways not limited by the law, even the most incomplete law. In his time, Saint Augustine noted precisely the parentage of such power structures (siloviye strukturi) : “A government unbound by justice is nothing but a band of thieves.”

But certain disappointment awaits the researcher here as well. In the presence of an ever greater quantity and quality of comparisons between the current Russian regime and the most well-known criminal societies – the Italian “Cosa Nostra”, “Camorra”, “Ndrangheta”, the Chinese “Triads”, the Russian “Thieves in the Law” – one must nonetheless acknowledge that substantial differences remain. The Mafia has its own principles, rules, codes of conduct – cruel, monstrous and intolerable though they are to civilized citizens. But these rules exist, and the leadership and members of criminal societies in most cases abide by them. What is happening in today’s Russia poorly resembles the observance of rules and codes of conduct, no matter how loathsome they may be. The current situation in Russia would seem more to resemble an unstable gang of urban rabble, characterized by an instability of temper and unpredictability in behavior – by relations that seem very friendly until the unexpected blow of a dagger.

Regardless of how well the nature of the current regime is understood, the issue remains on the agenda: What in this situation are the citizens of Russia to do?

It is worthwhile here to recall the rules that should be followed when normal people are forced to interact with rabble. One of them is to minimize the risk of meeting, contacting or associating with its representatives. Another is not to participate in the rabble’s affairs. The third amounts to the basic rules for survival in new, to put it mildly unpleasant conditions. In the words of Varlam Shalamov, their essence was best summed up by prisoners in the Gulags more than a half-century ago: “Don’t believe. Don’t fear. Don’t ask for anything.”

Illarionov on Friedman

Writing in the Moscow Times, Andrei Illarionov, former economic adviser to President Vladimir Putin, president of the Institute of Economic Analysis and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, remembers Milton Friedman.

When Milton Friedman died one year ago on Nov. 16, the world was inundated with remembrances and reflections of the most influential economist of the last century. “There are many Nobel Prize laureates in economics,” former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan once said, “but few have achieved the mythical status of Milton Friedman.” The world lost a great economist and, as most obituaries emphasized, the world lost a great American economist. Why the emphasis on American?

Of course, a genuine scholar does not belong to one country but to all of mankind. In the world of academics and science, there are no national borders. Nonetheless, the host country of an outstanding academic gains a unique victory. This has less to do with “national pride” than it does with the contribution the extraordinary scholar makes to his home country — to his colleagues and students, to the general exchange of ideas and to society as a whole.

In theory, Friedman could have become a Russian economist if his parents, who were born in the small Carpathian Ukrainian town of Berehove, did not emigrate to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, but instead stayed in the former Soviet Union. History, of course, is written in the past tense only. But it is nevertheless interesting to pose the question, “Could Friedman have worked the same wonders in Russia?”

The honest answer to that question is disappointing. In the last century in the Soviet Union and Russia, there was virtually no chance for some of the world’s greatest creative minds to survive, develop and prosper. Although the factors that decide who will be a genius are not written in stone, there are certain objective criteria that are necessary for a person to develop his talents: good family, quality education, challenging work, an intellectual circle of friends and colleagues, the ability to travel and to share knowledge with foreign colleagues, the ability to express one’s opinion freely, an open exchange of ideas and society’s general recognition of the scholar’s talent and achievements.

It would be difficult to overstate the principal difference between the study of economics in the United States and in the Soviet Union. Even in the late 1970s and early 1980s, an economics professor who wrote a study on a seemingly harmless subject like price determination, for example, could have easily been fired. Thus, Friedman’s study of the nature of money and its significance would have definitely meant, at a minimum, that he would have been banned from his profession — or much worse. Friedman’s passionate preaching of the virtues of free-market economics, liberal democracy, personal freedom, and his opposition to the military draft, would have been classified in the Soviet Union as anti-government or even traitorous behavior.

It is difficult to fathom what colossal intellectual resources were destroyed in the Soviet Union and Russia because of the fundamental lack of freedom in society — including the inability to think and express one’s opinions freely.

There are huge differences between Russian and Soviet economists and their U.S. counterparts. This concerns not only the difference in pay, or access to scholarly literature and professional contact with other economists, which are some of the most important components of what constitutes intellectual freedom. U.S. economists also have higher life expectancy than their counterparts.

It is also not surprising that since 1969, of the 61 laureates of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, 47 are from the United States, and only one is from the former Soviet Union. Of the 18 laureates of the Nobel Prize in Economics who moved permanently to a new country from their place of birth, 15 of them moved to the United States, and several left countries such as Britain, Germany, France and Italy. Two of these laureates, Russian-born Simon Kuznets and Vasily Leontyev, emigrated to the United States, which probably saved their lives. This, one could say, is a vivid example of leading global scholars “voting with their minds and feet” by moving to a country that offered the type of intellectual freedom necessary to prosper.

There is another side to the issue of freedom: the contribution that scholars make to the development of the country to which they emigrated. Of course, this contribution is made not only by Nobel laureates, economists or other scholars, but also by every new immigrant. Whoever these immigrants are, whatever they do professionally, in the overwhelming majority of cases they make a direct contribution to their new country of residence, making the nation even more free, wealthy and successful.

At the end of the 19th century, when Friedman’s parents made their journey from provincial Ukraine to Brooklyn, Russia’s population (based on the territory of the modern-day Russian Federation) was 66 million people, which was 3 percent lower than that of the U.S. population of 69 million. In 1912, when Friedman was born in the United States, the difference in population between the two countries had grown to 8 percent. In 2006, when Friedman died, the population gap was more than 52 percent — 142 million people in Russia versus 298 million people in the United States. The yawning gap is even more pronounced in economic indicators. In 1894, Russia’s gross domestic product was 39 percent of the U.S. GDP. In 1912, it had dropped to 26 percent, and in 2006, Russia’s GDP had dropped even more to 13 percent of the U.S. GDP.

Of course, free countries are not free of their own problems. They also have crises and catastrophes. Their elected leaders make serious mistakes and commit crimes. But in contrast to autocratic countries, in free countries serious problems are not ignored or swept under the carpet. As a rule, opposition politicians, the mass media and civil society as a whole in free countries investigate problems like the misuse of power or corruption, and they take concrete measures to correct them. Mediocre and incompetent leaders are usually swept out of office in elections. And in those cases when politicians and bureaucrats are found criminally negligent or liable, they most likely will end up in prison. But in authoritarian countries, government officials are rarely held accountable.

Freedom is a wonderful thing, whether it is economic, political or intellectual in nature. Citizens who are able to work in a liberal and free environment — where the rule of law is an unbiased regulator and guarantor of stability, fairness and open competition — are able to create tremendous tangible and intellectual wealth. It is sometimes hard to fathom how much wealth is created in free societies. Authoritarian societies, on the other hand, can never produce as much wealth as free societies, regardless of their rich natural resources, the number of nuclear missiles or the amount of hard-currency reserves in their central bank. In authoritarian countries, there is monopoly control of information and power, but this is not sufficient to create wealth through violence, fear or terror. Slavery — whether it is economic, political or intellectual — is doomed historically to chronic backwardness.

I once asked Friedman and his wife, Rose, who is also a leading economist in her own right, if they would have had the same views on individual freedom and free-market economics had they lived in Russia.Their answer was a firm no. Every time I think about their answer, my rational side coldly recognizes the fact that Rose and Milton Friedman were correct. Had they tried to live their professional lives in the Soviet Union, their unique talents — and perhaps their lives — would have been lost to the huge detriment of the entire world.

When Friedman’s parents arrived in the United States, his mother, Sara Landau, started to sell goods at a tiny shop outlet. No one asked her about her previous citizenship as a condition for employment. In Russia, however, authorities have recently placed quotas on employing “non-native” nationalities in retail trade. The most serious problem in modern-day Russia is neither the lack of investment or the “resource curse.” Its most fundamental problem is that there are few places for people. This is true not only in universities, which could be producing new Nobel laureates, but it is even true for would-be laureates’ parents, who are seeking work in open-air markets.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on Russia’s Future

La Russophobe‘s original translator offers yet another indispensible installment from the brilliant pen of Andrei Illarionov, who knows the Putin regime from the inside and is the last best hope to save Russia from the ashcan of history. This is the article that formed the basis for Cyrill Vatomsky’s wonderful and devastating critique of the Putin regime which we cross-published yesterday.

Russia Will Not Enter the Top Five Economies By 2020 On Its Current Course

Andrei Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

June 27, 2007

Apparently the intoxicated air of the White Nights and black-tie riverboat dinners played cruel tricks on some of the participants in the recent Petersburg Economic Forum [June 8-10, 2007]. The sheer volume of inaccuracies, distortions and absurdities uttered at the form could only invite humor.

A high bar was set by former president of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn, who asserted that “since 1995 Russian GDP has increased by five times, after declining by 50% from 1991 to 1995.” One would think that for the former head of the respected international organization there could be no secrets in the statistical data of the world’s countries. But apparently there were.

If the current head of the board of directors of Citigroup has a problem accessing the Internet, then perhaps he could inquire with the statistical department of his own bank, turn to his colleagues at the IMF, or as a last resort take an interest in the work of the Russian Federal Statistical Service. Anyone there would be glad to answer him precisely: from 1991-1995 Russian GDP declined by 34.6%, and from 1995-2006 it grew by 55.6%. It may be that James Wolfensohn is, as [Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade] German Gref has called him, a friend, but the truth is more valuable.

The switching of concepts in the speech of the Russian President was much more refined: “In the first quarter of this year direct foreign investment in the Russian economy rose by two and half times compared to the previous year. And accumulated foreign investment reached $150 billion.” The listener might have gotten the impression that the last figure related to the direct foreign investment that was mentioned in the first sentence. But that would be incorrect. The $151 billion figure was the total amount, as of April 1, 2007, of all foreign investment – not only direct, but also portfolio (investment in equities and shares totaling less than 10% of a company’s total capital, and the purchase of bonds, notes and other promissory paper), as well as other investments (such as trade credits and credits to the government).

The only true indicator of a country’s attractiveness for investment is direct private investment. As of April 1, 2007 it totaled $73 billion in Russia. This is a significant amount. However, if we compare it with the size of the Russian economy, it looks rather modest – only about 7% of GDP. Not including direct foreign investment in energy the figure is even smaller – just 4.5% of GDP. By way of comparison: in Ukraine accumulated foreign investment exceeds 19% of GDP; in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland it is 25%; in Georgia, 42%; and in Estonia it is 59% of GDP.

