Pavel Felgenhauer has a piece that ties together the threads of two recent SWP Russia posts, one on protectionism, and the other on the appalling risks of Russian transport:
The Russian transport infrastructure crisis took years to unfold and is indeed manmade. From 2000 to 2010 under Putin the number of civilian aircraft (planes and helicopters) declined from 6,500 to 6,000, while the number of relatively new ones (5 to 15 years old) declined from 57 percent to 7.2 percent. The number of aircraft 15 to 30 years old increased from 40 percent to 58 percent and aircraft over 30 years of age increased from 1.7 percent to 27.6 percent (Vedomosti, July 12). This collapse in quality was directly promoted by Putin’s policies of supporting Russia’s ailing aircraft industry by protective tariffs. Putin has been deliberately sabotaging Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) to keep high tariffs on aircraft, cars and other industrial produce. The result is disastrous: Russian air companies were anyway forced to import aircraft, because aviation industry could not build new planes of necessary quality or numbers to replace the decaying fleet. But imports tended to be also cheap and old – second hand assets.
Recently the government has began to lift some aircraft import tariffs, but it is too late – the time for an orderly and gradual modernization has been squandered – there is no spare production capacity in the world that could help Russia put its transport infrastructure in order. Putin has been boasting about the success of government support for the automobile industry by protective tariffs and subsidies. Russia’s roads are still being filled by millions of cheap, ugly and unsafe Lada cars that poison the environment and kill more Russians in crashes than planes or boats (Vedomosti July 12).
More good work there. More wonderful unintended consequences–or should I say more indifference to the real consequences.
But hey! Forget all that. Putin’s Army Wants You!:
“I’m crazy about the person who has changed our country. He is a prominent politician and an awesome man. His name is Vladimir Putin. Millions of people adore and trust him” says Diana, the narrator of the video.
Get that? He’s freakin’ awesome. Like totally. Never mind the corruption and the corpses.
What makes this video particularly funny is that it is taken on the banks of the Moskva River, and not too far by my recollection from where the tour boat I wrote about the other day docked–and in the background of one of the shots, there is a tour boat on the river that looks pretty much like the one I was on.