Monday, December 31, 2018

Macro-Economic Problems Won’t Spark Protests but Kremlin Acts of Deception Will, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 31 – Macro-economic problems like unemployment and falling incomes will not lead people to go into the streets and protest, Vladislav Inozemtsev says; but clear acts of deception by the Kremlin, be it over elections in 2011-2012 or concerning statistics now, are quite capable of doing so.

            That makes the controversy over Rosstat far more important than many imagine, the Moscow economist says. The Russian statistical agency has long been so inaccurate in its reporting that it was difficult to imagine that the situation could get worse,  but now it has (

            When the Kremlin decided to sack the director of Rosstat for inaccuracy, many expected that things would get better, Inozemtsev continues; but the new director followed in the footsteps of his predecessor and “corrected” earlier figures to the benefit of the regime, something that given the realities around them, many Russians view as an insulting display of deception.

            And that in turn leads to a loss of trust and creates the conditions on which serious protests can emerge. (Russians experienced this pattern when officials falsified election outcomes: protests arose. Now, they are seeing it in the economy where officials have compounded the real problems in that sector with “the big lie.”)

            This lie is happening even as the authorities “have begun a radical attack on the economic rights of Russians by raising the pension age and increasing a number of taxes and fees, including VAT.” No one expected miracles of the kind Putin promised, but Russians did expect they would be told the truth.  That is not happening, and all Russians can see and understand it.

            “The latest actions of Rosstat” in subservience to the Kremlin “directly tell Russians: you are slaves and the dregs of humanity. You do not deserve that the powers that be will consider your opinion in elections or even tell you the truth about the state of the economy, for the development of which you pay every day” without the promised returns.

            This trend in turn entails another: “it means that the only source of information about what is going on in the country has now become the subjective sense of its economic situation.” Having destroyed statistics, the powers that be have tried “a big lie.” But the people are turning away from it and them.
            And that does not bode well for the future of relations between the regime which is now openly lying and the population which sees these lies with an unaided eye.

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