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Streetwise Professor

December 20, 2011

Kudrin Speaks

Filed under: Economics,Financial Crisis II,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 10:07 am

Alexei Kudrin is maintaining a relatively high profile of late.  His name has been mentioned as a potential leader of a liberal party in Russia.  Perhaps most interestingly, Putin has dropped hints that Kudrin, who was unceremoniously dumped by Medvedev when he spoke out against profligate government spending, could have a high level post in a Putin presidency.  I interpret this as Putin’s attempt to discredit Kudrin in the eyes of those opposed to Putin.  In the murky world of Russian politics, who knows?  But Putin made these remarks after Kudrin offered some outspoken comments on the Russian political system, so the possibilities are (a) Kudrin is really independent, and Putin is trying to undercut him by raising doubts about that independence, and (b) Kudrin is really just playing a role as a faux oppositionist crafted for him by Putin’s political technologists in order to divide and channel the opposition.  But if it were (b), why would Putin insinuate that Kudrin was still inside the Putin tent?  So I’m going with (a).

Kudrin’s criticism of government policy is not limited to politics.  It also focuses on economic policy.  He gave an interview for RiaNovosti which is quite interesting.  The most interesting bit:

You said in a recent interview that the second wave of the crisis is already here. What will Russia be like once it’s over?- Russia is entering this crisis in a more weakened state. Though more experienced in dealing with crises, Russia’s international reserves have shrunk since last time, while its dependence on oil exports has grown. This could make things more difficult for Russia when the downturn unfolds. But I hope that the plunge will not be as deep this time. I am certain that Russian will be able to address most of the problems successfully. I would only suggest a proactive effort to reduce our oil dependency, although this will require a revision of defense spending along with some other decisions, such as raising the retirement age. This will give Russia more confidence in the face of an uncertain future. All countries are doing this now and Russia is no exception. The high oil prices and the small reserves, which can only last us a year maybe, are a thin cushion for a slump like the one in 2008. We also need to think about the future, the post-crisis years. It isn’t good to cut costs during a downturn because this always makes the decline steeper. If Russia becomes better prepared, cost cutting will not be necessary, which will certainly benefit the general business situation. The government should never cut costs in times of crisis because this policy aggravates problems and makes them snowball. The government increased spending during the last crisis. At the moment, it appears that we have increased spending in the lead up to a new crisis, and we will probably be unable to keep them at the same level during a new crisis. This is where the problem is rooted. If we do not take proactive measures, Russia will be hit harder and will emerge from the new crisis weaker than last time.

Sounds about right to me.  But note that it also goes directly counter to Putin’s populist election campaign.  It will be fascinating to keep an eye on Kudrin, and the Putin-Kudrin dynamic over the next 3 months leading up to the presidential vote, and the months after that.

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11 Comments »

  1. Russia is ranked 130th in global charity in a new study of 153 nations conducted by the UK’s Charities Aid Foundation.

    http://en.rian.ru/society/20111220/170392259.html

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 20, 2011 @ 11:53 am

  2. Life News, a favorite “source” of SUBLIME PSYCHOPATH, outed as being in the Kremlin’s pocket.

    http://twitter.com/#!/niktwick/status/149184467494371329

    Surprise, surprise, surprise.

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 20, 2011 @ 11:54 am

  3. Boris Nemtsov and Navalny, great La Russophobe and SWP heroes, outed calling their own supporters “cattle”, “vegetables”, and “hamsters.”

    Surprise, surprise, surprise.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 20, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

  4. ^ PS. And, as SWP himself might say, who are the real Russophobes?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 20, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

  5. SUBLIME PSYCHOPATH:

    Are you going to acknowledge that the Strasbourg court has entered a 1.6 MILLION judgment against Russia for violation of the rights of the Dubrovka hostages? The court has found that the Kremlin was as harmful to the victims of the Dubrovka siege as the terrorists.

    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/strasbourg-awards-dubrovka-hostages-16m/450253.html

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 21, 2011 @ 4:06 am

  6. SUBLIME PSYCHOPATH:

    You are, of course, lying. We do not call the opposition cattle or vegetables, we reserve those terms for the vast majority of the Russian population that does NOT oppose Putin, the two-thirds of the country that lacks Internet access and relies on state-controlled TV for their news. We use those words, and many much stronger terms, because they are accurate. Russia is a nation of cattle, a failing nation with a declining population and a tiny economy that can barely feed itself, where the vast majority of the citizens do nothing to change their fate.

    And we have consistently criticized not just the pathetic protest movement but also the outrageously stilted and inaccurate Western reporting on that movement. We have said repeatedly that the conduct of the movement’s leadership, including Nemtsov and Navalny, has been totally inadequate and meaningless, and we have said it over and over and over again.

    Meanwhile, you yourself openly admit that Vladimir Putin’s party (now OFFICIAL) shamelessly stole the vote in the capital and largest city. Yet you blithely continue to support Putin’s reelection, ignoring unquestionable proof of both personal corruption and policy failure. You are a deranged lunatic who, along with the rest of Putin’s cohort, is helping mightly to bring Russia to her knees (again).

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 21, 2011 @ 4:12 am

  7. Record-breaking capital flight in Putin’s Russia BEFORE electoral turmoil arose. Now?

    http://en.rian.ru/business/20111221/170406792.html

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 21, 2011 @ 6:54 am

  8. LR, “we” don’t care what you call Russians – opposition or not.

    What “we” are talking about is how Nemtsov calls his own supporters “hamsters” and Navalny calls his own supporters “vegetables” and “cattle.” I.e., that small percentage of Russians that you don’t want to massacre.

    Comprende?

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 21, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  9. “La Russophobe outed calling their own supporters “cattle”, “vegetables”, and “hamsters.”

    That’s what you wrote you lying drunken jackass. Granted it is not suprising that not even you read what you write.

    Comment by La Russophobe — December 21, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

  10. No, I was referring to Boris Nemtsov and Navalny, who are “great La Russophobe and SWP heroes.”

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — December 21, 2011 @ 6:49 pm

  11. Sublime Oblivion must have gotten into BERKeley on some sort of affirmative action program for those with cognitive disabilities methinks….

    Comment by Andrew — December 22, 2011 @ 4:08 am

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