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Boris Nemtsov: Dictatorship or Perestroika

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The following is an exclusive translation from Grani.ru.

Dictatorship or perestroika

By Boris Nemtsov, Grani.ru

The crisis has shown the complete incompetency and weakness of the state built by Putin. The main feature of “putinism” – an inability to adapt to new conditions, external threats, crises. Under the leadership of Putin, Russia has lost immunity to the crisis, and has experienced a significantly greater hit than all the other countries that have caught the virus.

Therefore, the main anti-crisis measure – this is the resignation of Putin and his government, as the architects of an incompetent, weak state. Without this decision, citizens are going to writhe convulsively, observing how the national leader conducts experiments on the country.

In the conditions of the crisis, all the countries of the world haveone and the same problem – an intensification of the role of the state.If a state is strong, then all decisions that are adopted by the statereach the addressees. If a state is weak – the money is pilfered enroute. This is putinite Russia. We have a state that has huge money andthat talks about trying to save the economy from crisis. Into thisstate, like into a black box, officials throw huge sums of money – 200bln dollars have already disappeared there. But they do not get toeither the citizens or to enterprises.

It turned out that the Russia that is getting back up on its feet,the one that sends ships to Venezuela, and planes – to inspect thespace around Europe, is going through a crises significantly heavierthan that of many other countries. The deficit of the Russian budget inDecember to the year 2008 attained 20% of GDP. Such a deficit existedat the moment of the breakup of the USSR. Both then and now, Russiaentered into the new year without a budget. Budget-2009, calculatedproceeding from a price for oil of 95 dollars per barrel and adoptedwithout a hitch by the pseudoparliament, is not the main financialdocument of the country. It is tragicomic that the budget was adoptedin October, when oil was already costing 62 dollars per barrel.

The prime-minister adopted important “anti-crisis” decisions, aboutwhich he is now ashamed to speak: he established the level forunemployment compensation at 4900 rubles and raised the tariffs for theservices of natural monopolies (during the course of the year 2009, theprice for gas will rise by 27.5%, for electricity by 25%, for railroadshipments – by 20%). It was none other than the premier who adopteddecisions on the supporting of an unrealistic exchange rate for theruble, which cost Russia 200 bln dollars, the asocial decision onraising the payroll tax – the unified social tax (ESN). Such decisionin any country entail a prompt resignation.

Furthermore, it was decided to help oligarchic groups. There isespecial cynicism in that the help to them is rendered from theNational Welfare Fund. This is a sacred fund, its funds can be spentexclusively on payments of pensions – but they were handed out to thefamous oligarch-bankruptee Deripaska (4.5 bln dollars, with his debtsof 30 bln dollars and assets that are clearly not enough to cover thedebts) and Putin’s closest friends, Sechin and Bogdanchikov, for thesupport of the biggest Russian oil company “Rosneft”. Furthermore, itis being planned (or maybe it has already been secretly carried out byVEB) to allocate money to Abramovich – to his company “Evraz” – in anamount of 1.8 bln dollars, as well as to his partner-in-businessChemezov, who is hoping to get 7 bln dollars. There are severalarticles in this regard in the Criminal Code: exceeding officialauthority with the causing of grave consequences (art. 286, para 3;punishment – deprivation of liberty for a term of from three to tenyears with the loss of the right to occupy certain posts or to engagein certain activity for a term of up to three years) and use ofextrabudgetary funds not as intended (art. 285).

Yet another criminal decision – to allocate 175 bln rubles for thesupport of the stock market of Russia (this money was allocated by VEB,where Putin is the chairman of the board of trustees). The stock marketof Russia collapsed after this by 75-80% – more than the other stockmarkets of the world. And the blue chips, at which this support oughtto have been directed, lost even more value the shares of Sberbank -minus 85%. In any democratic country, the giving out of money with anincomprehensible method of expenditure and with a result in the form ofthe crashing of the shares of state companies – this is a subject ofcriminal prosecution.

We have ourselves a situation in which huge money – 200 bln dollars- has been allocated, but they did not get to the economy; the economy,including industry, are falling. An indicator of the state of theRussian economy – the drop in railroad shipments: since the start ofthe year, they have fallen by 36%. It is obvious that the reserves thatexist in the country are going to be frittered away completely duringthe course of the year 2009 and the country will enter into a defaultregime already towards the end of this year.

For the growth in poverty, inflation, for unemployment – which,according to the assessments of Yevgeny Gontmakher, as of the end ofthe year will comprise 10 mln persons – for the disappearance into theblack hole of a corrupt state of 200 bln dollars, for the support ofthe oligarchs out of the funds of the National Welfare Fund (which canbe spent only on pensioners), two people are responsible – Medvedev andPutin. Russians don’t know anybody else. From this, two scenarios:

1. It’s Medvedev’s fault – “he wasn’t able to keep a hold on thecountry”. This is the scenario of dictatorship, under which evencrueller laws are adopted, inflaming of spy-mania becomes the mainoccupation of the state, to doubt aloud is forbidden, monopolization ofpower, money, property becomes absolute, as does the dependence of eachindividual citizen on the state.

2. “Perestroika-2” – Medvedev sends Putin into retirement. Thearchitect of all the calamitous decisions, both political and economic,is declared to be a person with the surname of Putin. Medvedev hadnothing to do with any of it. His role – to sign an ukase on the dismissal of Putin. All that is needed is to find a typist who will print up the ukase.Knowing the human and political qualities of our elite, one can assumethat everybody will react to such a turn of events with joy and willinstantaneously swear allegiance to Medvedev. It will become clear that”Solidarity” – are far from the most die-hard of oppositioneers.

The next step for the president in this scenario – the founding of atechnical government. After this, parliamentary elections areannounced. Naturally, the repressive electoral legislation andcensorship need to be repealed.

This is the only workable scenario for getting out of the crisis. And, by the way, absolutely constitutional.

10.02.2009 16:59

Boris Nemtsov

Photo: Russian opossition politician Boris Nemtsov(C) signs autographs at the unveiling of his new book: “Putin, Results”in Moscow on February 12, 2008. The book is an analysis of the resultsof eight years of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presidency.Russian go to the polls on March 2 to elect a new president. (AFP/Getty Images)