Russia » Politics
Author`s name Ольга Савка

The Myth of the Russian Stability

The structure and the functioning model of the Russian economy has not changed in recent years

Russian mass media outlets of the federal level have been writing about a certain political, economic and social stability that has been achieved in Russia at present. This accomplishment is ascribed to the economic policy of the executive power and to manipulative abilities of the presidential administration.

The "stability" has already become something to worship for the Russian political elite, it has laid the foundation of the so-called pseudo-conservative philosophy: "everything is just fine, it is important to keep to the scenario, not to break the status quo. Unfortunately, one has to acknowledge that the notorious stability is simply a myth, not the reality. The existence of the medium-term stability cannot be proved either objectively (on the level of the various qualitative and quantitative data of the country's development in 2000-2003) or subjectively (on the level of Russian people's opinions as described in opinion polls). Most likely, one should say there is an illusion of stability that has been based on:
- high oil prices on the global market maintained during the recent four years, which is extremely important for the Russian economy;
- Vladimir Putin has been successfully exploiting and representing national and  authoritarian values.

The structure and the functioning model of the Russian economy has not changed in recent years: world prices on oil are still the key factor for the country's development. The oil and gas industry (as well as all other activities connected with the industry) has become more important for the nation's economy. As it was mentioned in previous reports from the National Strategy Council, the technological degradation and depopulation continued, Russia had lost a considerable part of its geopolitical positions.

Opinion  polls show, 59 percent of the Russian population do not believe in stability, 67 percent build only short-term plans for their lives. The present "stability" can be compared to a bottle of milk kept in a warm place. The milk is losing its freshness very quickly, although negative changes can hardly be noticed at first. Russia is flabbergasted with stability - the nation risks to wake up at the moment of the country's collapse.

The analysis of the situation in modern Russia requires the analysis of four crises that Russia is currently experiencing:

1. The crisis of the national and state subjectivity. The Russian nation does not exist – there is simply a large unformed fragment of the "great community of people" – the Soviet people. Consequently, Russian people's national interests have not been formed either. Our state is not self-sufficient, it is a political structure of powerful lobbyist groups.
2. The crisis of the elite. The Russian elite is not interested in the real state of things of the country and the people, they do not set national goals either. The social and mental gap between the elite and the common people is huge.
3. The crisis of power. Politicians substitute the reality with manipulative technologies.
4. The crisis of the national infrastructure, which has not been modernized since Stalin's era. Russian authorities are trying to solve the modernization problem at the expense of the poor population (the housing and public utilities reform) without the participation of the economic elite and large corporations. This opportunity does not seem real.

The pseudo-conservative philosophy in combination with the post-modernist approach to the political and social reality displaces the state structure and public life. It does not allow to estimate the danger of the above-mentioned crises, not to mention the development of a resistance strategy. I would dare to affirm that the reason of the Soviet Union's collapse was not connected with the reduction of oil prices, although the price factor played a very negative role in the USSR's fate. The Soviet Union broke up because of two reasons. Firstly, it is the crisis of the elite: the late Soviet leadership lost the feeling of national unity, forgot about the whole country and indulged in the values of the "civilized world." Secondly, the late Soviet elite rejected their own national project. Soviet republics' leaders realized, Moscow was not the center of the megaproject anymore, so they decided to escape to the West one after another.

Russia resembles Mikhail Gorbachev's USSR at present: the loss of the national identification, the loss of the development strategy, the uncertainty to external pressure, the quality of elite. We have to acknowledge that Russia needs a national projection to form the nation as a strong, independent, developing country. Only the presidential power can bear the national projection at present, because the alternative power does not exist in the country now and is not likely to appear in near future. The presidential power has been weakened with the oligarchic influence, it needs to find a reliable political support that would be interested in the development of the Russian state. The support is supposed to be responsible to the electorate too. To crown it all, the presidential power will have to think about the considerable renewal of the federal elite, because the national projection cannot be realized with the elite of the 1990s.

There are certain prerequisites for the president to unite with regional authorities. The alliance will have to overcome the opposition between the Kremlin and regional leaders which has become the base of the so-called "vertical of power."

Stanislav Belkovsky
General Director of the National Strategy Council

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