Proclamations of a macroeconomic type opened a whole new frontier of humor. “If 50 years ago 60% of world GDP originated in the Big Seven countries, today it is the opposite: around 60% of world GDP comes from countries outside their borders,” continued the Russian President. It is true that in 2006 the share of the Big Seven countries totaled 41% of world GDP. But it is also true that 50 years ago the Big Seven produced not 60% but 51% of world GDP. Hence the reduction in their share of the world economy over the past 50 years declined from 51% to 41%, or by one-fifth – not nearly as sharply as depicted in the Russian President’s speech.

Of course, one could gloat over the decline in the weight of the Big Seven in the world economy. But it would be worthwhile to first consider how the place of Russia itself has changed in the world. In comparison with the Big Seven, the relative weight of Russian GDP over the past 50 years has declined from 12.1% to 6.3%, and in comparison with world GDP it has fallen from 6.2% to 2.5% – that is, by two and a half times. Now that is a shift of a truly tectonic nature. And it is hard to argue with the President when he says that “the world has truly changed, literally before our eyes.”

But even these pronouncements paled against the forecasts. Mr. Wolfensohn “promised” that “the economies of Russia and the developing countries will grow 20 times by 2050, while the developed countries will grow by only 2.5 times.” Even if that could happen, a better illustration of the embellishment “We too ploughed” [TN: said of someone who makes overly much of his modest contribution] could hardly be found. That the economies of China, India and other developing countries may reach the size of the current Big Seven economies has not been a secret to anyone for a long time. The challenge this presents to Russia would be well worth considering.

But there was no time for such considerations in Saint Petersburg. Otherwise the predictions of a twenty-fold growth rate in the economic prospects of Russia could hardly have come to light. For a country with a population that is shrinking at the rate of Russia’s, a 20-fold increase in GDP would require a 25-fold increase in GDP per capita. How could this be achieved even theoretically, if in all of world history there has never been such a rate of growth for a country with a population of more than 1 million souls? The world record holders for economic growth rate, which have come to symbolize “economic miracles”, look much different: over 43 years, the growth rate in Japan in per capita GDP was 10 times; in Korea – 12 times; in Taiwan – 13 times; in China – 17 times.

If one were to rely on the official forecasts of the World Bank and IMF, then even extrapolating a continuation of the unprecedented high growth rate of the past few years for the world economy, the GDP growth rate in the developing countries by 2050 is unlikely to exceed 8 times, while that of the developed countries would be five times.

The height of pseudo-scientific futurology was achieved in the presentation by Russian First Vice-Minister Sergei Ivanov: “By 2020 Russia’s GDP will place it in the top five economies of the world”, and “Russian per capita GDP in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) will amount to $30,000 on the basis of 2005 prices.” First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev agreed with this assertion.

Alas, the promises made by the candidate-successors [to President Putin] will never come true. And not just because in order for the per capita GDP per person in Russia to reach $30,000 it would have to reach 50% of the per capita GDP of the most developed countries of the world (especially the U.S.), which has never happened in 150 years of Russian history. And not even on the doubtful basis of extrapolating a constant high growth rate for Russia and low growth rate for Europe.

The problem is that higher economic growth rates require a completely different institutional environment. The growth rate depends not only and not so much on the volume of investment – international or domestic – as on the condition of social and government institutions – private property rights, division of government powers, freedom of mass media, independence of the judiciary, civil rights, political rights, and legal order.

World history knows of not a single case in which a country not having energy revenues and being unfree (in the sense of political rights, civil freedoms, legal order and defense of property rights) achieved a GDP of even $17,000 per person. For countries with energy revenues the insurmountable barrier has been somewhat higher, but is nonetheless far short $30,000.

Alas, present-day Russia is just such an unfree country, and the situation with its key social and governmental institutions excludes the possibility of its entry into the group of the most developed countries.

The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its oil industry, but as a result of the government’s breakup of Yukos, and other swindles, the annual growth rate in oil extraction has fallen from 13% to 2%. The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its gas segment, but independent gas producers are being crushed by Gazprom, which has increased production over the past eight years by only 0.6%. The Russian economy might have grown quicker on account of its manufacturing sectors. But not a single sector of Russian manufacturing (with the exception of gas) has to this day exceeded the production levels achieved even in the time of the Soviet Union. For example, Russian machine building is now only one-half what it was in the time of the Soviet Union. So perhaps we should consider as an economic success for 2020 not the entry of Russia into the group of the top five economies of the world, but simply the resurrection of the volume of machine building to the level seen in 1990.

Russia nonetheless still has a chance to become a developed, attractive and respected country. But for this to happen much has to be done. Including a lot that will directly contradict what is being done by current forecasters of our “bright future”. Russia has a chance, if it is ruled not by lawlessness but legal order. If all our citizens become genuinely equal before the law, if the judiciary deals with criminal conduct irrespective of whether it is by an entrepreneur, an officer of the FSB, or the son of a First Prime Minister. If government companies can refrain from stealing the property of others, strangling independent producers, and in the end are de-monopolized. If billions of dollars stop flowing from the pockets of Russian taxpayers into endless national project boondoggles, “miracle-weapons” and government “nanotechnologies”.

Russia can save its historical chance if the current political path, being pursued by both Vice Prime Ministers, is curtailed. But Russia has no chance if it continues on this path.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on Russia’s Future

La Russophobe‘s original translator offers yet another indispensible installment from the brilliant pen of Andrei Illarionov, who knows the Putin regime from the inside and is the last best hope to save Russia from the ashcan of history. This is the article that formed the basis for Cyrill Vatomsky’s wonderful and devastating critique of the Putin regime which we cross-published yesterday.

Russia Will Not Enter the Top Five Economies By 2020 On Its Current Course

Andrei Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

June 27, 2007

Apparently the intoxicated air of the White Nights and black-tie riverboat dinners played cruel tricks on some of the participants in the recent Petersburg Economic Forum [June 8-10, 2007]. The sheer volume of inaccuracies, distortions and absurdities uttered at the form could only invite humor.

A high bar was set by former president of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn, who asserted that “since 1995 Russian GDP has increased by five times, after declining by 50% from 1991 to 1995.” One would think that for the former head of the respected international organization there could be no secrets in the statistical data of the world’s countries. But apparently there were.

If the current head of the board of directors of Citigroup has a problem accessing the Internet, then perhaps he could inquire with the statistical department of his own bank, turn to his colleagues at the IMF, or as a last resort take an interest in the work of the Russian Federal Statistical Service. Anyone there would be glad to answer him precisely: from 1991-1995 Russian GDP declined by 34.6%, and from 1995-2006 it grew by 55.6%. It may be that James Wolfensohn is, as [Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade] German Gref has called him, a friend, but the truth is more valuable.

The switching of concepts in the speech of the Russian President was much more refined: “In the first quarter of this year direct foreign investment in the Russian economy rose by two and half times compared to the previous year. And accumulated foreign investment reached $150 billion.” The listener might have gotten the impression that the last figure related to the direct foreign investment that was mentioned in the first sentence. But that would be incorrect. The $151 billion figure was the total amount, as of April 1, 2007, of all foreign investment – not only direct, but also portfolio (investment in equities and shares totaling less than 10% of a company’s total capital, and the purchase of bonds, notes and other promissory paper), as well as other investments (such as trade credits and credits to the government).

The only true indicator of a country’s attractiveness for investment is direct private investment. As of April 1, 2007 it totaled $73 billion in Russia. This is a significant amount. However, if we compare it with the size of the Russian economy, it looks rather modest – only about 7% of GDP. Not including direct foreign investment in energy the figure is even smaller – just 4.5% of GDP. By way of comparison: in Ukraine accumulated foreign investment exceeds 19% of GDP; in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland it is 25%; in Georgia, 42%; and in Estonia it is 59% of GDP.

Proclamations of a macroeconomic type opened a whole new frontier of humor. “If 50 years ago 60% of world GDP originated in the Big Seven countries, today it is the opposite: around 60% of world GDP comes from countries outside their borders,” continued the Russian President. It is true that in 2006 the share of the Big Seven countries totaled 41% of world GDP. But it is also true that 50 years ago the Big Seven produced not 60% but 51% of world GDP. Hence the reduction in their share of the world economy over the past 50 years declined from 51% to 41%, or by one-fifth – not nearly as sharply as depicted in the Russian President’s speech.

Of course, one could gloat over the decline in the weight of the Big Seven in the world economy. But it would be worthwhile to first consider how the place of Russia itself has changed in the world. In comparison with the Big Seven, the relative weight of Russian GDP over the past 50 years has declined from 12.1% to 6.3%, and in comparison with world GDP it has fallen from 6.2% to 2.5% – that is, by two and a half times. Now that is a shift of a truly tectonic nature. And it is hard to argue with the President when he says that “the world has truly changed, literally before our eyes.”

But even these pronouncements paled against the forecasts. Mr. Wolfensohn “promised” that “the economies of Russia and the developing countries will grow 20 times by 2050, while the developed countries will grow by only 2.5 times.” Even if that could happen, a better illustration of the embellishment “We too ploughed” [TN: said of someone who makes overly much of his modest contribution] could hardly be found. That the economies of China, India and other developing countries may reach the size of the current Big Seven economies has not been a secret to anyone for a long time. The challenge this presents to Russia would be well worth considering.

But there was no time for such considerations in Saint Petersburg. Otherwise the predictions of a twenty-fold growth rate in the economic prospects of Russia could hardly have come to light. For a country with a population that is shrinking at the rate of Russia’s, a 20-fold increase in GDP would require a 25-fold increase in GDP per capita. How could this be achieved even theoretically, if in all of world history there has never been such a rate of growth for a country with a population of more than 1 million souls? The world record holders for economic growth rate, which have come to symbolize “economic miracles”, look much different: over 43 years, the growth rate in Japan in per capita GDP was 10 times; in Korea – 12 times; in Taiwan – 13 times; in China – 17 times.

If one were to rely on the official forecasts of the World Bank and IMF, then even extrapolating a continuation of the unprecedented high growth rate of the past few years for the world economy, the GDP growth rate in the developing countries by 2050 is unlikely to exceed 8 times, while that of the developed countries would be five times.

