20 years under Putin: a timeline

In his recent online interview to Kommersant newspaper Igor Yurgens, head of INSOR, speaks about modernization of the political regime in Russia. If it doesn’t happen, there will be catastrophe, he says.



Mr. Yurgens is President of the Institute of Contemporary Development in Russia (INSOR). He is a prominent economist and an informal advisor of President Dmitri Medvedev. Reports that had been written by INSOR provoked a wide discussion among Russian intellectuals. They are also reviewed and criticized in IMR’s blog by Alexander Yanov. Below are some excerpts of Mr. Yurgens’ interview to Kommersant.

• on INSOR’s role in Russian politics:

“We are glad that people always lively discuss our reports. We are impressed by both – the support and sharp critique, because it means that we stimulate some thinking. In three and a half years we have become a distinct institution. From abroad and from the inside of Russia people approach us, knowing who we are. One of the institutes of civil society has thus been created, an expert center – at least. It would be too ambitious of me to speculate on the way it influences the country’s politics. I know that some parts of our reports are being accepted and implemented, others – rejected in the strongest terms.”

on President Medvedev:

“President Medvedev’s major achievement is that, during one of the deepest recessions, he provided a calm external environment to resolve internal economy problems. If he hadn’t done so, two simultaneous struggles (one – with the internal crisis, the other – with the hostile environment outside of Russia) could have broken our backbone. Fortunately, we managed to avoid that. All the resets done by the president, helped to provide a peaceful internal movement onward. Obama, Cameron, Berlusconi and other members of G8 are all envious of the way we came out of a recession."

• on political modernization:

“Russian political system is, no doubt, in the dead end. Without its gradual evolutionary development, neither intelligentsia, nor the people whose views are different from the ruling party’s – and there are plenty of those – will not see themselves in reformation. If they don’t see themselves there, there will be no reformation at all. Instead, there will be a deep crisis, and the way out of it is not quite obvious yet. INSOR was criticized for its report “Attaining the Future”, but afterwards experts from Russian Academy of Sciences, research institutes, government all gathered together and wrote the “2020” program. Their conclusions are the same as ours. There are no ways out other than economy liberalization and the respective adaptation of the political system. Otherwise, there will be catastrophe.”

• on the possibility of social revolts in the upcoming years:

“They are not going to happen by virtue of the economy block of the government, I can’t help mentioning Alexei Kudrin’s role here. Safety cushion is large enough, and on the horizon of 2013 there will be no Tahrir Square. To avoid Egypt scenario, a very complicated and clear program is required, the one that can cut down expenses, increase income, open the political machine and to reform the whole mechanism of the government life, including its spirit. We can’t do without it.”