President of Russia Vladimir Putin in his message to the Federal Assembly, he will voice the topics of vaccination, indexation of pensions for working pensioners, raising the standard of living of citizens and supporting the economy. This assumption was expressed by the first deputy head of the social committee of the Federation Council Valery Ryazansky…
Former spokesman for the president Dmitry Peskov said that the head of state will deliver an annual message on April 21.
How justified are Ryazansky’s expectations? Will the message really be more about social issues? Should we expect real steps, or will it all come down to a traditional talking shop?
– Valery Ryazansky most likely simply lists the topics that he would like to see in the president’s message to United Russia – it is important for the United Russia to get the opportunity to actively use social rhetoric during the election campaign, – I am sure Dmitry Galkin, political columnist for the 2000 newspaper…
– Since the state leadership is also interested in raising the electoral rating of United Russia, it is likely that some of the problems named by Ryazansky will indeed be touched upon in Vladimir Putin’s parliamentary message. But, I think, the content of the message will not be limited to social issues. It is important for the President to emphasize that he is not going to conflict with the West, but at the same time he will strictly suppress any attempts of political protest. Therefore, part of the message will be devoted to foreign policy issues and calls for combating attempts at external interference in the Russian political process.
“SP”: – Chwhat is there with indexation to working pensioners? Will they finally make a decision? Why hasn’t this been done yet?
– The fact that working pensioners were deprived of indexation contradicts the norms of the Constitution, which does not say anything that a person who continues to work is deprived of the right to full-fledged pension provision. However, this violation will be eliminated only on the eve of the parliamentary elections. Moreover, the importance of such a step (in fact, we are talking about relatively small amounts) will be inflated and exaggerated in every possible way.
“SP”: – It became known that Putin demanded to achieve outrunning growth of incomes of the population and an increase in investment in regions from the list of lagging behind. Should we expect any concrete steps to be announced? And how realistic is it in the current situation?
– Probably, some measures will be developed to increase the income of citizens and improve the financial situation of the regions. But the effectiveness of these measures will be approximately the same as the Food Program of 1982, with the help of which the Soviet leadership hoped to end the shortage of meat and dairy products. As you know, nothing came of this venture, because within the framework of the socio-economic course that was being pursued at that time, it was fundamentally impossible to solve this problem.
Likewise, in modern Russia, it is impossible to achieve an increase in the income of citizens in the context of declining oil and gas exports and improve the economic situation in depressed regions without ending the current centralization of political power and financial flows. Since the current government is not going to change the structure of the economy and the system of state administration, the good wishes expressed by the president are simply impossible to translate into reality.
“SP”: – As for the fight against poverty … Earlier, Alexei Kudrin said that it is possible to achieve a reduction in the level of poverty in Russia by half before 2030. Is it real?
– Kudrin, as can be seen from his statement, he simply confuses poverty with poverty (as is customary in Russian official rhetoric). People who will receive benefits from the state, which he proposes to establish, will not go hungry. But they will, of course, remain poor, as their incomes will be substantially below the median wages. Moreover, the number of the poor (those whose incomes are less than 50% of the median salary), it seems to me, will increase significantly in the coming years due to the decline in the number of jobs in industry and retail.
“SP”: – What else can the president say? There are rumors that decisions may be made to nationalize certain enterprises?
– Many enterprises in the field of mechanical engineering were on the verge of closure. Therefore, it is quite possible that the state will decide to take on the costs of their maintenance. Nationalization of such enterprises is the only way to save them from closure and their employees from dismissal. So the topic related to the nationalization of enterprises will most likely really be touched upon in the president’s parliamentary message.
If the process of nationalization of unprofitable enterprises really begins, then the authorities will need laws that create the necessary legal basis for this. And the president in his message will give the parliament a corresponding instruction. Since the very idea of nationalization is quite popular in Russian society, the head of state may want to demonstrate that this course is being carried out on his initiative.
“SP”: – What about the political situation in Russia will be? Hints on Power Transition Scenarios? Parting words before the elections to the State Duma?
– The government wants to mothball the current situation for an indefinite period, since it does not yet have a scenario for the transit of power that would be supported by all groups that control significant property or are directly related to the country’s top leadership. Therefore, in the message, most likely, there will not even be a hint of the possibility of political changes, and the current State Duma will certainly be praised by the president. It is clear that public approval of the Duma’s activities, if it is really expressed in the message, will indicate the need to preserve the current composition of the lower house of parliament.