The height of pseudo-scientific futurology was achieved in the presentation by Russian First Vice-Minister Sergei Ivanov: “By 2020 Russia’s GDP will place it in the top five economies of the world”, and “Russian per capita GDP in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) will amount to $30,000 on the basis of 2005 prices.” First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev agreed with this assertion.

Alas, the promises made by the candidate-successors [to President Putin] will never come true. And not just because in order for the per capita GDP per person in Russia to reach $30,000 it would have to reach 50% of the per capita GDP of the most developed countries of the world (especially the U.S.), which has never happened in 150 years of Russian history. And not even on the doubtful basis of extrapolating a constant high growth rate for Russia and low growth rate for Europe.

The problem is that higher economic growth rates require a completely different institutional environment. The growth rate depends not only and not so much on the volume of investment – international or domestic – as on the condition of social and government institutions – private property rights, division of government powers, freedom of mass media, independence of the judiciary, civil rights, political rights, and legal order.

World history knows of not a single case in which a country not having energy revenues and being unfree (in the sense of political rights, civil freedoms, legal order and defense of property rights) achieved a GDP of even $17,000 per person. For countries with energy revenues the insurmountable barrier has been somewhat higher, but is nonetheless far short $30,000.

Alas, present-day Russia is just such an unfree country, and the situation with its key social and governmental institutions excludes the possibility of its entry into the group of the most developed countries.

The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its oil industry, but as a result of the government’s breakup of Yukos, and other swindles, the annual growth rate in oil extraction has fallen from 13% to 2%. The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its gas segment, but independent gas producers are being crushed by Gazprom, which has increased production over the past eight years by only 0.6%. The Russian economy might have grown quicker on account of its manufacturing sectors. But not a single sector of Russian manufacturing (with the exception of gas) has to this day exceeded the production levels achieved even in the time of the Soviet Union. For example, Russian machine building is now only one-half what it was in the time of the Soviet Union. So perhaps we should consider as an economic success for 2020 not the entry of Russia into the group of the top five economies of the world, but simply the resurrection of the volume of machine building to the level seen in 1990.

Russia nonetheless still has a chance to become a developed, attractive and respected country. But for this to happen much has to be done. Including a lot that will directly contradict what is being done by current forecasters of our “bright future”. Russia has a chance, if it is ruled not by lawlessness but legal order. If all our citizens become genuinely equal before the law, if the judiciary deals with criminal conduct irrespective of whether it is by an entrepreneur, an officer of the FSB, or the son of a First Prime Minister. If government companies can refrain from stealing the property of others, strangling independent producers, and in the end are de-monopolized. If billions of dollars stop flowing from the pockets of Russian taxpayers into endless national project boondoggles, “miracle-weapons” and government “nanotechnologies”.

Russia can save its historical chance if the current political path, being pursued by both Vice Prime Ministers, is curtailed. But Russia has no chance if it continues on this path.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on Russia’s Future

La Russophobe‘s original translator offers yet another indispensible installment from the brilliant pen of Andrei Illarionov, who knows the Putin regime from the inside and is the last best hope to save Russia from the ashcan of history. This is the article that formed the basis for Cyrill Vatomsky’s wonderful and devastating critique of the Putin regime which we cross-published yesterday.

Russia Will Not Enter the Top Five Economies By 2020 On Its Current Course

Andrei Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

June 27, 2007

Apparently the intoxicated air of the White Nights and black-tie riverboat dinners played cruel tricks on some of the participants in the recent Petersburg Economic Forum [June 8-10, 2007]. The sheer volume of inaccuracies, distortions and absurdities uttered at the form could only invite humor.

A high bar was set by former president of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn, who asserted that “since 1995 Russian GDP has increased by five times, after declining by 50% from 1991 to 1995.” One would think that for the former head of the respected international organization there could be no secrets in the statistical data of the world’s countries. But apparently there were.

If the current head of the board of directors of Citigroup has a problem accessing the Internet, then perhaps he could inquire with the statistical department of his own bank, turn to his colleagues at the IMF, or as a last resort take an interest in the work of the Russian Federal Statistical Service. Anyone there would be glad to answer him precisely: from 1991-1995 Russian GDP declined by 34.6%, and from 1995-2006 it grew by 55.6%. It may be that James Wolfensohn is, as [Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade] German Gref has called him, a friend, but the truth is more valuable.

The switching of concepts in the speech of the Russian President was much more refined: “In the first quarter of this year direct foreign investment in the Russian economy rose by two and half times compared to the previous year. And accumulated foreign investment reached $150 billion.” The listener might have gotten the impression that the last figure related to the direct foreign investment that was mentioned in the first sentence. But that would be incorrect. The $151 billion figure was the total amount, as of April 1, 2007, of all foreign investment – not only direct, but also portfolio (investment in equities and shares totaling less than 10% of a company’s total capital, and the purchase of bonds, notes and other promissory paper), as well as other investments (such as trade credits and credits to the government).

The only true indicator of a country’s attractiveness for investment is direct private investment. As of April 1, 2007 it totaled $73 billion in Russia. This is a significant amount. However, if we compare it with the size of the Russian economy, it looks rather modest – only about 7% of GDP. Not including direct foreign investment in energy the figure is even smaller – just 4.5% of GDP. By way of comparison: in Ukraine accumulated foreign investment exceeds 19% of GDP; in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland it is 25%; in Georgia, 42%; and in Estonia it is 59% of GDP.

Proclamations of a macroeconomic type opened a whole new frontier of humor. “If 50 years ago 60% of world GDP originated in the Big Seven countries, today it is the opposite: around 60% of world GDP comes from countries outside their borders,” continued the Russian President. It is true that in 2006 the share of the Big Seven countries totaled 41% of world GDP. But it is also true that 50 years ago the Big Seven produced not 60% but 51% of world GDP. Hence the reduction in their share of the world economy over the past 50 years declined from 51% to 41%, or by one-fifth – not nearly as sharply as depicted in the Russian President’s speech.

Of course, one could gloat over the decline in the weight of the Big Seven in the world economy. But it would be worthwhile to first consider how the place of Russia itself has changed in the world. In comparison with the Big Seven, the relative weight of Russian GDP over the past 50 years has declined from 12.1% to 6.3%, and in comparison with world GDP it has fallen from 6.2% to 2.5% – that is, by two and a half times. Now that is a shift of a truly tectonic nature. And it is hard to argue with the President when he says that “the world has truly changed, literally before our eyes.”

But even these pronouncements paled against the forecasts. Mr. Wolfensohn “promised” that “the economies of Russia and the developing countries will grow 20 times by 2050, while the developed countries will grow by only 2.5 times.” Even if that could happen, a better illustration of the embellishment “We too ploughed” [TN: said of someone who makes overly much of his modest contribution] could hardly be found. That the economies of China, India and other developing countries may reach the size of the current Big Seven economies has not been a secret to anyone for a long time. The challenge this presents to Russia would be well worth considering.

But there was no time for such considerations in Saint Petersburg. Otherwise the predictions of a twenty-fold growth rate in the economic prospects of Russia could hardly have come to light. For a country with a population that is shrinking at the rate of Russia’s, a 20-fold increase in GDP would require a 25-fold increase in GDP per capita. How could this be achieved even theoretically, if in all of world history there has never been such a rate of growth for a country with a population of more than 1 million souls? The world record holders for economic growth rate, which have come to symbolize “economic miracles”, look much different: over 43 years, the growth rate in Japan in per capita GDP was 10 times; in Korea – 12 times; in Taiwan – 13 times; in China – 17 times.

If one were to rely on the official forecasts of the World Bank and IMF, then even extrapolating a continuation of the unprecedented high growth rate of the past few years for the world economy, the GDP growth rate in the developing countries by 2050 is unlikely to exceed 8 times, while that of the developed countries would be five times.

The height of pseudo-scientific futurology was achieved in the presentation by Russian First Vice-Minister Sergei Ivanov: “By 2020 Russia’s GDP will place it in the top five economies of the world”, and “Russian per capita GDP in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) will amount to $30,000 on the basis of 2005 prices.” First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev agreed with this assertion.

Alas, the promises made by the candidate-successors [to President Putin] will never come true. And not just because in order for the per capita GDP per person in Russia to reach $30,000 it would have to reach 50% of the per capita GDP of the most developed countries of the world (especially the U.S.), which has never happened in 150 years of Russian history. And not even on the doubtful basis of extrapolating a constant high growth rate for Russia and low growth rate for Europe.

The problem is that higher economic growth rates require a completely different institutional environment. The growth rate depends not only and not so much on the volume of investment – international or domestic – as on the condition of social and government institutions – private property rights, division of government powers, freedom of mass media, independence of the judiciary, civil rights, political rights, and legal order.

World history knows of not a single case in which a country not having energy revenues and being unfree (in the sense of political rights, civil freedoms, legal order and defense of property rights) achieved a GDP of even $17,000 per person. For countries with energy revenues the insurmountable barrier has been somewhat higher, but is nonetheless far short $30,000.

Alas, present-day Russia is just such an unfree country, and the situation with its key social and governmental institutions excludes the possibility of its entry into the group of the most developed countries.

The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its oil industry, but as a result of the government’s breakup of Yukos, and other swindles, the annual growth rate in oil extraction has fallen from 13% to 2%. The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its gas segment, but independent gas producers are being crushed by Gazprom, which has increased production over the past eight years by only 0.6%. The Russian economy might have grown quicker on account of its manufacturing sectors. But not a single sector of Russian manufacturing (with the exception of gas) has to this day exceeded the production levels achieved even in the time of the Soviet Union. For example, Russian machine building is now only one-half what it was in the time of the Soviet Union. So perhaps we should consider as an economic success for 2020 not the entry of Russia into the group of the top five economies of the world, but simply the resurrection of the volume of machine building to the level seen in 1990.

Russia nonetheless still has a chance to become a developed, attractive and respected country. But for this to happen much has to be done. Including a lot that will directly contradict what is being done by current forecasters of our “bright future”. Russia has a chance, if it is ruled not by lawlessness but legal order. If all our citizens become genuinely equal before the law, if the judiciary deals with criminal conduct irrespective of whether it is by an entrepreneur, an officer of the FSB, or the son of a First Prime Minister. If government companies can refrain from stealing the property of others, strangling independent producers, and in the end are de-monopolized. If billions of dollars stop flowing from the pockets of Russian taxpayers into endless national project boondoggles, “miracle-weapons” and government “nanotechnologies”.

