|12 December 2008
Many people thought that the economic and political model built in Russia in 2005-2007 provides for a stable consensus between authorities and the middle-class: as economy was booming, authorities gave people an opportunity to earn and spend money in exchange of their silent acceptance that they are increasingly deprived of their civil rights and liberties. But this model now started to dissolve since it had been based only on expensive oil and cheap loans from the West.
In my speeches and statements a year ago I gave a detailed account of our economic developments in the nearest future. Then Russian authorities were preoccupied with the .succession. and paid no attention to these forecasts and warnings. But they turned out to be true. Now the Russian economical miracle has collapsed: oil price is down, and there is no more .cheap. money to borrow. The signs of crisis are abound: enterprises are closing down, construction sites are being frozen, trade surplus is dramatically reduced, spending is increased to tackle the numerous problems and budget deficit is back, unemployment is growing, inflation is still high, people convert their ruble holdings into foreign currency.
But Russian authorities are still hoping that economical crisis will be resolved and disappear away by itself. So they prefer to take no decisions and believe that enough money has been accumulated to withstand this crisis. I label this behavior option A. Authorities bet that soon everything will go the same way as previously. But they are wrong: the model they have built is dead and we will never come back to .prosperous 2007.. But relying on these impractical prospects they risk to miss the moment after which nothing will depend on them, including their own fate.
But there is also an option B: the authorities have to understand their mistakes and in accordance with the Constitution fully reinstate civil and political freedoms and the institute of elections as such to choose the new way of development, providing for people.s wide participation in decision-making process. Without this political change no economic program will make any sense and will not help to get out of the crisis. Currently is no longer a matter which can be resolved at the top without the whole society getting involved.
As time passes there are fewer chances to get out of this systemic crisis without a catastrophe. But I still hope that we can do it.
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