Thursday, November 27, 2014


The Power Vertical

'Permanent Revolution'

Is Medvedev aiming to be Russia's next great reformer?
Is Medvedev aiming to be Russia's next great reformer?

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has roundly criticized his country for what he calls a humiliating dependence on natural resources, a "half-Soviet" social sphere, and instability in the Caucasus.


The criticism, published on the gazeta.ru website, appears in an open letter on the country's strategic challenges, addressed to the Russian people under the headline "Forward Russia!"


"Should we continue to drag into the future our primitive raw-materials economy," Medvedev writes, "endemic corruption, and inveterate habit of relying on the state, foreign countries or some all-powerful doctrine to solve our problems -- on anyone except ourselves?"


Looking back for precedents, Medvedev lauds the reforms of Peter the Great and the Soviet Union, but criticizes them for "destroying millions of lives."


"Today, for the first time in our history," he writes, "we have the chance to prove to ourselves and the world that Russia can develop democratically."


Medvedev says the government has developed a plan to advance the economy by making Russia a leader in technology, energy efficiency, and space infrastructure. For it to succeed, Medvedev writes, "Russia's political system will also be extremely open, flexible, and intrinsically complex."


Calling for a "permanent revolution," Medvedev vows Russia will become an "active and respected member of the world community of free nations." He calls on Russians to e-mail the Kremlin with suggestions.


Medvedev's letter, posted on a leading independent news website, is the latest in a series of exercises burnishing his image as a liberalizing reformer. But although exhaustive on vague, overarching goals, Medvedev fails to offer a single concrete policy change that would bring about the drastic reform he seeks.


Critics will note that Medvedev -- former President Vladimir Putin's handpicked successor, who came to power last year after Putin's eight years in office -- never hints at criticism of his mentor. Putin revived authoritarianism in Russia by cracking down on democratic institutions and the free press, and most Russians believe he retains power in his current role as prime minister.


Since Putin's ascent 10 years ago, corruption has ballooned, society has become far more closed, and the government has done virtually nothing to alleviate a deepening dependence on the oil and gas industry that fuelled Russia's decade-long economic boom.


Some will surely take Medvedev's liberal-sounding rhetoric to indicate a growing split between him and Putin. But his letter echoes many previous calls for reform by him and Putin, and others will see it as another installment of the kind of public relations exercise Russia's leaders rely on to stay in power.

-- Gregory Feifer

Tags: reform,medvedev,Russia,corruption

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jordan Hoiberg from: RSM
September 11, 2009 04:00
Hmmm... sounds like something the Bolsheviks would have said, and to finish off the analogy, the government does nothing to interfere with their windfall profits from nationalized oil companies (Rosneft, Gazpom, etc.). Can't really blame the Russian people for not taking action after the 90's though. At least for now, with Putin, its not the belief that "things can't get worse" its the belief that "we'd best not screw the pooch too bad". Anyways, I'm interested to see what happen when the recession's impact is fully felt and Putin's seemingly infallible popularity rating starts to drop. Guess we'll have to see if the Russian mentality has changed at all at that time.

by: Ray from: Lawrence, KS
September 11, 2009 13:53
Words, words, words. Reading between the lines, the only difference between this hot air and that of his predecessor/boss is the absence of blaming the west/US for Russia's problems (might be located in secret, unpublished protocol). Moreover, I could find no reference to this article among the popular sources of Russian news. Nothing more that fastfood for the liberal gristmill, filling but not nutritional.

by: Dave Stone from: Manhattan, KS
September 14, 2009 15:33
The title here is misleading; Medvedev does NOT actually call for a permanent revolution. What he says is that he wants to "disappointment / dismay (ogorchit')" those who want permanent revolution. His point is measured, careful reform.

by: Paul from: Canada
September 22, 2009 13:31
Is there an English translation of this article available? (I can't seem to track one down...)

by: Dave Stone from: Manhattan, KS
October 01, 2009 00:02
Paul--my post on the speech has links to both the English and Russian versions:<br />http://russian-front.com/2009/09/15/dmitrii-medvedev-and-permanent-revolution/

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15:34 November 26, 2014

SIBERIAN AVIATION FOLLIES

So by now, we've all seen how passengers in Krasnoyarsk had to get out and push their flight out of the snow...

...and we've all seen the snarky Twitter memes this has inspired...

...but have you heard about onboard drunken onboard brawl that grounded a flight in Novosibirsk?

12:41 November 26, 2014

MIKHAIL ZYGAR OF DOZHD-TV HONORED

12:33 November 26, 2014

NO MISTRAL, NO FRENCH WINE!