Russia can save its historical chance if the current political path, being pursued by both Vice Prime Ministers, is curtailed. But Russia has no chance if it continues on this path.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on Russia’s Future

La Russophobe‘s original translator offers yet another indispensible installment from the brilliant pen of Andrei Illarionov, who knows the Putin regime from the inside and is the last best hope to save Russia from the ashcan of history. This is the article that formed the basis for Cyrill Vatomsky’s wonderful and devastating critique of the Putin regime which we cross-published yesterday.

Russia Will Not Enter the Top Five Economies By 2020 On Its Current Course

Andrei Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

June 27, 2007

Apparently the intoxicated air of the White Nights and black-tie riverboat dinners played cruel tricks on some of the participants in the recent Petersburg Economic Forum [June 8-10, 2007]. The sheer volume of inaccuracies, distortions and absurdities uttered at the form could only invite humor.

A high bar was set by former president of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn, who asserted that “since 1995 Russian GDP has increased by five times, after declining by 50% from 1991 to 1995.” One would think that for the former head of the respected international organization there could be no secrets in the statistical data of the world’s countries. But apparently there were.

If the current head of the board of directors of Citigroup has a problem accessing the Internet, then perhaps he could inquire with the statistical department of his own bank, turn to his colleagues at the IMF, or as a last resort take an interest in the work of the Russian Federal Statistical Service. Anyone there would be glad to answer him precisely: from 1991-1995 Russian GDP declined by 34.6%, and from 1995-2006 it grew by 55.6%. It may be that James Wolfensohn is, as [Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade] German Gref has called him, a friend, but the truth is more valuable.

The switching of concepts in the speech of the Russian President was much more refined: “In the first quarter of this year direct foreign investment in the Russian economy rose by two and half times compared to the previous year. And accumulated foreign investment reached $150 billion.” The listener might have gotten the impression that the last figure related to the direct foreign investment that was mentioned in the first sentence. But that would be incorrect. The $151 billion figure was the total amount, as of April 1, 2007, of all foreign investment – not only direct, but also portfolio (investment in equities and shares totaling less than 10% of a company’s total capital, and the purchase of bonds, notes and other promissory paper), as well as other investments (such as trade credits and credits to the government).

The only true indicator of a country’s attractiveness for investment is direct private investment. As of April 1, 2007 it totaled $73 billion in Russia. This is a significant amount. However, if we compare it with the size of the Russian economy, it looks rather modest – only about 7% of GDP. Not including direct foreign investment in energy the figure is even smaller – just 4.5% of GDP. By way of comparison: in Ukraine accumulated foreign investment exceeds 19% of GDP; in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland it is 25%; in Georgia, 42%; and in Estonia it is 59% of GDP.

Proclamations of a macroeconomic type opened a whole new frontier of humor. “If 50 years ago 60% of world GDP originated in the Big Seven countries, today it is the opposite: around 60% of world GDP comes from countries outside their borders,” continued the Russian President. It is true that in 2006 the share of the Big Seven countries totaled 41% of world GDP. But it is also true that 50 years ago the Big Seven produced not 60% but 51% of world GDP. Hence the reduction in their share of the world economy over the past 50 years declined from 51% to 41%, or by one-fifth – not nearly as sharply as depicted in the Russian President’s speech.

Of course, one could gloat over the decline in the weight of the Big Seven in the world economy. But it would be worthwhile to first consider how the place of Russia itself has changed in the world. In comparison with the Big Seven, the relative weight of Russian GDP over the past 50 years has declined from 12.1% to 6.3%, and in comparison with world GDP it has fallen from 6.2% to 2.5% – that is, by two and a half times. Now that is a shift of a truly tectonic nature. And it is hard to argue with the President when he says that “the world has truly changed, literally before our eyes.”

But even these pronouncements paled against the forecasts. Mr. Wolfensohn “promised” that “the economies of Russia and the developing countries will grow 20 times by 2050, while the developed countries will grow by only 2.5 times.” Even if that could happen, a better illustration of the embellishment “We too ploughed” [TN: said of someone who makes overly much of his modest contribution] could hardly be found. That the economies of China, India and other developing countries may reach the size of the current Big Seven economies has not been a secret to anyone for a long time. The challenge this presents to Russia would be well worth considering.

But there was no time for such considerations in Saint Petersburg. Otherwise the predictions of a twenty-fold growth rate in the economic prospects of Russia could hardly have come to light. For a country with a population that is shrinking at the rate of Russia’s, a 20-fold increase in GDP would require a 25-fold increase in GDP per capita. How could this be achieved even theoretically, if in all of world history there has never been such a rate of growth for a country with a population of more than 1 million souls? The world record holders for economic growth rate, which have come to symbolize “economic miracles”, look much different: over 43 years, the growth rate in Japan in per capita GDP was 10 times; in Korea – 12 times; in Taiwan – 13 times; in China – 17 times.

If one were to rely on the official forecasts of the World Bank and IMF, then even extrapolating a continuation of the unprecedented high growth rate of the past few years for the world economy, the GDP growth rate in the developing countries by 2050 is unlikely to exceed 8 times, while that of the developed countries would be five times.

The height of pseudo-scientific futurology was achieved in the presentation by Russian First Vice-Minister Sergei Ivanov: “By 2020 Russia’s GDP will place it in the top five economies of the world”, and “Russian per capita GDP in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) will amount to $30,000 on the basis of 2005 prices.” First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev agreed with this assertion.

Alas, the promises made by the candidate-successors [to President Putin] will never come true. And not just because in order for the per capita GDP per person in Russia to reach $30,000 it would have to reach 50% of the per capita GDP of the most developed countries of the world (especially the U.S.), which has never happened in 150 years of Russian history. And not even on the doubtful basis of extrapolating a constant high growth rate for Russia and low growth rate for Europe.

The problem is that higher economic growth rates require a completely different institutional environment. The growth rate depends not only and not so much on the volume of investment – international or domestic – as on the condition of social and government institutions – private property rights, division of government powers, freedom of mass media, independence of the judiciary, civil rights, political rights, and legal order.

World history knows of not a single case in which a country not having energy revenues and being unfree (in the sense of political rights, civil freedoms, legal order and defense of property rights) achieved a GDP of even $17,000 per person. For countries with energy revenues the insurmountable barrier has been somewhat higher, but is nonetheless far short $30,000.

Alas, present-day Russia is just such an unfree country, and the situation with its key social and governmental institutions excludes the possibility of its entry into the group of the most developed countries.

The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its oil industry, but as a result of the government’s breakup of Yukos, and other swindles, the annual growth rate in oil extraction has fallen from 13% to 2%. The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its gas segment, but independent gas producers are being crushed by Gazprom, which has increased production over the past eight years by only 0.6%. The Russian economy might have grown quicker on account of its manufacturing sectors. But not a single sector of Russian manufacturing (with the exception of gas) has to this day exceeded the production levels achieved even in the time of the Soviet Union. For example, Russian machine building is now only one-half what it was in the time of the Soviet Union. So perhaps we should consider as an economic success for 2020 not the entry of Russia into the group of the top five economies of the world, but simply the resurrection of the volume of machine building to the level seen in 1990.

Russia nonetheless still has a chance to become a developed, attractive and respected country. But for this to happen much has to be done. Including a lot that will directly contradict what is being done by current forecasters of our “bright future”. Russia has a chance, if it is ruled not by lawlessness but legal order. If all our citizens become genuinely equal before the law, if the judiciary deals with criminal conduct irrespective of whether it is by an entrepreneur, an officer of the FSB, or the son of a First Prime Minister. If government companies can refrain from stealing the property of others, strangling independent producers, and in the end are de-monopolized. If billions of dollars stop flowing from the pockets of Russian taxpayers into endless national project boondoggles, “miracle-weapons” and government “nanotechnologies”.

Russia can save its historical chance if the current political path, being pursued by both Vice Prime Ministers, is curtailed. But Russia has no chance if it continues on this path.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on Russia’s Future

La Russophobe‘s original translator offers yet another indispensible installment from the brilliant pen of Andrei Illarionov, who knows the Putin regime from the inside and is the last best hope to save Russia from the ashcan of history. This is the article that formed the basis for Cyrill Vatomsky’s wonderful and devastating critique of the Putin regime which we cross-published yesterday.

Russia Will Not Enter the Top Five Economies By 2020 On Its Current Course

Andrei Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

June 27, 2007

Apparently the intoxicated air of the White Nights and black-tie riverboat dinners played cruel tricks on some of the participants in the recent Petersburg Economic Forum [June 8-10, 2007]. The sheer volume of inaccuracies, distortions and absurdities uttered at the form could only invite humor.

A high bar was set by former president of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn, who asserted that “since 1995 Russian GDP has increased by five times, after declining by 50% from 1991 to 1995.” One would think that for the former head of the respected international organization there could be no secrets in the statistical data of the world’s countries. But apparently there were.

If the current head of the board of directors of Citigroup has a problem accessing the Internet, then perhaps he could inquire with the statistical department of his own bank, turn to his colleagues at the IMF, or as a last resort take an interest in the work of the Russian Federal Statistical Service. Anyone there would be glad to answer him precisely: from 1991-1995 Russian GDP declined by 34.6%, and from 1995-2006 it grew by 55.6%. It may be that James Wolfensohn is, as [Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade] German Gref has called him, a friend, but the truth is more valuable.

The switching of concepts in the speech of the Russian President was much more refined: “In the first quarter of this year direct foreign investment in the Russian economy rose by two and half times compared to the previous year. And accumulated foreign investment reached $150 billion.” The listener might have gotten the impression that the last figure related to the direct foreign investment that was mentioned in the first sentence. But that would be incorrect. The $151 billion figure was the total amount, as of April 1, 2007, of all foreign investment – not only direct, but also portfolio (investment in equities and shares totaling less than 10% of a company’s total capital, and the purchase of bonds, notes and other promissory paper), as well as other investments (such as trade credits and credits to the government).

The only true indicator of a country’s attractiveness for investment is direct private investment. As of April 1, 2007 it totaled $73 billion in Russia. This is a significant amount. However, if we compare it with the size of the Russian economy, it looks rather modest – only about 7% of GDP. Not including direct foreign investment in energy the figure is even smaller – just 4.5% of GDP. By way of comparison: in Ukraine accumulated foreign investment exceeds 19% of GDP; in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland it is 25%; in Georgia, 42%; and in Estonia it is 59% of GDP.

