One week away from Vladimir Putin's inauguration for a new term as President of Russia, London mouthpieces are giving maximum publicity to the troubles he will face. Two articles along these lines were published last week by Russian figures friendly to the British imperial monetarist policies that have brought disaster to Europe and the world. One is a wild-eyed scenario in Mikhail Gorbachov's newspaper, the other a prospectus on the coming impact of Russia's WTO membership, from a key monetarist academic institution that supports accession to the WTO, but admits the upheaval it may cause.
The April 25 issue of Novaya Gazeta, co-owned by Gorbachov, carried an article by Vladimir Pastukhov titled "Russia Has to Change, or It Will Simply Disappear." Pastukhov, an advisor to the head of Russia's authoritative Constitutional Court, is currently a Visiting Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford (long a center of Soviet and Russian studies, known for its close ties with the British foreign intelligence agency, MI-6).
According to Pastukhov, Russia will survive — "within its current frontiers" and as a sovereign state, but "not as a superpower" — only on condition that it "change dramatically, reorganize itself, [and] team up with Europe and America to face common challenges." If Russia refuses to throw its lot in with the bankrupt Trans-Atlantic system, and instead chooses a Eurasian orientation, the Oxford-resident Pastukhov projects: "It can find itself stripped of most colonies and first and foremost Siberia, Far East, and the Caucasus that will be absorbed by China, Turkey, and probably Japan. What will then remain of Russia, deprived of natural riches, will keep stagnating until its neighbors decide that splitting it up and occupying is cheaper and less troublesome than all other options."
The Gorbachov newspaper's author paints a grim picture of Russia's "appalling technological backwardness," demographic conundrum, the underestimated factor of Siberian separatism, and the lulling mythologies within ruling layers about a Putin-centered "cult of stability." Pumping the scenario of territorial splintering, which he claims will be enhanced if the proposed new state corporations for Siberia and other areas are instituted, Pastukhov continues: "Considering the worsening demographic and technological crises, some experts already question Russia's ability to hold on to its vast territory much longer. We will soon be witnessing great battles for the outlying regions of the Russian Federation and first and foremost for Siberia."
Turning a blind eye to the ongoing existential crisis of Europe's economic and political structures, Pastukhov demands that Russia follow Trans-Atlantic leadership. He complains that "Putin and his entourage aspire to Western technologies without Western culture, political culture included, that make these technologies workable."
Novaya Gazeta is on record with vicious attacks on Russian Railways CEO Vladimir Yakunin and Far East Presidential Envoy Victor Ishayev for their advocacy of railroad and related infrastructure development in the Russian Far East and Siberia.
Likewise forecasting tumultuous times ahead for many Russian regions was a major report issued last week by Moscow's New Economic School (NES) on the impact of Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. The NES and the Higher Economic School, which work closely together, have established themselves since the 1990s as the country's premiere training and consulting institutions for monetarist policies. Both schools collaborate with the London School of Economics, the Wharton School, the Harvard Business School, MIT, Stanford, and so forth. The NES report on the WTO impact is the more striking, in that it is a pro-WTO document. The Moscow News of April 28 reported it as an endorsement of last month's speech by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov on the great benefits to Russia's "investment climate" from WTO membership. Neo-liberal economist Sergei Guriyev, the NES director who announced the report, seconded Shuvalov's language on the already agreed-upon (but not ratified) WTO accession, saying that it "will benefit the investment climate in this country."
The NES report promises that "consumers will benefit from a decrease in prices," because of slashed tariff barriers to cheap imports. It hypes monetarist dogmas, claiming that "a general increase in foreign investment is also expected due to a forced reduction in red tape and an increase in transparency, in accordance with the [WTO] rules" (paraphrase by the Moscow News). (In the first quarter of 2012, Russia suffered the highest capital flight since 2008.)
At the same time, "The authors of the study admit that some industries and regions will be hit worse than others," including the "agriculture and machinery sectors." That leaves about nothing except raw-materials extraction. Furthermore, pointing up the implications for social stability, "The study found that Russia's many single-industry towns, or 'monogorods,' will be hit hardest by entry into the trade organization. The country currently has 450 such towns, which the experts said will become hotspots of unemployment and depopulation as a result of the new trade laws. 'Production in monogorods that are not involved in the natural resources sector may plummet and unemployment will increase,' [NES economist] Volchkova told the news conference."