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Russia
 
  Vladimir Putin is going to stay

Vadim Volovoj, Doctor in Political Sciences
2007 06 01

Theoretically 26 April was the last day when the Russian president V. Putin addressed the Federal Assembly. This article analyses several issues of this address by focusing on the general idea of „the Russian road“.

Tendencies of economy

The idea of four national projects (medicine, education, agriculture and housing) is investment to people. But the most important thing is opportunities of implementation of these projects: it is not enough only to allocate money; the money has to be used effectively, however, one of the key Russian problems – corruption – prevents from reaching this goal.

When speaking about the Stabilization Fund, the president indicated that it was necessary to correct functions and structure of the Fund and that it was time to start using the money for strengthening of the Russian economy. Therefore he suggested dividing the Fund into three parts: stabilization, social and innovative, and to use the latter for projects dealing with modernization of economy.

One of the most interesting ideas about the economy was the idea of establishing a nuclear energy corporation. Some time ago a corporate aviation company has been established, afterwards – a huge shipbuilding corporation, now – a huge nuclear energy company, which should realize „the second large scale electrification of the country“ (during the period of 12 years it is envisaged to build 26 nuclear units).

A question arises: what is the extent of justification of the strategy for establishment of huge industrial holdings controlled by the state? It is assumed that in the case of Russia it is justified. Particularity of this country (geography, climate conditions etc.) dictates the necessity of stronger role of the state regarding economy. However, according to V. Putin, the state should play the role of a catalyst (guarantees to investors and the initial capital for development), and later companies should attract profit themselves.

Peculiarities of foreign policy

There’s worth while highlighting several aspects related to foreign policy in V. Putin’s speech. The first is related to confrontation with the West. „There has been an increasing influx of money from abroad being used to intervene directly in our internal affairs.[...]. The aim is the same – to ensure unilateral gains and one’s own advantage, and to pursue one’s own interests“. There was no mentioning of cooperation with the United States. However, V. Putin did mention positive relations between Russia and the EU, although recently these relations are not as good as could be expected.  This could mean that in the West the Russian enemies are the Americans, and not the Europeans. The statements on withdrawal of Russia from the Conventional Forces of Europe Treaty are from a series of elements regarding the struggle against dislocation of the US PRGS elements in Europe. They sound like a political blackmail and demonstration of the „Russian power“ to foreign and internal audience.

The second moment is the focus on the CIS space. V. Putin has also supported the candidacy of Kazakhstan for the presidency of OSCE and further steps towards the union with Belarus. It looks like the strategy of „joining“ the CIS space  under the wing of Russia has got the shape. Its essence is mutual economic benefit.

One more specific moment is V. Putin‘s position on more active work with the Russian nationals abroad. The Russian language plays here a specific humanitarian role as a resource of the Russian soft power in the post-soviet space. The president approved the idea of establishment of the National Russian Language Foundation  which should popularize the Russian language in the world and especially in the near abroad.

Essential issues

In the report the Russian president expressed his belief that „society can set and achieve ambitious national goals only if it has a common system of moral guidelines. We will be able to achieve our goals only if we maintain respect for our native language, for our unique cultural values, for the memory of our forebears and for each page of our country’s history.  The essence of this long quotation is that in the future Russia must again become the great imperial messianistic Russia. And efforts should be made so as to make every Russian be proud of the Great Russia.

Let‘s assume that V. Putin really wants to create such Russia. Then the key issue is continuity of power. In this respect V. Putin‘s speech is specifically directed towards the future. He said quite a lot about the ongoing and future long-term projects. When speaking about the coming elections to Duma, he noted that this would be the test of continuity of the policy of authorities.

Thus, it seems that V. Putin is going to remain in the power. Not necessarily personally, but first of all in the shape of his and his team‘s initiated policy, the key goal of which is to reinstate the glory of Russia. That is why he said that it was premature for him to write a will and avoided the philosophical generalization of the period of his presidency. And it is not so important what role will be played by V. Putin himself (chairman of public council or chairman of the power party; but certainly not the head of one of joint companies, since this would mean subordination, and he should not be in power but at the same time be above it).

Conclusions

„The next State of the Nation address will be given by another head of the State“, - said V. Putin. However, this does not mean that his era is coming to an end. In his speech V. Putin let understand that his withdrawal is only the beginning of his and his team‘s power, and that there is no power in the world which could prevent him from realizing the sacred mission to rescue Russia.

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