Proclamations of a macroeconomic type opened a whole new frontier of humor. “If 50 years ago 60% of world GDP originated in the Big Seven countries, today it is the opposite: around 60% of world GDP comes from countries outside their borders,” continued the Russian President. It is true that in 2006 the share of the Big Seven countries totaled 41% of world GDP. But it is also true that 50 years ago the Big Seven produced not 60% but 51% of world GDP. Hence the reduction in their share of the world economy over the past 50 years declined from 51% to 41%, or by one-fifth – not nearly as sharply as depicted in the Russian President’s speech.

Of course, one could gloat over the decline in the weight of the Big Seven in the world economy. But it would be worthwhile to first consider how the place of Russia itself has changed in the world. In comparison with the Big Seven, the relative weight of Russian GDP over the past 50 years has declined from 12.1% to 6.3%, and in comparison with world GDP it has fallen from 6.2% to 2.5% – that is, by two and a half times. Now that is a shift of a truly tectonic nature. And it is hard to argue with the President when he says that “the world has truly changed, literally before our eyes.”

But even these pronouncements paled against the forecasts. Mr. Wolfensohn “promised” that “the economies of Russia and the developing countries will grow 20 times by 2050, while the developed countries will grow by only 2.5 times.” Even if that could happen, a better illustration of the embellishment “We too ploughed” [TN: said of someone who makes overly much of his modest contribution] could hardly be found. That the economies of China, India and other developing countries may reach the size of the current Big Seven economies has not been a secret to anyone for a long time. The challenge this presents to Russia would be well worth considering.

But there was no time for such considerations in Saint Petersburg. Otherwise the predictions of a twenty-fold growth rate in the economic prospects of Russia could hardly have come to light. For a country with a population that is shrinking at the rate of Russia’s, a 20-fold increase in GDP would require a 25-fold increase in GDP per capita. How could this be achieved even theoretically, if in all of world history there has never been such a rate of growth for a country with a population of more than 1 million souls? The world record holders for economic growth rate, which have come to symbolize “economic miracles”, look much different: over 43 years, the growth rate in Japan in per capita GDP was 10 times; in Korea – 12 times; in Taiwan – 13 times; in China – 17 times.

If one were to rely on the official forecasts of the World Bank and IMF, then even extrapolating a continuation of the unprecedented high growth rate of the past few years for the world economy, the GDP growth rate in the developing countries by 2050 is unlikely to exceed 8 times, while that of the developed countries would be five times.

The height of pseudo-scientific futurology was achieved in the presentation by Russian First Vice-Minister Sergei Ivanov: “By 2020 Russia’s GDP will place it in the top five economies of the world”, and “Russian per capita GDP in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) will amount to $30,000 on the basis of 2005 prices.” First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev agreed with this assertion.

Alas, the promises made by the candidate-successors [to President Putin] will never come true. And not just because in order for the per capita GDP per person in Russia to reach $30,000 it would have to reach 50% of the per capita GDP of the most developed countries of the world (especially the U.S.), which has never happened in 150 years of Russian history. And not even on the doubtful basis of extrapolating a constant high growth rate for Russia and low growth rate for Europe.

The problem is that higher economic growth rates require a completely different institutional environment. The growth rate depends not only and not so much on the volume of investment – international or domestic – as on the condition of social and government institutions – private property rights, division of government powers, freedom of mass media, independence of the judiciary, civil rights, political rights, and legal order.

World history knows of not a single case in which a country not having energy revenues and being unfree (in the sense of political rights, civil freedoms, legal order and defense of property rights) achieved a GDP of even $17,000 per person. For countries with energy revenues the insurmountable barrier has been somewhat higher, but is nonetheless far short $30,000.

Alas, present-day Russia is just such an unfree country, and the situation with its key social and governmental institutions excludes the possibility of its entry into the group of the most developed countries.

The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its oil industry, but as a result of the government’s breakup of Yukos, and other swindles, the annual growth rate in oil extraction has fallen from 13% to 2%. The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its gas segment, but independent gas producers are being crushed by Gazprom, which has increased production over the past eight years by only 0.6%. The Russian economy might have grown quicker on account of its manufacturing sectors. But not a single sector of Russian manufacturing (with the exception of gas) has to this day exceeded the production levels achieved even in the time of the Soviet Union. For example, Russian machine building is now only one-half what it was in the time of the Soviet Union. So perhaps we should consider as an economic success for 2020 not the entry of Russia into the group of the top five economies of the world, but simply the resurrection of the volume of machine building to the level seen in 1990.

Russia nonetheless still has a chance to become a developed, attractive and respected country. But for this to happen much has to be done. Including a lot that will directly contradict what is being done by current forecasters of our “bright future”. Russia has a chance, if it is ruled not by lawlessness but legal order. If all our citizens become genuinely equal before the law, if the judiciary deals with criminal conduct irrespective of whether it is by an entrepreneur, an officer of the FSB, or the son of a First Prime Minister. If government companies can refrain from stealing the property of others, strangling independent producers, and in the end are de-monopolized. If billions of dollars stop flowing from the pockets of Russian taxpayers into endless national project boondoggles, “miracle-weapons” and government “nanotechnologies”.

Russia can save its historical chance if the current political path, being pursued by both Vice Prime Ministers, is curtailed. But Russia has no chance if it continues on this path.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on Russia’s Future

La Russophobe‘s original translator offers yet another indispensible installment from the brilliant pen of Andrei Illarionov, who knows the Putin regime from the inside and is the last best hope to save Russia from the ashcan of history. This is the article that formed the basis for Cyrill Vatomsky’s wonderful and devastating critique of the Putin regime which we cross-published yesterday.

Russia Will Not Enter the Top Five Economies By 2020 On Its Current Course

Andrei Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

June 27, 2007

Apparently the intoxicated air of the White Nights and black-tie riverboat dinners played cruel tricks on some of the participants in the recent Petersburg Economic Forum [June 8-10, 2007]. The sheer volume of inaccuracies, distortions and absurdities uttered at the form could only invite humor.

A high bar was set by former president of the World Bank James D. Wolfensohn, who asserted that “since 1995 Russian GDP has increased by five times, after declining by 50% from 1991 to 1995.” One would think that for the former head of the respected international organization there could be no secrets in the statistical data of the world’s countries. But apparently there were.

If the current head of the board of directors of Citigroup has a problem accessing the Internet, then perhaps he could inquire with the statistical department of his own bank, turn to his colleagues at the IMF, or as a last resort take an interest in the work of the Russian Federal Statistical Service. Anyone there would be glad to answer him precisely: from 1991-1995 Russian GDP declined by 34.6%, and from 1995-2006 it grew by 55.6%. It may be that James Wolfensohn is, as [Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade] German Gref has called him, a friend, but the truth is more valuable.

The switching of concepts in the speech of the Russian President was much more refined: “In the first quarter of this year direct foreign investment in the Russian economy rose by two and half times compared to the previous year. And accumulated foreign investment reached $150 billion.” The listener might have gotten the impression that the last figure related to the direct foreign investment that was mentioned in the first sentence. But that would be incorrect. The $151 billion figure was the total amount, as of April 1, 2007, of all foreign investment – not only direct, but also portfolio (investment in equities and shares totaling less than 10% of a company’s total capital, and the purchase of bonds, notes and other promissory paper), as well as other investments (such as trade credits and credits to the government).

The only true indicator of a country’s attractiveness for investment is direct private investment. As of April 1, 2007 it totaled $73 billion in Russia. This is a significant amount. However, if we compare it with the size of the Russian economy, it looks rather modest – only about 7% of GDP. Not including direct foreign investment in energy the figure is even smaller – just 4.5% of GDP. By way of comparison: in Ukraine accumulated foreign investment exceeds 19% of GDP; in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland it is 25%; in Georgia, 42%; and in Estonia it is 59% of GDP.

Proclamations of a macroeconomic type opened a whole new frontier of humor. “If 50 years ago 60% of world GDP originated in the Big Seven countries, today it is the opposite: around 60% of world GDP comes from countries outside their borders,” continued the Russian President. It is true that in 2006 the share of the Big Seven countries totaled 41% of world GDP. But it is also true that 50 years ago the Big Seven produced not 60% but 51% of world GDP. Hence the reduction in their share of the world economy over the past 50 years declined from 51% to 41%, or by one-fifth – not nearly as sharply as depicted in the Russian President’s speech.

Of course, one could gloat over the decline in the weight of the Big Seven in the world economy. But it would be worthwhile to first consider how the place of Russia itself has changed in the world. In comparison with the Big Seven, the relative weight of Russian GDP over the past 50 years has declined from 12.1% to 6.3%, and in comparison with world GDP it has fallen from 6.2% to 2.5% – that is, by two and a half times. Now that is a shift of a truly tectonic nature. And it is hard to argue with the President when he says that “the world has truly changed, literally before our eyes.”

But even these pronouncements paled against the forecasts. Mr. Wolfensohn “promised” that “the economies of Russia and the developing countries will grow 20 times by 2050, while the developed countries will grow by only 2.5 times.” Even if that could happen, a better illustration of the embellishment “We too ploughed” [TN: said of someone who makes overly much of his modest contribution] could hardly be found. That the economies of China, India and other developing countries may reach the size of the current Big Seven economies has not been a secret to anyone for a long time. The challenge this presents to Russia would be well worth considering.

But there was no time for such considerations in Saint Petersburg. Otherwise the predictions of a twenty-fold growth rate in the economic prospects of Russia could hardly have come to light. For a country with a population that is shrinking at the rate of Russia’s, a 20-fold increase in GDP would require a 25-fold increase in GDP per capita. How could this be achieved even theoretically, if in all of world history there has never been such a rate of growth for a country with a population of more than 1 million souls? The world record holders for economic growth rate, which have come to symbolize “economic miracles”, look much different: over 43 years, the growth rate in Japan in per capita GDP was 10 times; in Korea – 12 times; in Taiwan – 13 times; in China – 17 times.

If one were to rely on the official forecasts of the World Bank and IMF, then even extrapolating a continuation of the unprecedented high growth rate of the past few years for the world economy, the GDP growth rate in the developing countries by 2050 is unlikely to exceed 8 times, while that of the developed countries would be five times.

