Friday, May 3, 2024

Putin Restoring Yet Another Feature of Soviet Past: The Promotion of Showy Giant Projects over Smaller Ones that could Help More Russians

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 30 – That Putin is restoring many of the features of the Soviet past is a commonplace given his increasingly repressive rule. But he is also reviving a feature of the Soviet past that Mikhail Gorbachev committed himself even before coming to power to ending: a clear preference of giant projects as opposed to those which might help more Russians.

            He has promoted giant railway, pipeline and shipping projects, the amalgamation of regions, and other enormous projects while cutting back on spending for repairs and modernization of existing facilities and for things like maintaining the capacity of the state to fight fires and floods and provide healthcare and education.

            The latest example of this is a discussion as to whether Moscow will improve access to Sakhalin by ship, a tunnel or a bridge, any of which would be enormously expensive and not benefit many people except perhaps psychologically (

            Such a project will of course allow Putin to divert government money to his cronies and perhaps make Russians as a whole feel that their country is capable of great things. But any successes on those grounds will be undercut by growing  anger over the increasingly obvious fact that the Kremlin isn’t meeting more immediate needs and apparently doesn’t care.

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