The following is a translation of the article by Leonid Radzikhovsky, published with some editor's comments in “SB-Belarus Segodnya” (issue of May 19, 2010)

No one to rely on

There is a whirl of minds in Russia, at least in its so-called intellectual and searching for the ways of its further development part. It means that old ideological programs do not work anymore, and the new ones … Well, the new ones are too fast to appear and disappear.

As you remember there was a well-known call of the United Russia for conservatism not long ago, that sounded sweet as it called up great names like Thatcher’s conservatism for example, but according to the political analyst from the Centre of political technologies Alex Makarkin the fact is that when the members of the United Russia speak of conservatism “it’s not the conservatism of Thatcher but the conservatism of Brezhnev, it’s not the conservatism of the ideology, but the conservatism of instinct, the desire of stability, desire to live the way we lived yesterday.”

Another wind of changes blew when President Medvedev as if to disoblige the members of United Russia and its guru criticized old-fashioned methods and called for modernization the fist sign of which was the article under the following title: “Russia go ahead!” published in September 2009. Like Chekhov’s Chameleon United Russia immediately suggested the base for “conservative modernization”.

So everybody immediately joined the movement without realizing even what Modernization really meant. Igor Yurgens, one of the chief Medvedev advisers, said the only way to reach real modernization is to pass huge liberal reforms. But he was interrupted by “grey eminence” - Vladislav Surkov- who declared that the country is to continue following its authoritarian modernization way. He announced the setting up Russian Silicon valley to attract foreign investors. The mighty Financial Times estimated the current searching of Russian ruling elite as “Between modernization and chaos”. This concerns the relations with the nearest neighbors, Belarus in particular. There is little economic sense in the artificial market barriers for Belarusian goods, in the problems with milk, meet and gas. And economic losses are evident. As analysts indicate there is a decline in Russia’s role on the post soviet area. Naked pragmatism can not become the motivation for integration and if to think thoroughly the motivation for modernization the country needs. Integration with no huge market that could unite Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan are just beautiful words. A political analyst, Leonid Radzihovsky, spoke out some interesting though doubtful thoughts on pages of Russian business newspaper “Vzgliad”. So let’s read it.

Forbes gomps again

Recently Forbes has published its annual 2 000 world largest companies list. The main criterion has been capitalization in correlation with some others such as the volume of sales, benefits and so on.

This list once again confirms the well-known fact about Russia’s economy. But let me show some figures as facts are always much more convincing.

There are 28 Russian companies in this 2 000 list headed by “Gasprom”(16th world largest comp.). 9 of them are mining & metallurgical companies (there 134 such comp. in the list),8 - oil & gas (115 in the list), 3- banks (from 305 of the list), 2 TV comp., 2 energetic comp., 2 trade comp.(food products shops chains), 2 chemical comp. (fertilizers).

There is no Russian in such sectors of the world economy as airspace (21), electronics & computer (66), soft (35), media (50), medicine & bio technologies (44). Moreover, she is too far from it (only in the airspace sphere “Almaz-Antei” is almost of the lowest list level – but still it has failed to enter the list).

There is no Russia in the economy of the XXI cent. Its a common known fact.

Russia making up 2 % of the world population gives 3% of the world GDP. This figure is reached with the help of the oil(12% of the world industry), gas (2.116 bn $ 2009 drop by 7,9 %) and metallurgical industries.

Russia’s share in the world hi-tech is from 0,3 up to 0,4 % within the calculation error. And its true that there is no Russia there.

This structure of the economy differs strictly from the one of the USA, EU and Japan. If to take BRIC countries with Russia as its member we find out the following facts:

There are 113 comp. in PRC with 49 comp. in Hong Kong and 39 in Taiwan, 23 of which are mining & metallurgical companies, 3 - oil & gas, there are 14 banks and 4 insurance comp., 13 engineering & electro-technical comp., 4 – automobile, 2 –soft, 2- electronics & computers , 1- medical equipment, 10 – investment & financial comp. and so on. In Taiwan there are 14 comp. producing electronics & computers.

There are 56 companies in India: automobile (4), soft (4), banks (19), medicine and bio technologies (1), car building (1), computers and electronics (1).

Even Brazil with its 33 companies has 1 media, 1 airspace, 2 finance and investment companies. Moreover Brazil with its 202 5 bn $ GDP (the 2009 loss of 0.2 %) is the only member of BRIC who stands a bit behind Russia. CNR with its 8780 bn $ and India with its 3560 bn $ greatly surpass (7) Russia and over this year their GDP has grown significantly.

