Facing Up?

Two interesting points from a comment piece from Anders Aslund in today’s Moscow Times.  First, that the issue of ‘legal nihilism’ is at least as important as Russia’s need to stabilize its economy:

Right now, the prime example of Kremlin legal nihilism is the new trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. It looks like a conspiracy by the Vladimir Putin hard-liners against Medvedev that the trial is to begin March 31, two days before Medvedev’s first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in London. Obama cannot possibly avoid raising the Khodorkovsky case.

And second, that the government’s anti-crisis measures are starting to line up more closely with reality.  Aslund recounts some meticulous details of the new anti-crisis plan, refurbished in late November from an earlier plan based on ‘the denial of falling oil prices’:

That budget made five extraordinary assumptions, all of which have now been radically revised. It presumed that gross domestic product would grow by 6 percent in 2009 (now revised to negative 2.2 percent); that the budget surplus would be 3.7 percent of GDP (now a deficit of 7.4 percent of GDP); an average oil price of $95 per barrel (revised to $41 per barrel); an exchange rate of 24.7 rubles per dollar (now 33 rubles); and inflation at 8.5 percent (now 13 percent). It has taken some time, but once again Russia’s macroeconomic policy is based on realistic assumptions.

Read the full article here.