Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Russian Officials Face Changes as Unwelcome to Themselves as Pension Age Plans are to Population, Solovey Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 18 – Having voted to retain Vladimir Putin for another term, ordinary Russians have already experienced a “post-election surprise” in the form of the Russian government’s plan to boost the pension age. What is clear, Valery Solovey tells Rosbalt’s Vasily Yurovsky, is that officials also will be facing some unwelcome changes as well.

                “Two key factors influence the system,” the MGIMO professor says. “The first is the contraction in resources, in part as the result of intensifying pressure from the West. The second is the approaching ‘transition,’ that is, all elite groups have the sense that the Putin era is ending, but they still have no idea what will follow” (

                Officials may take various political positions, he says; but their chief concern is “to try to preserve the material possessions.”  They aren’t going to be able to keep the current system going forever because “as soon as the guarantor who created the system leaves the scene, the system will fall apart.”
            “This may take months or perhaps a year or two,” but the process will leave those who have learned how to fit into this system in the extremely challenging position of having to learn how to fit into another – or finding themselves on the outside looking in because many of them won’t be able to do so.

             According to Solovey, Russian officials at present “live according to their instincts. If we speak about influence groups, everything in Russia now is arranged so that one need not do anything. One simply strengthens one’s position, and all challenges, risks and threats tend to dissipate.”

            “Before 2014,” he says, “politicians were followers of a different strategy. The entire world lay at their feet. They started from the notion that the increase in the price of oil would be eternal and that their resources would grow in an infinite way, allowing them to become part of the global elite, of those who run the world.”

            And from that perspective, they viewed Putin and the siloviki as a force that could “destroy all obstacles so that they could achieve this goal for themselves.  What happened in 2014, even for Putin’s closest friends, was a catastrophic unexpected development. They are trying to adapt, [but] their instincts in general aren’t changing.”

            As a result, the changes in their environment in the coming months and years are going to be even harder for them to cope with. Adaption for many won’t be an option. And it is entirely possible that some of them will begin to recognize that.    

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