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  • Author: Graeme P. Herd
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: In the wake of the global financial crisis, a debate over necessary policy responses morphed into something much more profound and fundamental – the sustainability of Russia's current governance model and its preferred longer-term modernization paradigm. On 10 September 2009 President Medvedev published a remarkably frank article entitled 'Russia, Forward!' This article noted that Russia's governance model appeared to be failing, proving vulnerable in the face of the global financial crisis. President Medvedev himself criticized Russia's 'humiliating' dependence on raw materials, as well as its 'inefficient economy, a semi-Soviet social sphere, an immature democracy, negative demographic trends, unstable Caucasus.' In his 12 November 2009 Message to the Federal Assembly, Medvedev elaborated further on this theme: Russia could either modernize or deteriorate; modernization would provide a touchstone for 'how we can overcome our chronic backwardness, dependence on raw materials exports, and corruption'. On 3 February 2010, the Institute for Contemporary Development (INSOR) published a report that received widespread coverage entitled 21st Century Russia: The Image of Tomorrow We Want. As President Medvedev had created INSOR in 2008 to give him independent advice on economic and foreign policy and sat as a trustee on its board, this report received widespread publicity. Such publicity was magnified as the report touched just about every exposed nerve by advocating that Russia should join NATO, end censorship, abolish the state security service, and adopt a Western-style democracy, entailing the separation of the courts from the state, of the legislative branch from the executive, horizontal modernization (characterized as the debureaucratization of the vertical top-down corrupt, over-regulated economic process)3. Without change, Russia faced a strategic cul de sac that leads to slow and steady strategic marginalization: 'In a few years, when it turns out that Russia has nothing to boast about except export supplies of raw materials at prices that are dictated to us, we will be exporting people. And, not only the cleverest like now, but any workers, who are in demand in Europe, as is happening today in Latvia, for example. I frankly do not know what Russia should do in this situation. This problem will be one of the main ones for the president who is elected in 2012
  • Topic: Democratization, Global Recession, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Latvia