ENDLESS REPAIRS

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RUSSIA HAS FAILED IN ALL THE REFORMS IT EVER LAUNCHED

The Russians distrust the reforms and particularly reformers. Will the new team of reformers about to enter the Kremlin succeed?


Not one of the reforms launched in Russia in the late 1990s was actually brought to its logical completion. Stabilization of the ruble almost accomplished in 1995-1996 became history in 1998. War on monopolies ended before it actually began. Major enterprises were made private only in 1996 and in a highly suspicious manner at that. The state has been reestablishing its presence in business projects ever since 2003…

The government carried out numerous rearrangements but the army of bureaucrats almost doubled from 0.96 million in 1991 to 1.69 million in 2007. They prevent development of the national economy and ruin everything they come into contact with. Legislatures get reorganized again and again. Integration into the CIS became a fiasco, and Russia’s road into the World Trade Organization is actually the longest in history.

The GDP exceeded the 1989 level only in 2007, and only due to the high oil and gas prices. Oil and gas account for a larger part of export from Russia than they did in the Soviet past while export of finished products is going down. Over 26 million Russians or nearly 18% of the population live below the subsistence minimum. Competition with foreign companies is lost: aviation industry and ship-building are in coma, over 50% autos and 80% medicines are imported from abroad (and so are computers and cell phones). Infrastructure is not being developed. Total length of roads in China in the years of the reforms rose by 139%. In Russia, it went down by 12%. Science is withering.

How come the reforms in Russia continue when other countries that launched the reforms simultaneously with us are already through with them? Russian reformers are not the elite that fought for its ideals and thus made it to the corridors of power. They are a product of decay of Soviet society. This is precisely why the ruling class is still longing for the Soviet past. This is why politics in Russia is thoroughly populist and nothing at all is being done to facilitate development of democracy. This is why we have a whole stratum of statesmen who are capable of suggesting reforms but never bother to do so because the reforms are really the last thing they need. Endlessness of the reforms is an indication of reformers’ inadequacy.

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