The height of pseudo-scientific futurology was achieved in the presentation by Russian First Vice-Minister Sergei Ivanov: “By 2020 Russia’s GDP will place it in the top five economies of the world”, and “Russian per capita GDP in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) will amount to $30,000 on the basis of 2005 prices.” First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev agreed with this assertion.

Alas, the promises made by the candidate-successors [to President Putin] will never come true. And not just because in order for the per capita GDP per person in Russia to reach $30,000 it would have to reach 50% of the per capita GDP of the most developed countries of the world (especially the U.S.), which has never happened in 150 years of Russian history. And not even on the doubtful basis of extrapolating a constant high growth rate for Russia and low growth rate for Europe.

The problem is that higher economic growth rates require a completely different institutional environment. The growth rate depends not only and not so much on the volume of investment – international or domestic – as on the condition of social and government institutions – private property rights, division of government powers, freedom of mass media, independence of the judiciary, civil rights, political rights, and legal order.

World history knows of not a single case in which a country not having energy revenues and being unfree (in the sense of political rights, civil freedoms, legal order and defense of property rights) achieved a GDP of even $17,000 per person. For countries with energy revenues the insurmountable barrier has been somewhat higher, but is nonetheless far short $30,000.

Alas, present-day Russia is just such an unfree country, and the situation with its key social and governmental institutions excludes the possibility of its entry into the group of the most developed countries.

The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its oil industry, but as a result of the government’s breakup of Yukos, and other swindles, the annual growth rate in oil extraction has fallen from 13% to 2%. The Russian economy might have grown more quickly on account of its gas segment, but independent gas producers are being crushed by Gazprom, which has increased production over the past eight years by only 0.6%. The Russian economy might have grown quicker on account of its manufacturing sectors. But not a single sector of Russian manufacturing (with the exception of gas) has to this day exceeded the production levels achieved even in the time of the Soviet Union. For example, Russian machine building is now only one-half what it was in the time of the Soviet Union. So perhaps we should consider as an economic success for 2020 not the entry of Russia into the group of the top five economies of the world, but simply the resurrection of the volume of machine building to the level seen in 1990.

Russia nonetheless still has a chance to become a developed, attractive and respected country. But for this to happen much has to be done. Including a lot that will directly contradict what is being done by current forecasters of our “bright future”. Russia has a chance, if it is ruled not by lawlessness but legal order. If all our citizens become genuinely equal before the law, if the judiciary deals with criminal conduct irrespective of whether it is by an entrepreneur, an officer of the FSB, or the son of a First Prime Minister. If government companies can refrain from stealing the property of others, strangling independent producers, and in the end are de-monopolized. If billions of dollars stop flowing from the pockets of Russian taxpayers into endless national project boondoggles, “miracle-weapons” and government “nanotechnologies”.

Russia can save its historical chance if the current political path, being pursued by both Vice Prime Ministers, is curtailed. But Russia has no chance if it continues on this path.

Illarionov on Yeltsin

Writing in the Moscow Times, Andrei Illarionov, former economic policy advisor to President Vladimir Putin and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, remembers Boris Yeltsin:

Boris Yeltsin lived and died a free man.

The most important things he did in his life he accomplished on his own, right from the banya he built one log at a time with his own hands for his grandfather as a young man, to giving up his place in the Kremlin on the last day of the 20th century. This kind of independence is the mark of a free person.

Yeltsin was a dissident. Brought up in a family that had suffered Stalinist repression, he lived his whole life in defiance of it. In 1986, against all of the rules and traditions of Party bigwigs, he took to the streets alone to tour Moscow’s trolley buses and stores, with no escort or fanfare. In the summer of 1991 he ordered the pilot of the plane bringing him back from Kazakhstan to land at a different airport, thus allowing himself and those around him to elude capture by the KGB agents waiting at the planned landing place. On Aug. 19 of that year, against the advice of his assistants and advisers he went to the White House, despite the uncertainty and real possibility that he could be killed.

Dissidence is a sign of a free person.

Yeltsin answered for his deeds. Both for his great accomplishments — the victory over communism, the peaceful dissolution of the empire, the liberation of the economy and the introduction of a democratic constitution — and for his gravest mistakes — Order 1400, which dissolved the parliament in 1993, the first war in Chechnya and the falsification of the State Duma elections in 1996. He didn’t hide behind anyone or try to shift the blame. He didn’t just talk about taking responsibility — he took it. Not only for his own errors, but for those of others. He didn’t try to hide moments of incompetence, make excuses for his weaknesses or resort to meanness in blaming others. He took all of the responsibility on himself. Whether it was for those who lost their lives defending the White House, for hyperinflation and economic decline or the horrors of war, he took the heat for others, and paid for it with a fall in his own support and popularity.

To be able to shoulder responsibility and bear up under its weight is the sign of a free person.

Yeltsin made mistakes and, in keeping with his character, they were enormous. But he turned out to be the rare Russian politician who wasn’t afraid to admit to them and, when possible, fix them. From the demolition of the Ipatiyev house in Yekaterinburg where Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed came the erection of a monument on the same site. He began the first Chechen war and brought it to an end. As he left office, he apologized to the Russian people.

The ability to accept responsibility for your errors is a sign of real strength, and this kind of strength can only belong to a free person.

Despite his strong political instincts, Yeltsin could be remarkably naive. He could believe sincerely in the invulnerability of the ruble on the very eve of the 1998 devaluation, for example. But no matter how mocking, grinding and baseless the attacks in the press became, he never targeted them with a word of political rebuke or tried to restrict the activities of journalists.

Freedom of speech is only understood and valued by a truly free person. The idea of freedom of speech was central for Yeltsin.

Yeltsin loved and clung to power. It’s hard to imagine anyone who fought so hard to achieve power and then to retain it. For him, it was a rare and valuable instrument. Its value was in what it could be used to achieve, and not just for itself. He didn’t become a slave to power. He was greater than power.

Yeltsin needed power to use it for Russia. It was as if there was nothing he wasn’t willing to do for the country. In striving for its freedom and prosperity, he performed great feats and made tragic mistakes. He clung to power and then surrendered it for Russia. He pulled the country out of communism, out of empire and out of its past — for the future. He pushed it forward, toward civilization, openness and freedom.

Every person creates in his own image, and it impossible for an unfree person to create a free society. Russia is free because Yeltsin and those around him in 1991 were already free.

For his dear Russians, the result was always either something wonderful or something catastrophic. Perhaps he didn’t have the necessary education, vision or experience. But it is clear now that this small-town boy from the Urals showed more consistency, patriotism and human decency than any graduate of a big-city university.

No slave can be a patriot. A slave belongs to money, assets, corporations, friends or power itself. A patriot belongs only to his country. Patriotism is in the character of a free person.

Yeltsin spent his whole presidency looking for a successor — not to defend Yeltsin’s interests, but those of the country. Prior to the 1998 economic crisis, he looked for this figure among his young economists. All of them, from Yegor Gaidar to Sergei Kiriyenko, failed the test. Following the crash, his focus shifted to young members of the security services, all of whom failed the test even more quickly. Vladimir Putin, the eighth figure to be examined, looked like the best of the lot. The choice was made and Putin was given everything: power, resources, emotional support and so on. Most of all, he was given one important and heartfelt command: “Take care of Russia.”

But initial doubts eventually turned to questions, and these questions ultimately turned into objections. Yeltsin reacted painfully to the betrayal not of himself, but of Russia. But there was nothing he could do to halt the march backward. His private concerns and his public appeals were cut off quickly. It had turned into his biggest mistake.

All that had been done in those years, in the course of an immense struggle that claimed so many victims, was lost. Everything created by Yeltsin in the name of Russian freedom has been systematically and methodically destroyed.

What could he do once the awful mistake had already been made? When nobody was guilty aside from Yeltsin himself? When he no longer had the power, health, time or even the opportunity to speak out and try to reverse the error. What could he do? Could he just sit back and listen to, tolerate and resign himself to what was happening? Could he have reconciled himself to it and, by his silent agreement, sanction the destruction of the free Russia he had created? That would have meant fighting for freedom all your life and, at the end of it all, helping bury it. Not a chance. Yeltsin refused to play along. Trapped at a dead end, Yeltsin found a way out — the exit for a free person.

Yeltsin made the most important decision in his life himself. His heart couldn’t stand the pain of today’s Russia.

So he left.

As a sign of protest

As a sign of refusual.

As a sign that he would not accept what was happening to in the country.

He never surrendered his freedom to anyone. He remained free. Forever. A free man of a free Russia.


Another Original Translation: Illarionov on Failing Russia

La Russophobe is delighted to have received the services of a third expert translator of Russian, Mr. David Essel. Dave offers the following translation of another article from the Russian press by Andrei Illarionov (pictured), following up on last week’s “Approaching Zimbabwe (Dave is also providing us with his own original analysis of the Russia question, starting with last week’s essay on Leonid Brezhnev; look for a second essay from Dave on Tuesday, dealing with the Russophile “mind”set).

Note how Illiarionov, surely one of Russia’s greatest living patriots, makes reference to a number of statistics on Russian peformance previously reported by La Russophobe. Maybe he’s a reader too! We’d be honored.

The Authoritarian Model of Governance:
Preliminary Results

Andrei Illiarionov

April 2, 2007

Kommersant


(A. Illarionov is the President of the Moscow Institute for Economic Analysis, Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute, Washington D.C.. In 1993-94, he headed the Group for Analysis & Planning in Viktor Chernomyrdin’s government and from 2000 to 2005 was economic advisor to Vladimir Putin)

The new structure model for Russia has been created. It is a brute force model, the main aspect of which is the use of force unfettered by any restraints – legal, traditional, or moral. That is the essence of brute force politics [силовая политика]. Thus we have brute force enterprise, brute force jurisprudence, brute force foreign policy. And the first fruits of this may now be examined.

Collapse of the institutions of the modern state.

In terms of the quality of the most important institutions of the modern state, today’s Russia is at the bottom of any list. With regards to political rights and civic freedoms, our country stand in 158t place out of 187 countries of the world – between Pakistan, Swaziland, and Togo. With regards to freedom of the press, Russia is 147th out of 179, ranking alongside Iraq, Venezuela, and Chad. In corruption, Russia occupies 123rd place out of 158, next to Gambia, Afghanistan, and Rwanda. In protection of private property rights – 89th out of 110, on the same level as Mozambique, Nigeria and Guatemala. Quality of legal system: 170th out of 199 alongside Burundi, Ethiopia, Swaziland and Pakistan. Effectiveness of civil service: 170th out out of 203, giving us Niger, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, and Pakistan as neighbours.

