Staunton, August 1 – Twenty years ago, Russian German analyst Aleksandr Rahr described Vladimir Putin as “the German in the Kremlin.” Now, Moscow economist Yevgeny Gontmakher says in alarm that the Kremlin leader is rapidly transforming the Russian Federation into a remake of the German Democratic Republic as East Germany was formally known.
Putin is no longer issuing strategic plans or even new “decrees” about the future because he hasn’t met any of them, an outcome that he and his regime are working hard to blame on the pandemic rather than acknowledging their own mistakes, the economist says (mk.ru/politics/2020/08/01/rossiya-prevratitsya-v-gdr-tendencii-socialnoekonomicheskogo-razvitiya-strany-nastorazhivayut.html).
“The level of professionalism of the powers that be is already so low that ‘national projects, developed in connection with the previous ‘May’ degrees don’t correspond to reality, as the Accounting Chamber has shown in its analysis,” Gontmakher says. And the Kremlin isn’t issuing anything similar now.
The absence of any clear plan prompts one to ask, he continues, “what is going to happen with Russia.” Its overall course is clear: “Russia will lose yet another decade in its economic and social development” if it continues as it is going now and will soon resemble Erich Honecker’s East Germany.
Gontmakher lists 12 ways in which this is so:
1. “The political system will finally be transformed into a laughable decoration” rather than reality with elections occurring only with results “known in advance.”
2. “Any social activity not sanctioned by the authorities even if it does not have an openly political character, will be blocked.”
3. There will be “an informal but total censorship of the media” on anything concerning the state.
4. “The Internet will work according to the Chinese model, with ‘undesirable’ sites and content blocked.”
5. “Digitalization will allow for the complete control of the activities of any individual at work, on the street, in public places and often in the home.”
6. “The borders will still be open but mostly for emigration of those who disagree with the powers or think differently,” an arrangement the powers will support in order to get rid of such people and make the control of those who remain easier.
7. “The Russian economy as before will be based on the export of oil, gas and other raw materials. But the size of this export will constantly fall because of low prices on world markets” and changes in patterns of energy consumption.
8. “The Russian economy not only will not become the fifth-largest in the world in absolute terms” but may fall further down the list as others grow.
9. The government will claim victories in the fight against poverty but only by using completely falsified statistics.
10. Quality medical care will be available to those Russians who can pay for it, but most Russians won’t have the money to do so and their health will deteriorate.
11. “Schools will made into places where children are intensively ‘trained’ to follow the spiritual bindings” the Kremlin wishes to promote. Other subjects will suffer right up through universities.
12. Movie theaters will show “only those pictures which promote ‘positive feelings’ in people toward the order put in place in the country.”
Having composed this list, Gontmakher says, he realizes the analogy with East Germany may not be the most appropriate one. Instead, he says, Putin is taking Russia in the direction of Orwell’s 1984 and everyone except perhaps Putin and his cronies will suffer as a result.