Sunday, February 11, 2018

Daghestani Purges Won’t Ensure Economic Improvement, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 11 – Unless the massive purges Moscow is conducting in Daghestan destroy the current system of corrupt ties, a task that may be beyond their capacity, these moves won’t guarantee the future economic success of the republic and may in the short term make the situation worse.

            On the one hand, experts say, if the purges succeed in forcing Makhachkala to report honestly what is going on, the new more accurate figures may show that the economy there is doing even worse than anyone suspects. And on the other, putting new people in place is not, as past attempts have shown, a guarantee that the problems in Daghestan will be overcome. 

            Irina Starodubrovskaya, a regional specialist at the Geydar Institute, tells Kavkaz-Uzel that in her view, Moscow’s current effort to destroy corruption in Daghestan “will lead to serious conflicts and will hardly be crowned by success ( Two other experts with whom that news agency spoke agree.

            Natalnya Zubarevich, a specialist on regional economics at Moscow State University, says that the real situation in Daghestan “is much worse than one might conclude on the basis of statistics.  Makhachkala reports far higher levels of income and far lower unemployment than anyone thinks are correct.

                While statistics for all North Caucasus republics are problematic, the Moscow scholar says, they are especially unreliable in the case of Daghestan making any assessment of just how bad things are now and how much they might improve. In her view, the economy matters because of budgetary stringencies in Moscow, but the real reasons for the purge are political. 

            The Kremlin wants “to show that the federal authorities are prepared to struggle with corruption.” What is going on in Daghestan can be used in support of such propaganda.  But, Zubarevich says, one should not confuse that with reality or changes in reality on the ground in that republic.

            The measures taken so far “ do not guarantee an improvement in the situation” there, she says.  “What will happen next? Will this give a push to the socio-economic development of the republic.” As far as that is concerned, Zubarevich says, she is “a great pessimist” because arrests and convictions aren’t enough by themselves to change the system

            But even more important, there is no clear way “to improve the socio-economic development of a republic in which there is no investment and in which there are very few quality work places.”  That is what Daghestan is today; and unless something unexpected happens, that is what it will be in the future as well.

            Economist Mikhail Delyagin. Who heads the Institute of the Problems of Globalization, agrees, adding that in his experience, it is even more difficult to estimate the size of the shadow economy in a particular region like Daghestan than it is to offer a figure for the Russian Federation as a whole.

            The current purges, he says, may frighten people for a time and thus improve things a little, “but how much” and for how long is “an open question.”

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