The brute force state model legalises violence in our society. The number of murders per thousand inhabitants in Russia is the world’s 7th highest among 112 countries, lying between Ecuador and Guatemala, a little better that South Africa and a touch worse than Mexico. In overall physical security Russia’s inhabitants occupy 175th place out of 185 countries, ranking in the same group as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Haiti, and Nepal. The siloviki have no care for their fellow-countrymen’s safety.

And what, one may ask, about the financial, technological, and operational abilities of the “force” sectors of the state – the armed forces, the police, and the special services? Hasn’t the fact that they have undergone reinforcement in recent years strengthened the state?

Unlike the institutions of any modern state which exist to ensure the safety of its citizens; to guarantee their equality before the law and the powers that be; to maintain the supremacy of the law and checks and balances; to provide freedom of the press; to protect private property, freedom of speech and of public and political organisation and the right to participate in the political life and running of one’s country, the “force” sectors differ because they are elements of the traditional state apparatus. Reinforcing them does not necessarily lead to a strengthening of the institutions of a modern state. The fact that the “force” sectors are flourishing is evidence of change in the opposite direction, of the degradation of the institutions of a modern state such as we see, for example in Somalia and Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Cuba and North Korea.

Where are we heading? Is it that the low rankings on Russia’s state institutions are the result of the oligarchic past, of the “collapse” and “chaos” period in the 1990s and that these things are now being overcome by the stubborn work of brute force civil servants?

Complete myth. The sharp fall in the quality indices of state institutions has occurred in recent years. In 1998 (the last year before the advent to power of the siloviki), the level of civic freedom in Russia was 58% of the mean figure for the OECD countries. In 2002 (on the eve of the arrest of P. Lebedev and M. Khodorkovsky and just before the destruction of Yukos), this had dropped to 47% and by 2006 to 37%. The press freedom index in that time dropped from 55% to 47% and 33% while the political rights index fell accordingly from 57% to 45% and 27%.

The freedom from corruption index which back in 2002 was only 35% of the mean for the OECD countries dropped to under 30% by 2006. Safety of property rights, which had reached 54% of the mean level for developed countries by 2002, dropped to a mere 14% by the end of 2006. The World Bank gives the following figures for the fall of Russia indices (based on OECD levels for the period 1998 to 2005: government accountability – down from 60% to 43%; political stability – down from 51% to 43%; quality of civil service management – down from 59% to 56%.

The number of murders per 1000 inhabitants in Russia was 12 times the OECD level in 1998; by 2004 – 14 times. The number of serious crimes against the person more than doubled between 1998 and 2006. In 2006, in “conditions of political stability”, with record prices for oil and gas, unprecedented economic growth, a fantastic rise in wealth, and with absolute power in the hands of the siloviki, the level of crime in the country is more than twice what it was in 1998. And 1998, let’s not forget, was the year of the greatest crash of the economy at a time of low oil prices but greater democracy.

This is total failure. The deterioration in the field of foreign affairs is no less marked. Having successful quarrelled with nearly all our foreign partners, the brute force state has created a situation not seen for a long time in Russia’s history: it would seem that today we have no allies at all. The army and the navy remain, but not a single ally for our foreign policies remains. Trumpet as we may of diplomatic successes, Russia is to all intents and purposes isolated in its foreign policies. This became particularly clear after the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. A comparison with the previous seven years shows that the average level of meetings between Russian officials and their foreign peers halved during the winter of 2006-2007. The number of meetings with heads of Western states was down to a third of the previous level and with heads of CIS states down 3.4 times. As a well-known television personality said: that is failure.

True, the reduction in the number of contacts with traditional partners in Europe, North America, and the CIS has been partially counterbalanced by a 50% increase in contacts with Eastern leaders – Indonesia, Mongolia, Lebanon, Syria, India, Guyana. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and China. The evolution of Russia’s internal political institutions is complemented by an evolution of the country’s foreign policy preferences.

What about the economic boom?

Isn’t the growth at least impressive? Growth there has been, but it should be judged in context. Mean GDP growth for 2004-2006 amounted to 6.8%, higher in actual fact than that of some European countries. But it is lower than the 8.2% growth achieved by Russia in 1999-2000 at the start of the oligarchies and before the brute force model got under way. At the same time oil – at $52 per barrel – has tripled in price since 1999-2000 ($19 p.b.), a gift to the country’s foreign trade figures worth 15-18% of GDP which was totally absent in 1999-2000.

The real example of economic growth in the last 30 years is not anaemic Europe but dynamic China. Russia lagged behind China back over the last decades and continues to lag behind today. While Russia GDP grew by 58% between 2000 and 2006, China’s rose by 88%. Seven years ago, China’s economy was 5 times the size of Russia’s, today it is 6 times.

Thanks to the brute force model, the country has been turned into an economic invalid even when viewed against the background of the other countries of the former USSR. Only two countries of the 14 former republics had growth rates higher than Russia’s in 1999-2000. For 2004-2006, 12 of them did better than Russia. With the brute force model ruling, Russia is being overtaken not only by other oil-and-gas exporting countries such as Kazakhstan (GDP growth of 94% over seven years) and Azerbaidzhan (153%). Russia is now also being overtaken by oil-and-gas-importing countries such as Armenia, Tadzhikistan, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

Even Georgia, which has no energy resources of its own and is furthermore subject to a total trade, transport, energy, travel and postal blockade by Russia, saw a GDP growth of 9% last year whereas Russia, swimming in petrodollars, achieved only 6.7%. One could not ask for a clearer demonstration of the total failure of the brute force model!

Catastrophe

All crises have serious consequences. When economic policies fail even a serious cataclysm (like, for example, the 1998 crisis in Russia) can be overcome by responding with a responsible policy line. However, if institutions of state are destroyed, the force of their own inertia can lead to catastrophe, the depth, duration and consequences of which are of a quite different scale to political crises.

The institutions of a modern state are the most important factor for economic growth and for giving the country its standing and its citizens a place in the modern world. The brute force government model has been tried dozens of times and we have been convincingly shown to what it leads. Vide: North and South Korea, East and West Germany before the 1990s, China and Taiwan before the 19809s, North and South Vietnam before 1975.

The countdown for the new historical experiment is already under way. It has not taken long for it to become clear how badly the brute force model of government in Russia does in comparison with the freer models in the Ukraine and Georgia. If the experiment is continued, we will have the opportunity to see how Russia is sidelined by all our freer close neighbours.

In foreseeing crisis, out of habit we narrow our focus to energy resources: what if the price of oil falls? Versions of this can be heard all over the place. But the problems does not lie in tomorrow but in today. It’s not a matter of the price of oil but rather of today’s government institutions, not external factors but internal ones. The problem comes from the brute force, raptorial and hierarchical state model imposed on Russia today.

Its creators promised a rebirth of the Russian state but the brute force model is killing it. Its creators promised security to the country’s citizens but the brute force model is delivering the opposite. Its creators promised to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty but the brute force model is leading to her isolation. Its creators promised faster economic growth but the brute force model guarantees it will lag behind. Its creators promised a stronger country but the brute force model is making it weaker.

There is nothing more important for today’s Russia than a change of government system.

Another Original LR Translation: Illarionov on the Elections (by our Original Translator)

The Beginnings of a Catastrophe

Andrei Illarionov

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal

November 30, 2007

A year and a half ago, it was a question of premonitions of a catastrophe. One and a half months ago – prologue to a catastrophe. And now – its beginning. A year and a half ago, applying the word “catastrophe” to the near future of Russia might still have been called an exaggeration. But current events have proven, unfortunately, that this is the right word for it.

One of the key events launching this catastrophe is what is sometimes called the “elections of December 2”. The so-called “election campaign” that is now winding up is reminiscent of two previous campaigns – the one that took place in the USSR before elections to the Supreme Soviet on December 12, 1937, and the one that took place in Germany before the Reichstag elections of March 5, 1933. All three campaigns – the two previous and the one current – have in common the manner in which the authorities conducted themselves: with massive violations of the law, including laws adopted by the very same authorities; theatric shows with elements of psychosis; the prevention of political opponents from participating in the elections; and intimidation, violence and terror – right up to the jailing of political opponents. While the degree of viciousness and scale of the authorities’ illegal actions still falls short of events in the USSR and Germany seventy years ago, there can be no doubt about the direction in which the present regime is evolving.

Considering what has happened in recent months, what will take place on December 2 cannot be called parliamentary elections in the classical sense of the word. These are not an expression of the will of the people. They are not even a referendum on the people’s trust in Vladimir Putin. December 2 is nothing but a special operation.

In this special operation the main participants from the authorities’ side – “YedRo” [TN: abbreviation for the party United Russia, or Yedinaya Rossiya], “zaputintsi” [TN: members of the “For Putin” movement], “nashisti” [TN: members of the Nashi youth movement] – did not act independently. They were all bit players, albeit at a low level, not knowing or poorly understanding what they were being used for, and how they will be used tomorrow.

The degree of unwittingness and lack of understanding about what is going on, demonstrated not only by the propagandists close to the authorities, but also by high-ranking officials in the regime itself, including the leaders of both houses of parliament, both prime ministers – the recently retired and the recently appointed – and the two “successors”, shows that they as well are just bit players.

For the citizens of Russia themselves, it is important to understand the main objectives, inevitable results, and unavoidable consequences of this special operation.

The main objective of the December 2 operation is the legitimization of the regime. Not only and not so much the regime that has been formed up to now, but also the regime that will be formed in the coming months. The process of destroying the institutions of modern governance and society – an independent parliament, independent judiciary, a large part of the free media, autonomous governorships, a professional civil service and even the Presidential Administration – once begun cannot be immediately stopped. Moreover, this process will inevitably be continued.

First in line will be the intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the corruption of which has been especially accelerated of late. Their transformation from being utterly ineffective but previously at least government agencies into criminal structures will continue at a full speed. Powerful government and criminal structures will unite to visit violence upon the citizenry. These structures will differ only in the manner in which they apply their violence – with reference to the law or without. Non-observance of the law, ignoring it and violating it, will turn government intelligence and law enforcement structures into organized criminal gangs.