Via The Moscow Times:

A lawmaker on the State Duma's Defense Committee has proposed banning the import of French wines in response to Paris' decision to suspend delivery of the first of two helicopter carriers to Russia.

"Let's ban the sale of French wine in Russia," Deputy Vladimir Bessonov told Russian News Service radio on Tuesday. "Even talking about this can bring about desired results," he said, without specifying what these would be.

France, under pressure from its Western allies to cancel a 1.2 billion euro contract ($1.58 billion) with Russia for Mistral-class warships, said earlier Tuesday that it was suspending delivery of the first of two carriers because of Russia's meddling in eastern Ukraine.

MEANWHILE, IN UKRAINE...

12:21 November 26, 2014
12:20 November 26, 2014

BAD NEWS AT SBERBANK

12:18 November 26, 2014

MORNING NEWS ROUNDUP

From RFE/RL's News Desk:

INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST ESCAPES RUSSIA, SEEKS ASYLUM IN U.S.

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

The editor-in-chief of an independent Russian news website says he will seek political asylum in the United States.

Oleg Potapenko told RFE/RL on November 26 that he has arrived in the United States despite efforts by Russian authorities to prevent him from leaving the country.

Potapenko is editor of Amurburg.ru, a news site in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk that has reported about the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

On November 12, the openly gay Potapenko and his partner were prevented from boarding a flight from Khabarovsk to Hong Kong after border guards said a page was missing from Potapenko's passport.

Potapenko says the page was cut out by a police officer who requested his passport for a check earlier that day.

He told RFE/RL that he had managed to leave Russia from another city, Vladivostok, on November 16.

MERKEL SAYS RUSSIA TRAMPLING ON INTERNATIONAL LAW

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Russia's actions in Ukraine are a violation of international law and a threat to peace in Europe.

Speaking bluntly in an address to Germany's parliament on November 26, Merkel said, "Nothing justifies the direct or indirect participation of Russia in the fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk."

She told the Bundestag that Russia's actions have "called the peaceful order in Europe into question and are a violation of international law."

But she suggested there was no swift solution, saying, "Our efforts to overcome this crisis will require patience and staying power."

Germany has become increasingly frustrated over Moscow's refusal to heed Western calls to stop supporting pro-Russian separatists who have seized control of large parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in eastern Ukraine.

Close ties between Russia and Germany have been strained by the Ukraine crisis.

(Based on reporting by Reuters)

UKRAINE SAYS MORE RUSSIAN MILITARY IN EAST

Ukraine has leveled fresh charges that Russia is sending military support to pro-Russian separatists in the east.

A foreign ministry spokesman said five columns of heavy equipment were spotted crossing into Ukrainian territory on November 24.

Evhen Perebyinis told journalists on November 25 that a total of 85 vehicles had been detected in the five columns that entered at the Izvaryne border crossing point from Russia.

"The Russian side is continuing to provide the terrorist organizations of the Donetsk and Luhansk people's republics with heavy armaments," said Perebynisis.

Separately, the Ukrainian military said one soldier had been killed and five others wounded in the past 24 hours as a shaky cease-fire declared on September 5 continued to come under pressure.

The six-month conflict in the east of Ukraine has left more than 4,300 people dead, according to the United Nations.

(Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters)

RUSSIA SAYS IT WON'T ANNEX ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA

By RFE/RL

Russia has rejected accusations that it is planning to annex Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told RFE/RL’s Current Time program on November 25: “There can be no question about any annexations.”

Georgia and the West have criticized a "strategic partnership" agreement between Russia and Abkhazia signed on November 24.

Tbilisi condemned the pact as an attempt by Moscow to annex the region.

Karasin also said Russia will “continue sparing no effort, nerves, financial expenses” to make sure its neighbors “do not feel endangered.”

"As a large state and a powerful country, Russia is constantly responsible for stability on its borders and everything that is under way along its borders," he added.

Under the "strategic partnership," Russian and Abkhaz forces in the territory will turn into a joint force led by a Russian commander.

 

19:16 November 21, 2014

POWER VERTICAL PODCAST: A YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY

On this week's Power Vertical Podcast, we use the one-year anniversary of the Euromaidan uprising to look at how it changed both Ukraine and Russia. My guests are Sean Guillory and Alexander Motyl.

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About This Blog

The Power Vertical is a blog written especially for Russia wonks and obsessive Kremlin watchers by Brian Whitmore. It covers emerging and developing trends in Russian politics, shining a spotlight on the high-stakes power struggles, machinations, and clashing interests that shape Kremlin policy today. Check out The Power Vertical Facebook page or