Listening to Shuvalov


Once in a while, perhaps too rarely, it is necessary to compliment a member of the Russian administration. Whenever a Russian politician addresses hard economic or political truths head-on, this needs to be recognized and in this case applauded.

Government officials who can think past resource dependency are implicitly accepting that their responsibilities are to the state and its citizens. Those who simply favor resource extraction industries at all costs generally do so out of beliefs that are more tied to the instrumentalization of the state than to their duty to the state.

Igor Shuvalov, with his recent pithy comments on Russia’s urgent need to diversify its economy, deserves our admiration. There is an important logic and reality that flows from Shuvalov’s comments, and the recent decisions reached concerning the budget. These represent a positive step. For those who are as focused as I am on looking at the relationship between various groups in power in Russia, the resolution of the budget dispute is of tremendous interest.

For Russia to pursue its economic revival, the non-extractive agendaneeds to be furthered. A vibrant, diversified national economy is afundamental prerequisite for sustained growth and prosperity.

Further, if we see a true opening of Russia’s borders to competitionand a welcoming of inbound investment, growth possibilities will becomeendless. However, the foundation of this is investor belief thatprivate property will be protected. This is one guarantee that untilnow has proven elusive.