Sergei Ivanov is trying too hard
If Sergei Ivanov is really as confident as he seems, why does he keep mentioning at every opportunity that he’s in charge of 1.3 trillion rubles in state spending? Is he trying to remind the capitalists of who will distribute this manna from heaven?
Senior Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov would make an entirely professional president. He is just as good as Putin at parrying specialized questions with ready answers. His statements are moderately vague, moderately precise, moderately harsh, moderately mild – in short, very political. All voters – liberal or conservative, nationalist or communist – can find something to suit them in Ivanov’s television image; and in the absence of freedom of choice, all voters will be glad to believe that Ivanov meets their expectations, if only partially.
Ivanov held a big press conference last week. Here’s an example of his style: “The state should not aim to strictly control the development of particular sectors of the economy and industry. It should establish coherent and comprehensible rules of the game, encouraging the involvement of private companies – regardless of their origin – in various sectors of the economy, primarily those where Russia has a number of advantages that enable us to diversify the economy, basing it less on raw materials and more on knowledge, intellect, and in-depth processing of various products.” On the one hand, this is opposed to “strict state control”; on the other, it’s clear that any companies moving into areas other than those where “Russia has a number of advantages” will not be welcome.
Ivanov gave circumstantial answers to questions about Polish meat and strategic missile defense, nuclear energy and the Litvinenko case, not binding himself with any harshly-expressed judgements.
It’s hardly surprising that Ivanov’s share price is rising on the administrative stock exchange. Already, we can see Insurance Inspectorate chief (!) Ilya Lomakin-Rumyantsev complimenting Ivanov’s wise approach to current issues in transport safety. Already, television host Vladimir Soloviev – crying “Eureka!” is pointing to Ivanov as the next president.
All the same, some nagging doubts persist. If Ivanov is really as confident as he seems, why does he keep mentioning at every opportunity that he’s in charge of 1.3 trillion rubles in state spending? Is he trying to remind the capitalists of who will distribute this manna from heaven? But Russia’s corporations are already well aware of where and how they can harness some state spending.
Despite his energetic first hundred days in office, it seems that Ivanov is still a general without an army. He’s giving pep talks, but the bureaucracy isn’t responding. So he has to emphasize his own significance.
But it’s only poverty that shouts. Wealth whispers.