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Kremlin Still Sees Rose-Colored Future

Sergei Naryshkin, the Kremlin's top optimist?
Sergei Naryshkin, the Kremlin's top optimist?
While Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attends a two-day summit in Brazil of the world's four biggest emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China, or BRIC) , Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin paid a visit to Japan where a festival of Russian culture began on April 15, the Russian news agency Regnum reports.

In a speech he gave at Kyoto University, Naryshkin said that in 2020 Russia's average monthly salary would be at around $2,700 and about 50 percent of the population would belong to the middle class (according to Rosstat, the Russian statistics agency, the average monthly salary was around $800 at the end of 2009).

The figures presented by Naryshkin are not new; they are part of a strategy published by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade at the end of 2007 often shortly dubbed "Russia 2020." In the words of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, "Russia must become the most attractive country in the world to live in."

What's more surprising is that the Kremlin chief of staff still sticks to this utterly optimistic prognosis. Experts from the CSIS think tank have highlighted that the strategy essentially offers three alternative scenarios. Naryshkin's macroeconomic forecast corresponds to the third (the best) scenario put forward in the ministry's strategy paper. One key factor is the average compound GDP growth rate; the third scenario assumes about 6 percent annual growth until 2020.

The Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported on April 15 that the International Monetary Fund expects Russia to grow at a rate of 4 percent in 2010 and 3.3 percent in 2011. This is rather good news considered the fact that Russia's economy shrank by 7.9 percent in 2009 compared to 2008. On the other hand, China -- Russia's partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, but also a competitor in the global economic race -- grew 11.9 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

These figures need comparison, so check out the following table:

GDP in billion US$GDP per capita, US$Average life expectancy
Russia 20081,607.811,23267.9

Chart below: Years when the United States, Japan, and Germany reached these levels:

United States194219411949
Germany (West)196919541958


Data according to a speech delivered by Aleksandr Dynkin, director of the Institute for World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy or Science (IMEMO), in February 2010

-- Fabian Burkhardt

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