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PASKO: I can’t take any more of the powers’ optimism

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I was listening to our president and recalled Jerzy Lec:

“I am so full of optimism that I can’t take any more of it.”

What didn’t Dmitry Medvedev promise us! “Intolerance toward corruption…improvement of housing conditions…nurturing of the personality already in school…normalisation of the situation in monocities…” And also about agriculture, modernisation of the economy, flights to other planets; reducing taxes; raising the quality of school education…

Of the new – a possible abolition of the switches from summer to winter and a reduction in the quantity of time zones. And – applause, applause, applause…in the spirit of the times of Brezhnev.

It goes without saying that everybody will find something of his own in this speech, pleasant for his subconscious. And, having awoken from this reverie, returned to consciousness, he will no doubt think about how there most likely will not be any results. Even in the fact of moving the hands of the clock this way and that. Optimists, of course, will still daydream for some time about interplanetary flights, but realists will certainly go and dig out their Ilf & Petrov and re-read that part where Ostap went off on a flight of fancy – about the future of New Vasyuki.

When the president in his address, speaking about energy conservation, said the phrase “This task can be resolved only in the event if each of us gives thought to how responsibly he approaches energy conservation”, I thought: and did he discuss this phrase on the eve with Nikita Mikhalkov? The phrases sure are similar: Medvedev’s – in the address, and Mikhalkov’s – in his recent article in Izvestiya.

Then, when the president said what exactly we ought to be doing in the struggle for the improvement of indicators in energy conservation, I understood: no, he had not discussed this with anybody in advance. Because THIS – is something everybody’s been talking about not for one year; THIS – is something every schoolchild already knows by heart. And everybody knows that THIS is not going to be done for a long time still. Not before the next address, that’s for sure.

The president promises that programs for the production and installation of metering devices are going to be launched; that today the inhabitants of our cities are in fact paying for a dilapidated and hence expensive utilities infrastructure; that citizens must pay only for services they actually use.

I’ve been hearing all this for 10 years already – about meters, dilapidated infrastructure, overpayment for services (by the way, don’t forget that from the new year these services are going to cost one and a half to two times more than before)…and yet here we are in the same place again.

The president reported to us about how “we have begun the transition to the use of energy-conserving lamps”. Yes, here and there the transition has begun. And here and there they’ve even had the time to notice that they can’t exactly afford those energy-conserving lamps. Same as replacing old equipment for new.

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The president promised that “next year”, utilities networks will be modernised, systems for paying for services that in a greater measure take into account the regime of their consumption and the level of the incomes of a family.

In principle, nobody was pulling him by the tongue, forcing him to speak about the modernization of utilities networks specifically “next year”. He could have said: ” in the near future”, “going forward”, “in the medium-term future”…but now, when the traditional disruptions with heat, water and light begin in the winter in everybody’s beloved Vladivostok, suddenly someone is going to remember his presidential “next year”.

Medvedev also said very “new” phrases about the necessity of implementing innovations in alternative energy; about a flagrant example of inefficient use of energy resources – the flaring of associated gas. (This problem, probably, is as old as the person who suggested that the president mention this problem).

About what ecological problems did I not hear from the president? Short answer: many. About the garbage problem (100 bln tonnes annually!); about harmful emissions; about the climate; about preserving nature reserves; about the return of the ministry of ecology… Especially about whether or not ecological organizations will henceforth be considered socially-oriented?

One can not but pay attention to such a paragraph: “Yet another change in legislation, about which we are speaking not one year, will touch upon questions of the formation and replenishment of the targeted capital of non-commercial organisations. It will become possible also on account of the donation of securities and real property (talk has been going on for several years already about this), and the protection of the surrounding environment will also be included into the activity list, the financing of which will come from the funds of the targeted capital.”

According to the testimony of ecologists, this point has been crossed out by Dmitry Medvedev in his own hand from all redactions of the mentioned law.

But even this is not the point. The address, at the end of the day, wasn’t about ecology after all, but…but about what? About everything at once? And to whom? If the address was to legislators, then why was there so little mention about the draft laws gathering dust in the bowels of the State Duma?

The point, apparently, is not in the format of the address itself. He said (or DIDN’T say, as the case may be) something about something, and that’s it. So what next?

Next, I think, all the chairmen of the committees of the State Duma and the Federation Council, all the ministers and heads of agencies need to appear publicly (after all, there’s got to be some reason why we have television, or at the very least on the websites of their agencies). They must expound-expand-decode all that has been said by the president that concretely concerns their committees and agencies, and clearly name the ways of resolving this or the other problem and the terms of executing the decisions. Then the optimism of the president is going to be underpinned by the realism of the executors.

And without this, the president is like a bird that has crowed – sunrise or no.

[Cartoon translation: “Roads will become better! Fools will become gayer!” – ed.]