“SP”: – You say that part of the message will be devoted to foreign policy issues. Ukraine, Donbass, relations with the USA and the EU – will there be something interesting?
– I think that nothing new awaits us, and the foreign policy part of the message will be reduced to the repetition of ritual statements. The President will once again call on the US and the EU to return to equal partnership relations (although it is already obvious that the West does not want to view Russia as an equal partner). Claims will be made against Ukraine for not fulfilling the Minsk agreements. It is possible that in this regard, Vladimir Putin will openly support the distribution of Russian citizenship to the residents of Donbass. But the Russian authorities will not publicly announce any serious steps on the foreign policy scene, since they want to retain complete freedom of action.
– In Russia, over the past few years, a lot of laws have been adopted limiting democratic institutions, – reminds Evgeny Valyaev, political analyst of the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society Institutions “People’s Diplomacy”… – In Russia, an anti-liberal consensus has formed among the ruling elite, in which elections and human rights were designated as phenomena harmful to the state that must be brought under control. Recently, Vladimir Putin signed a law on the zeroing of presidential terms, abolishing the change of power; the law on educational activities, which introduces strict state regulation in the field of education and puts a de facto ban on contacts with foreign colleagues; the law on penalties for the rehabilitation of Nazism and the dissemination of false information about veterans, which introduces censorship on discussion of the history of the twentieth century.
All these censorship laws curtailing the concepts of democracy and human rights in Russia should, in theory, be exchanged for economic growth and growth in the well-being of the population. Therefore, in the message, one should expect conversations about future economic successes – they want to offer this idea to Russians as a state goal for the next decade, for the implementation of which they need to unite, close their eyes to democracy and human rights and endure in every possible way. It can even be assumed that in Putin’s speech it will be possible to find such a word as “be patient” or “endure”. Russians see no steps to improve their own well-being. Quite the opposite, because the increase in taxes and excise taxes, the tightening of money circulation, the rise in inflation and prices – all these changes hit the declining incomes of the population.
The topic of elections is painful for the authorities against the background of low government ratings, as well as against the background of a very high anti-rating of United Russia. And there is no visibility that Putin will begin to drag the ruling party to victory at the expense of his rating. Rather, the president will continue to distance himself from the political brand, which, without rebranding, is not able to again become an overwhelming political force in the regions. Therefore, the internal political bloc of the presidential administration should either abandon the monopoly of one party, relying on controlled multi-brand, or try to create a new brand that will be even more connected with the president than it was with United Russia. This is a medium-term task, and this year’s elections will have to be worked out through an active struggle against the local opposition in a controlled electoral process.
Poverty reduction could be a word of mouth for the government in the coming years. But as we have seen before, statistics can be manipulated to your advantage, claiming that in Russia, the middle class is about 70 percent of the country’s population with an income of one minimum wage. Although one minimum wage allows people in Russia to survive and not live, which is not a characteristic of the middle class.
The growth of the Russian economy is difficult to expect from foreign investment amid deteriorating relations with the West, so the government again hopes that high oil and gas prices will be able to cover the increasing social costs. The government has no real plan of what to do in the event of a new fall in energy prices. We already saw this during the pandemic, when at first we decided to introduce strict quarantine, and then realized that we were simply not able to pay for it.
Russia can be helped by openness, increased investment attractiveness, a stake on private initiative, assistance to small and medium-sized businesses, and tax cuts. But in modern Russia, the top is rather discussing the adaptation for Russia of the South Korean system based on chaebols *. Although under such a system, the social responsibility of business fades into the background, and the task of increasing exports comes to the fore.
It is noticeable that the Russian ruling elite is looking for answers among the Asian political and economic systems. Sergei Sobyanin likes to refer to the experience of Singapore, the environment Mishustina the system of South Korean chaebols is interesting, and in Russia they want to make the Internet according to the level of censorship and active government regulation according to the Chinese model. Previously, they tried to copy Western approaches, but friendship did not work out – now they decided to copy Eastern practices. The Russians, unfortunately, do not look at it from the outside, but are guinea pigs.
* Chaebol – a system of financial and industrial groups that emerged in South Korea after the Korean War and still exists today, consisting of formally independent companies that belong to the same family and are under a single administrative and financial control.