Friday, February 24, 2012

Putin's evolution

In the early 2012 Prime Minister Vladimir Putin published a series of articles elaborating his proposals. has found few differences between the proposals made by Putin after he first took power in Russia in 2000-2001 and now, 12 years later.

I identified 6 out of 11 pairs of quotes correctly. I doubt many in Russia can do much better, where Putin is maintains almost 50% support without any significant change in his demagoguery. After all what can the public do - vote Communist?

In order to avoid boring the readers, the quotes are presented in random order, allowing you to guess which came from speeches in 2000-20001 and which from early 2012. In each pair of quotations one quote is from younger and one from older Putin. The answers are at the bottom. 

I translated the selected quotes from article (original in Russian).

On the economy:
1. Today the government's involvement is excessive in regards to property, entrepreneurship, even consumption. And on the other hand, the government remains passive in building of a unified economic space for the country, universal enforcement of the laws, defense of property rights.

2. Russia differs from many other countries by a rather large government sector in the economy and more intrusive involvement in regulations, while the methods of the latter lag behind existing alternatives. Our economic policy needs to be corrected in the direction of lowering the scale of government regulations, replacement of mandates by market mechanisms, and of administrative control - to insurance of responsibility.

3. Regrettably, business climate in our country is improving too slowly, and remains unfavorable.

4. During the last few years ... we started a range of reforms, directed towards improvement of business climate. But, there have been  no major breakthroughs yet.

5. A major reserve [of tax dollars lies] in stopping tax evasion through one-day businesses or 'off-shore' accounts. Honest business will only benefit from this - it won't have to compete with those, who flourish by engaging the shady operations and deceit of government.

6. The tax system today contributes to mass evasion of taxes, movement of economic activity into shadows, reduction of investment activity, and eventually - fall of competitiveness of Russian businesses.

7. The economy remains based on the price of raw materials. The government budget depends on the dynamics of world prices on energy. We are losing competitiveness in the global markets, which is oriented more and more towards innovation, on the new economics based on knowledge and technology.

8. We need to overcome the inertia of our locally invested capital, which - let's be frank - is unaccustomed to innovation, research projects and experimentation.

9. Hence, such a 'short breath' of politics, its narrow focus on self-preservation and division of power and property. This situation is traditionally the result of weak societal control over politicians, and under-development of civil society in Russia. This situation is gradually changing, but still very slowly.

10. The root cause of many of our failures is under-development of civil society and in inability of government to communicate and cooperate with it. The government is constantly grasping for the extremes - sometimes it forgets, other times it indulges the society. Meanwhile, there's the belief that in Russia everything depends on the government. The government is not responsible for everything. A great deal depends on Russian citizens themselves. Developed countries are characterized by the degree of responsibility, maturity of political parties, social organizations, and civil positions of mass media.

11. We will conduct social policy based on principles of all-inclusiveness and adequate quality of basic social benefits. First of all, we need to help those, whose income is considerably lower that the living minimum. Children of ministers can do without child's tax credits, and wives of bankers - without unemployment benefits.

Владимир Путин проводит первое заседание президиума Госсовета РФ, 2000 год. Фото из архива РИА Новости, Владимир Родионов
Vladimir Putin conducts the first meeting of the cabinet of Russian Federation. (year 2000)
From RIA News archive, photo by Vladimir Radionov.

12. In Russia we need to have a functional system of social mobility - social elevators - befitting a modern society. We need to learn to compensate for negative sides of market economy and its endemic inequality. We need to do it, as have learned other countries, which have long been living with capitalism. That means special support is received by children of poor families for education.

13. The letter of the law and real life and often far from each other.  In Russia, we have only a bare carcass of a civil society. Now we need patient, collaborative work for it to become a fully-fledged partner of the government. But - we're not always able to combine patriotic responsibility for the fate of the country with what Stolupin once call "civil frivolities".

14. ... we have enacted programs in support of social non-governmental organizations. In the future, we plan to considerably enlarge the scope of these programs. But, for them to work properly, we need to strongly counteract an innate distrust of bureaucrats for non-governmental organizations. Behind this bias is the desire not to share resources, and to avoid competition, and fear of actual responsibility for affairs entrusted to them.

15. About 40% of worlds' natural resources lie on our territory. Our population comprises only 2% of the world. The implications of this situation are clear. Without realizing a massive, long-term project of demographic development, growth of human capital, development of our territory, we risk becoming in a real sense "an empty space", the fate of which will not be decided by us.

16. We - the citizens of Russia - grow fewer in number every year. For several years already the population of the country shrinks annually by approximately 750 thousand people. If believe the prognoses ... in 15 years there will be 22 million fewer Russians. Think about this number: that's a seventh part of the country's population. If the current trajectory continues, the survival of the nation could be at stake. We are seriously in danger of becoming an ageing country. Today, the demographic situation is one of the most worrying.

Regarding the pension system

17. In conditions of significant reduction of country's population of the working age, and increase of of older population, it becomes essential to cardinally raise the effectiveness of social spending. If we wish to retain and even, to quantitatively improve, the situation we have not other choice.

18. Under the current system we cannot provide a descent quality of life to our pensioners, therefore we have to, without delay, establish mechanism of transfer to a really effective pension system. People are ready for this: the polls show that over 60% of Russian citizens consider it essential to drastically alter the very principles of our pension system.

Regarding education
19. Among national priorities I see the following ... to provide social equality in education. We are already used to the fact that selection of children into prestigious schools (and corresponding competition of their parents) starts in the first grade. Meanwhile, in many of our major cities there are school with persistently low educational results .... Children should not be hostages to social and cultural status of their families.

20. Education should rely only at the budgetary dispensation of resources. Non-budgetary financing of educational institution, in other words - and let's put it plainly - payment for education, has become the norm.  However, this market remains non-transparent, and that is an illegal market. Directors of schools use it at their own risk. Officially free education, in combination with real, but hidden payments corrupts students and educators. We need to clearly delineate the spheres of free education, access to which should be just and guaranteed, and paid education by giving it an adequate legal basis.

Regarding the foreign policy
21. Russia remains the nucleus of integration processes in the Cooperative, during the period of economic uplift in Russia new possibilities open up... The signing of an agreement for the establishment of a Eurasian economic Cooperative is only the first major step, but we're ready to continue to walk further in this direction.

22. We offer a model of major supra-national union, capable of becoming a pole of a modern [multi-polar] world, and the play a roll an effective "link" between Europe and the dynamic Asian-Pacific region. This means, among other things that ... we need to transition to a closer integration of economic and foreign policies, to form a fully-fledged economic union.

Years 2000-2001: Questions 1,3,6,7, 10,11,13,16,18, 20,21
Year 2012: Questions: 2,4,5,8,9,12,14,17,19,22

If consider myself knowledgeable about Russia, but I only got 12/22 correct, barely over 50%.

No comments:

Post a Comment