President Putin said that some Western countries misunderstand constructing stronger state of Russia and mix this process with authoritarianism, in the beginning of his recent address to the nation.
The Russian political elite listening to the address in the Kremlin, met the statement with applause. Then the public applauded after the President said that the practice of 3 years of mandatory work with certain companies for the college graduates who studied free of charge, should be introduced again. Then the President was cheered after he told that the burden of social responsibility should be allocated between different levels of authorities, inflation should be reduced to 3 percent and Russian rouble can be made hard currency. Vladimir Putin was applauded after his call to provide Russian military with the most modern strategic weapons as we have all the capacities for this, the promise to pursue the policy of fighting terrorism, assurances that nobody will stop Russia on the way to democracy, statement that return to the past is impossible.
MiK news agency asked Deputy Director of the Center of Political Technologies Alexei Makarkin how the public had perceived President Putin’s address.
Alexei Makarkin The public reacted on the two things. First, the demonstration of achievements: inflation of 3 percent, increasing the country GDP twofold by 2010 an so on. Any public cheers such things, including the US Congress applauding to George Bush’s statement on fighting terrorism.
As for President Putin’s address, I think the main thing is that it demonstrated: Vladimir Putin is more liberal than 70 percent of Russian society (as Mikhail Khodorkovsky wrote in his letter). The people listening to the President were cheering the reminiscences on our successes in the past, calls for stronger state with much more enthusiasm than the statements on the “boring” economic issues. This demonstrates that the President is more liberal than the society and the elite listening to his address in the Kremlin.
MiK President said that we should surpass the Western countries in terms of tempos of economic growth.
Alexei Makarkin He meant not only the Western countries, but also China. This is not anti-Western policy, these are just ambitions. Another matter is that the listeners cheered the statements on the Soviet experience and reminiscences, too much.
MiK Did Vladimir Putin mention oligarchs?
Alexei Makarkin Probably, he does not want to unfold the anti-oligarch campaign too much. Again, the political elite is not liberal. The society is even less liberal. As for the oligarchs, they will encounter problems caused by the authorities, not only on the federal level, but also in the regions. The successful businessmen not willing to share money with officials, will have the problems in the first place. For this reason, the President did not want to provoke unpredictable reaction within the society and refrained from criticizing oligarchs.
MiK Did Vladimir Putin say any unexpected things in his address?
Alexei Makarkin No, just routine things.
MiK Is the arrival of the EU and its Parliament Assembly representative in Moscow to monitor the situation on human rights and prosecuting Mikhail Khodorkovsky, just a coincidence or it was done on purpose?
Alexei Makarkin This was hardly connected with the President’s address. Another matter is that the President has tough reaction to certain things. We can see this in President’s statements regarding to YUKOS. Vladimir Putin said that the government should have the interests of the state, not some companies as its priority. He said that the practice of minimizing tax payments with different schemes cannot be tolerated. He expressed criticism to NGOs, and the majority of them support Khodorkovsky.