On February 8, after the Russian President finished his 45-minute address about the strategy of the Russian development before 2020 at the State Council’s enlarged meeting, analysts got confused in their comments. They varied from “Putin left his will” to “he will not leave at all.” Some said that “he first acknowledged arms race,” others believed that “he said nothing new,” etc.
Moreover, after the third part of the speech was said, it could be concluded that the only aim of the presidential address was to remind everyone of the terrible situation in Russia before Putin and the improvements achieved during his presidency. Afterwards, Putin promised that Russia would continue its development. He really specified plans and goals, but it was just a brief outline. The landmark speech lacked the list of mechanisms and resources required for achieving such goals. That is why Putin’s speech looked more like the final report of the past eight years with best wishes for the forthcoming 12 years.
However, Putin’s address was neither a report, nor a summary of the strategy before 2020. In fact the attendees at the Georgievsky Hall of the Kremlin (where Putin delivered his speech) heard the following: “You think that our situation is good and is going to remain such? But if we adhere to the present scenario, things will get worse.”
“Despite the success of the previous years, – here the president decided to repeat for those hard on hearing – some success of the previous years, we still stick to the inertial raw-energy scenario of development… Following this scenario we will not progress, we will fail to provide the country’s security or its proper development, we will threaten its existence. I really mean it. The only real alternative for that is the strategy of the innovative development… This way is much more difficult… But in fact we have no choice.”
Vladimir Putin himself used rather harsh criteria to determine Russia’s present situation. In his report he said that by the beginning of this year Russia became one of the world’s greatest economies (the GDP was measured using purchasing power parity). There he mentioned the sore point, for the parity between the economy and its effectiveness, as well as the quality of life, is hard to see yet.
The present quality of life is such that “every second male in the country does not stand a chance to live even up to 60. What a shame!” As to the effectiveness, “the main problem of the Russian economy is its ineffectiveness. The Russian labour productivity remains unacceptably low… and it is twice as dangerous against the background of the growing global competition.”
It was no accident that Vladimir Putin remembered the time-tested communist slogan “to develop criticism and self-criticism”. Eight and twelve years are enough to overcome the stagnation period, or to acknowledge it an insuperable obstacle.
Translated by Julia Bulygina