This comparison shows the financial and investment systems in other BRIC countries are much more developed than in Russia. Unlike Russia these countries do not just pump oil, gas and eliquate aluminum and steel but actively work in the sphere of hi-tech economy, produce electronics, medicine, soft, airspace techniques at a highly developed level.

This all is a well known fact but figures are more firm evidence.

Old and poor.

One more important advantage of these countries is their population to say nothing of the fact that it’s incomparably larger than the one of Russia where the age structure is completely different.

27 % of the population of Brazil is under 14, 6 % is over 64, 30% and 5% in India and 20% and 8% in PRC accordingly. In Russia 15% of the population is under 14 and 14 % is over 65. Those are more average Europe like figures. For example in France the figure is of 18-16%, 16-16 % in Switzerland, 14-20 % in Germany, 13-20 % in Italy (besides, in the USA the figures are of 20-13 %).

Ageing population with developed retiring system is Russia’s and EU’s main problem. The difference is just in the fact that those countries retired historically, having 30 000-45 000 $ GDP per capita as their economy is the hi-tech economy of the XXI cent. And the economy of Russia is the rough economy of oil and steel–the economy of the XX cent. The EU rent is technological and financial, Russia’s is raw material.

Russia’s economy structure makes it old-fashioned to compare with the BRIC countries, its socio-demographic problems and social claims makes it be close to senescent EU! Russia’s Eurasia took a bit from Europe as well as from Asia. Of course it’s not what we should like to see but things go just like that.

It doesn’t mean that Chinese are to invade those few Russians who are unable to invade Siberia. And the popular thought has nothing to do with the real state of things - nobody is going to lead a war with the nuclear country that regularly provides China with oil and gas. The thing is that Russia is economically prospect less. At least until it does radically change its economic structure that is simpler than to change its demographic structure.

I mentioned these common known facts just to highlight the dreadful state of Russia’s economy. Yeah, it’s comfortable to have oil – but its sources are not limitless. Oil makes us passive and it makes our future more and more uncertain…

No doubt in no democratic country the leaders dare to tell their voters an inconvenient truth as well as increase the retirement age. Judging by the fact Russia is a strictly democratic country. Democratic from the main and the most dangerous point of view that power does not dare combing people’s hair the wrong way. Paraphrasing Lenin's words we say “you want it or not but you have to tell people sweet things and pat them on the back. But people have to be mercilessly thunderstruck…” What politician if he is not insane will dare to do that, even by the figures mentioned above!

There are no fools who will eagerly tell people such disgusting, offensive, unpleasant things. It’s only allowed to speak about the things like the great parade, current problems (without mentioning a little detail that we’ll have to pay for everything) and immediately promise “better and not that bad” sweetly pink future for everybody. In case someone is to face difficulties, they will be these damned “oligarchs” and ‘corrupted officials”, those categories of the population who always suffer more…

This all is very sweet but … what shall we do?

We’ll be supported abroad though foreign countries do not want to do that.

If we strive for reaching such an aim as to improve the economic situation of Russia we have to find the way to do that.

Earlier Russia at least had unlimited people source. But we used it day by day and finally used it to the end. We widely spent the wood and cut our forests. We worked so hard and built so little that there is nothing left now. There is no this taiga of people any more, this young peasants who could work for a penny. There is a thin forest with few young and many old sicks. But there is an influx of Chinese, Indian, Brazilian people nobody thought about some 100 years ago. Young people in Russia just like in Europe strive to become officials, managers, leaving all the dirty work to migrant workers. But we shouldn’t forget that the economy of Russia is much more those migrant workers like.

Not very optimistic like. But you know it well. The problem is that nobody can find the way out. To make it clearer nobody knows what the bargaining chips of Russia area besides oil and gas. Nothing but this rent resource based economy can be built on the base of it.

After such bitter words it’s appropriate to say: “And now close your eyes, open your mouth and wait for a surprise!” Do not wait as do not have it, the hat is empty and there is no rabbit in it. There will be no catharsis. Well, it’s a usual thing for political parties to ask people close their eyes and open their mouths especially in the forthcoming elections:” Give you bulletin and all the rest well do ourselves”. I’m not a politician so why should I need to deceive the reader? I don’t need to make use of them…

There are two thoughts. The first one is that all the successfully modernized countries were initially this or that way supported by the USA.

