Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Putin’s Latest ‘Import Substitution’ – Pensioners from Abroad Instead of Pensioners from Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 6 – Vladimir Putin’s pension reform has taken on a whole new dimension, Igor Yakovenko says. Because few Russians will live to pension age if the Kremlin gets its way and boosts retirement ages, the Russian government has begun to “import pensioners from the West.”

            This process began in 2013 when Putin gave Russian citizenship to Gerard Depardieu “instantly” upon being asked, a status ethnic Russian refugees from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and elsewhere have sought for years, the Moscow commentator says, almost tongue in cheek (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5B6718EC8213F).

                After Putin’s action, the Mordvinians gave him a home, the Udmurts made the French actor “’an honorary Udmurt,” and Chechnya made him an honorary citizen of Chechnya and gave him the keys to a five-room apartment in Grozny.  Depardieu in response constantly said that he “very much loves Russia.”

            But then he took his keys and “went to live in the south of Belgium and declared that in the future he would live in Algeria. In making these latest declarations, the French actor said not a word about his time in Russia.

            Despite that, Putin more recently not only gave Steve Siegel Russian citizenship but gave him a job in the Russian foreign ministry as special representative for Russian-American cultural-humanitarian relations.  Siegel at 66 is a pensioner even under the proposed Russian rules, “but he is full of energy and has a good memory.”

            “Suddenly,” Yakovenko says, Siegel “began to recall his Buryat or Mongol roots.” He announced that he recalls a picture of his ancestors sitting in Mongol clothes. “Possibly, Steven Siegel doesn’t know that Mongolia is another country.” Perhaps the foreign ministry’s Maria Zakharova explained that to him. Certainly “Putin’s militant Buryat” sounds better.

            “The idea of pensioner import substitution is extremely important and with real prospects,” Yakovenko says.  The only mistake the Russian foreign ministry has made in this case is forgetting that the real representatives of Moscow’s public diplomacy aren’t old actors but the private military companies like the Vagner group.

            Of course, even Siegel, not to mention the West, will understand that soon enough. 

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