Russia Profile is running one of those panel things they do with various experts on the first decade of Russia under Vladimir Putin. The praise, as may be expected, is effusive and largely uncritical. Sometimes its even convincing (funny the kinds of universities where the pro-Putin academics tend to work…). Ethan Burger takes up the role of the dissenting voice again on this one, with this commentary:
I urge the readers of this panel to read the recently published United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Report for the Russian Federation. The report was prepared largely by Russian experts. Appropriately, its title is “Russia Facing Demographic Challenges.” The report attempts to analyze the main aspects of the most urgent demographic challenges, to offer analysis of causes and to highlight certain constructive axes of socioeconomic policy, which can serve to reduce mortality rates, improve the present birth rate, regulate migration flows and, at the same time, to alleviate adverse consequences
The report has a cautious tone. Interested persons should read thenumerous articles written about what the data means for the future ofRussia. Some (but not me) tend to dismiss the views of Westernspecialists such as Paul Goble, Murray Feshbach and Marshall Goldman(to name a few) as to the implications of the report. Fortunately, thereport is available in Russian and a few searches on Rambler and Yandexfor the opinions of leading Russian authorities cannot be as easilyignored.
It appears that the Russian political leadership and top levels ofthe government are not willing to enter into a public dialog withRussian and international experts in these areas, and to respond asneeded. Nor will viable political opposition be tolerated, as if theexpression of alternative views is a sign of weakness.