This way it happened with Marshall’s plan in the 1940s-1950s in Europe, in the 1950s in occupied Japan, with American bases in Korea, in 1990s in KPR that was completely independent from the USA.

And it’s logically understandable. What’s “modernization”? It’s not some abstract ideas to follow, it’s just reaching the level of the “advanced countries” with the USA as their leader. To catch up and outdo, but not the way the motto of the 1930s-1980s said but to do it in the atmosphere of the harsh reality (as Japan did). To outdo just in some specific sphere like automobiles or electronics. Its like “Teacher, teach your pupil so he could teach others”. But before outdoing we have to catch up. But to cooperate is the only one way to catch up with the USA.

So we have to be strategic partners with the USA. This union may have various forms (like Japan and China), that won’t threaten the political sovereignty of the nation. The union is the term that is not enough but necessary for successful modernization.

Russia is trying to improve relations with the US. For example, the Skolkovo project is viewed as an international one. Maybe the one of the coordinators of the project will be from America (it is possible that it’ll be Nobel prized chemist Roger Cornberg). Everything is OK but realizing the importance of the project we have to understand one more thing: it’s impossible to make the bear of Russian economy to risejust with the help of some Skolkovo pinpricks. If its not a simple exhibition display of industrial achievements but the modernization of the country we are talking about we need a real crane, we need the political paradigm to change – that’s why we need a union with the US.

A union is something more than just amicable relations or mutually beneficial trade. A union requires long-term and substantial investment with an eye to a long-term benefit. Such investments are made only when we are 1) sure in the partner and 2) in its profitability whether it in the short or in the long run.

It’s unclear why it’s so profitable to invest in Russia. So that is what we have to explain them to attract their attention.


The relations with CIS were long ago announced to be Russia’s outward priority № 1.

It’s understandable that we are neighbors; we have common past, common migration workers, and common native language-Russian, common gas pipe lines.

It’s unquestionable. But the situation is completely different if to view modernization as the main strategic priority of Russia’s policy.

None CIS country could help Russia with technological modernization.

Union for modernization” is not the union with the CIS countries or just one of them. They provide Russia with the things its economy needs (cheep labor for example).

Russia’s policy in CIS is able to easily destroy even the possibility of the union with the USA.

Let’s see a certain example:

Our motherland Ukraine”.

To love Ukraine but not to marry.

After the marine and gas treaty was signed (each of the country considering it to be unprofitable ratified it), after Yuliya Timoshenko’s spoke in Rada (Supreme Council of Ukraine) against Black Sea Fleet in the waters of Sevastopol, after the rumors about the agreement in the atomic sphere appeared, after STA joined United Aircraft Corporation of Russia – after all this “Ukrainian seduction” couldn’t but was relieved.

Russia’s reunification with Ukraine is an eternal dream. But we should drive it out from our minds and our thoughts. The 1 reason is that dream is “just a dream”. If even Russia’s Flying Dutchmans make Ukrainian elite blow up there is nothing to say about the REAl reunification. Not only citizens of Western Ukraine would become Russia’s opponents in the matter but coal-steel Donbas barons would never cooperate with Russia.

So any reunification is out of question. Until Ukraine exists.

An unpleasant fact is that if there is any sign of “empire restoration” West, the EU and the US instead of union and modernization will declare war on Russia.

They have no right to impose the way we should carry out our foreign policy! Let them go to hell…”

It’s true that they have no such a right but they have opportunities. What concerns this “go to hell…” – they will! But it won’t do any good to Russia. They will stay in the XXI cent in their half empire (I hope nobody is going to reunite Central Asia, the Baltic States and Transcaucasia. Maybe… why not? Let’s do that. And we shouldn’t forged Poland and Finland as well) of the XIX-XX year model.

And if they have no right to impose the way Russia should carry out its foreign policy, Russia as well has no right to impose the way they should carry out their foreign policy. And their policy will be a cold war against the “restored empire”.

The problem is not the reunification itself as everybody knows it’s impossible. But anyway heart knows no law. “Goal is nothing, reaching it is everything”.

The problem is in the political priorities and emanating actions.

If modernization is the main goal of Russia, it’s main priority should be relations with modernized countries and primarily with the US.

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