One consequence of the destruction of the institutions of modern governance and society will be the concentration of power into the hands of a steadily smaller group of people, to the point of just one person – the creation of absolute power; subordination of the principles of inviolability of one’s person, dwelling, property, and the transfer of property, making them all conditional upon constantly-changing and forever multiplying conditions; the deformation of rules at work in both government and society; and the destruction of even informal but well-established and widely recognized procedures.

An inevitable result of this de-institutionalizing of government and society will be a shortening of the planning horizon; the elimination of the individual’s sense of independence and responsibility; widespread suspicion, instability, ungovernability and unpredictability in the following of decisions that have been made, and the refusal to adopt them. Unpredictability in decisions, actions and deeds will apply not only to the mass of government bureaucrats, to say nothing of the wider public, but also to members of the groups in power.

Not only in their behavior and commentaries, but even in their facial expressions, the Russian government ministers, the so-called “heirs”, after the removal of the number-two figure in the hierarchy of power – the Prime Minister – and the naming of a new prime minister, gave testimony to the arrival of a new phase in the process of de-institutionalization: the contraction of the circle of decision makers to the absolute minimum and the final elimination of even informal procedures for making decisions – the transition from institutions of any sort (formal or informal) to their complete absence. It is no longer possible to predict the next move of the authorities, not only for the millions of Russian citizens, not only for the semi-professional political consultants engaged in the sacred business of deciphering the “laws of the heavens”, but even for the narrow group of people who until recently made the decisions themselves. This radical reduction in the number of participants in the political process having even the smallest degree of independence increases incredibly the risks facing Russia.

One example of this de-institutionalization is the destruction before our very eyes of the institution for the transfer of power. The very imperfect but essentially democratic procedures that existed in Russia in the 1990’s have been de facto eliminated, with nothing to replace them – neither party, nor group, nor even of a dynastic character. No procedures at all have come into being, even of the type characteristic of an authoritarian regime.

For example, even in the USSR, which was by no means a democratic country, a certain procedure was worked out in the years following the death of Stalin for the transfer of power, and this procedure was applied without any conflict in 1982, 1983 and 1985. The selection process allowed for both the formation of groups and alliances among members of the Central Committee and Politburo, as well as a genuine process for electing a General Secretary, who held very significant but not absolute power. Members of the Politburo enjoyed considerable autonomy, and held genuine discussions at meetings. And disagreements between members of the Politburo and General Secretary did not lead to repressions.

The elimination of institutions for the transfer of power that has taken place in recent months significantly increases the risk of a violent resolution of the succession issue, the risk of a violent overthrow of the government, and the risk as well of repressions against both real and potential participants in such an overthrow.

The elimination of traditional institutions for organizing government and society increases demand for substitutes, a role that is filled by the threat of terror, the seriousness of which can be established only by real repressions – mass or selective. The evolutionary logic of the de-institutionalizing regime inevitably requires the search for and locating of enemies – of the people, the party, the ruler. The current president’s widening campaign against “enemies”, following the logic of the political process, will inevitably require a transition from irregular applications of violence against individuals “harmful to the regime”, to the introduction of systematic repression.

The list of “enemies” and, therefore, the victims of such a repression, have already been named: the “West”, political and ideological opponents, and parts of the government bureaucracy. Regarding the West, it hardly needs to worry about anything fundamentally new, beyond an aggressive propaganda campaign, diplomatic conflict, and the next flare-ups of energy and cyber wars. In contrast to the “West”, two other groups of “enemies” find themselves directly “under the hand” of the regime, and can soon expect to receive their blows.

Regarding the opposition, the campaign of repression against its representatives is quickly gathering speed, both in the breadth of its sweep and the scale and harshness of measures taken. As for the bureaucracy, it too should soon have its turn. Due to its access to the levers of power, the bureaucracy presents a real threat to the current political regime. The logic of the process demands it be purged. The 1933 elections in Germany led to the “Night of the Long Knives” (Nacht der langen Messer) in 1934, against the leadership of the the Storm Battalion (Sturmabteilung) led by Ernst Röhm; and after the 1937 elections in the USSR came the repression of 1938 against the organizers and executors of the “Great Terror”, led by the head of the NKVD, Nikolai Yezhov.

That the regime is already prepared for the systematic application of repressive measures against both the opposition and the bureaucracy can be seen not only in the imprisonment of Garry Kasparaov and hundreds of other participants in political protests, but also in what happened to Deputy Minister of Finance Sergey Storchak and Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Service Aleksandr Bulbov.

But what is important is not what the coming catastrophe holds for members of the ruling regime, nor for the bureaucracy, nor even for members of the political opposition. The main thing is what it holds for the common citizens.

In point of fact, these possible consequences only slightly concern their economic well-being. Historically, repressions have not always been accompanied by immediate economic crises, and sometimes have taken place against a background of marked economic growth. From 2000-2007, during a period when the institutions of modern governance were being dismantled in Russia, Russian GDP grew by 69.5%. During the period when the regimes of Stalin in the USSR and Hitler in Germany were being legitimized, these economies grew by 69.1% and 69.6%, respectively. The rate of economic growth in Germany and the USSR in the 1930’s exceeded the world growth rate by 2.4 times. The rate of growth in Russian GDP in the first decade of the twenty-first century has exceeded the world rate by 2.38 times.

The main thing is what the coming catastrophe holds for the security and life of everyday citizens. Evidence of the price that people and the country will pay for the widening institutional catastrophe can be seen in events so far removed from politics, apparently, as the consequences of natural disasters, for example the storm that hit Kerchenskiy Bay on November 11, 2007. Although the storm hit equally hard on both the Russian and Ukrainian shores, and both the Russian port of Kavkaz and the Ukrainian port of Kerch, the damage to the Russian side was much greater. All the sailors who died during the storm were on ships in the Russian port of Kavkaz, and all five of the ships that suffered collisions and all 8 of the ships that ran aground did not receive permission to leave the danger zone from exactly the Russian port authority. In other instances of natural disaster, differences in the number of those killed (for example, in the floods of 2003 in Europe and the Northern Caucuses: Germany – 1, Czech Republic – 7, Russia – 132) and the scale of damage could be explained by differences in the level of economic development in the affected countries. In the case of the Kerchenskiy storm, however, this explanation does not work – Ukraine currently is poorer than Russia. But what in various situations may be called sloppiness, irresponsibility or human error, represents the work of institutions for the protection of human lives and property. And those institutions in impoverished but democratic Ukraine today work better than in richer but authoritarian Russia. Human lives are sacrificed in Russia nowadays not by nature but by the regime’s destruction of the institutions of modern civilization.

There can be no doubt about the prospects for the new regime that will be legitimized on December 2 – it is archaic and historically doomed. Political regimes based on the vertical organization of society, on rule by force and terror, lose out to political regimes based on horizontal organization, tolerance, and competition in economic and political spheres. The great civilizations of the East, powerful governments based on vertically organized societies – from Egypt to Assyria, from Mesopotamia to Persia – surpassed by far the governments of the West at that time in accumulation of wealth and development in science and culture, but were swept away by history. What remains of them is only the ruins of their capital cities. The more impoverished, but differently – horizontally – organized societies of the West not only survived but achieved an historic victory, but not over the East, but over an ineffective system for organizing society, government and the economy. The post-war rise of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong – and in recent decades India and mainland China – is proceeding in large part on the basis of institutions for horizontal competition imported from the West.

Unlike the final prospects for the current Russian regime – which are clear – three questions remain unanswered:

1) How long will this regime persist;

2) What price will Russia pay for its existence; and

3) How many casualties will the citizens of Russia bear before it is eliminated.

The analysis of the current regime runs up against difficulties associated with its fairly rapid evolution, as well as the absence of obvious historical analogies and the limited usefulness of standard analytic tools. Although many similar characteristics can be found in various authoritarian dictatorships of the past, the current Russian regime also has its own peculiarities. The presence of a strange organization called the “United Russia” party makes neither it a ruling party, nor the regime a Party-based dictatorship, like the Communist USSR or Fascist Germany. The exceptional situation of quasi-governmental corporations, intended for redistribution of national economic resources into the hands of their owners, does not make this a corporate regime, like the governments of Italy, Spain and Portugal during the middle of the last century. The ruling status of representatives of the Order of Hook-Carriers and Hook-Worshipers does not make this a government based on an Order, like the Templar Knights or the Teutonic Knights, or the Order-based government of Prussia.

The search for a political regime resembling the current one in Russia inevitably leads the researcher to the shores of Sicily and the Italian Peninsula. Social organizations specializing in the application of force are not limited only to governments, armies, secret services and private security firms. They also include organized criminal groups. (The point here is not, of course, to insult or humiliate anyone, but to use these terms in a purely analytic way – to describe certain clearly defined models of social behavior.) The difference between the former groups and the latter is only that the latter type use force in ways not limited by the law, even the most incomplete law. In his time, Saint Augustine noted precisely the parentage of such power structures (siloviye strukturi) : “A government unbound by justice is nothing but a band of thieves.”

But certain disappointment awaits the researcher here as well. In the presence of an ever greater quantity and quality of comparisons between the current Russian regime and the most well-known criminal societies – the Italian “Cosa Nostra”, “Camorra”, “Ndrangheta”, the Chinese “Triads”, the Russian “Thieves in the Law” – one must nonetheless acknowledge that substantial differences remain. The Mafia has its own principles, rules, codes of conduct – cruel, monstrous and intolerable though they are to civilized citizens. But these rules exist, and the leadership and members of criminal societies in most cases abide by them. What is happening in today’s Russia poorly resembles the observance of rules and codes of conduct, no matter how loathsome they may be. The current situation in Russia would seem more to resemble an unstable gang of urban rabble, characterized by an instability of temper and unpredictability in behavior – by relations that seem very friendly until the unexpected blow of a dagger.

Regardless of how well the nature of the current regime is understood, the issue remains on the agenda: What in this situation are the citizens of Russia to do?

It is worthwhile here to recall the rules that should be followed when normal people are forced to interact with rabble. One of them is to minimize the risk of meeting, contacting or associating with its representatives. Another is not to participate in the rabble’s affairs. The third amounts to the basic rules for survival in new, to put it mildly unpleasant conditions. In the words of Varlam Shalamov, their essence was best summed up by prisoners in the Gulags more than a half-century ago: “Don’t believe. Don’t fear. Don’t ask for anything.”