Monday, October 28, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Under Putin, Russia Becoming a Third World Country, Nationalists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 28 – Russian nationalists and others have regularly criticized Vladimir Putin for building an economy and hence a state that relies on the export of raw materials rather than the development of industry and investment in human capital. But now two of them have stepped up this attack and argued that Putin is making Russia “a third world country.”
            Such suggestions are exaggerations, but just like assertions at the end of Soviet Times that the USSR had become “an Upper Volta with missiles,” they clearly touch a nerve and a re likely to mobilize both those with a specifically nationalist agenda and those broader groups that are troubled by Putin’s failure to promote industry and invest in education and science.

            Speaking with Tatyana Felgengauer on Ekho Moskvy, Stanislav Belkovsky argued that to understand what is happening in Russia today, one needs to recognize that “Russia is ever more becoming a third world country,” a development that he argued is “the main negative result of the rule of Vladimir Putin” (

            Liberals who think that Putin has established a dictatorship are wrong, the Russian nationalist commentator continues.  “There is no dictatorship … never have the Russian people known such day-to-day freedoms” as under his rule.  But unfortunately that is not the only thing the Russian president has brought.

            According to Belkovsky, the country has declined into “a catastrophic provincialism” that recalls the third world, and he remiands that “the struggle with provincialism aalways was the main motive of the social existence of the Russian man,” a struggle which occupied “a significant part of great Russian literature, including in particular all of Chekhov.”

            “Under conditions of such provincialness,” Belkovsky says, “inter-national and inter-ethnic relations can only intensify because provincialness leads to the growth of social depression,” and with depression comes anger at anyone who is immediately available and viewed as different even if they are not responsible for the problems.

            Less elegantly but more pointedly the Debryanskaya Rus regional blog makes the same point, lashing out at Putin’s reliance on the export of raw materials and on the east rather than the west (

            “The Eurasians talk a lot about the rebirth of the country thanks to Putin,” the blogger begins, “but what useful thing has Russia produced over the last 13 years? Except for rockets, except for the modification of aging tanks and the modification of no less aging arms? What has it produced that is “useful and really competitive in the international market? Compuers? The Internet? Machines” Non-military technology?”

            Russian elites offer nothing else on the post-industrial market. Insteadthey  oil and gas in order to buy Western technology while proclaiming to the rest of the population that Russia has a “special path” and that Russians must focus on their special “spirituality.”  Indeed, it can be said that “Rusiaan bureaucrats and businessmen technically (and in certain cases biologically) live in the West.

            This is not the result of any conspiracy or monopoly by the Americans, the blogger continues. It is simply that “the countrires of estern civilization are in a constant search” for the new and better and are open to all kinds of change.  The West, he says, “has offered Russia the chance to get involved in the same thing.”

            But “Russian bureaucrats and part of the population have decisively declared that they do not want us to do that, that we have a special path, either Soviet or Orthodox, or Soviet-Orthodox” which keeps Russia from developing and its population from flourishing as the country and people should.

            “How is in possible to speak about some special path of development for Russia? What’s needs to begin with is borrowing thefundamental values of Western civilization in order on the basis of them to think about the formation of our own cuture, already in the framework of these values” and not some that are now out of date.

            Russia must be “a Western country” not a “Eurasian” or third world one, he concludes. Otherwise the future will be very bleak indeed.

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