On October 5, Vladimir Putin published an op-ed in Izvestia, where he discussed the future of the Common Economic Space of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (CES), an integration project that will start in 2012, and also explores the possibilities of the so-called Eurasia Union.

In all its ambiguity, the column can only be viewed as an expression of Putin's ideological manifesto. Putin presents this political program as aimed at restoring the Soviet Union, the collapse of which was, in his own words, "the major geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century."

 

 

Putin’s column, entitled "New Integration Project for Eurasia - the Future That Is Being Born Today," lists the advantages of the Common Economic Space. Using the solemn rhetoric of a genuine Soviet propagandist Putin writes about the removal of various economic barriers, the unification of legislation, the simplification of migration among the three countries, and many more “mutually beneficial” changes.

But these are not the final goals. Next, Putin brings the idea to a higher level and offers a new, much larger integration project – the Eurasian Union. The Eurasian Union would be a supernational formation that could bring together former Soviet republics and become "an effective link between Europe and the dynamically developing Asia-Pacific Region." Putin emphasizes the comparison between the European Union and the idea of the Eurasian Union. He believes that the new formation is bound to be successful because all the faults of the former would be taken into consideration.

The Russian leader stretches the idea even further, revealing his own geopolitical ambitions: "The economically logical and balanced partnership of the Eurasian Union and the European Union is capable of stimulating changes in the geopolitical and geo-economical configuration of the continent and could have an undeniable positive global effect."

In the end Putin delivers the following punch line: "Only together can our countries become leaders of global growth and the progress of civilization, to achieve success and prosperity."

Any sane person, not to mention a professional economist or policy analyst, wouldn't waste a minute of their time to consider the numerous, verging on absurd, ideas raised in this article if only they were not articulated by the once again self-perpetuating  Russian leader.

Konstantin Eggert  of Moscow’s Kommersant FM radio station, writes: “It is bewildering when the prime minister writes that the new union will develop based on the values of freedom and democracy. Even if one ignores the situation in Russia itself, it is clear that life in Kazakhstan and Belarus has very little to do with democracy and freedom. This is not accidental. Despite the accurate words about collective cooperation under the conditions of a multipolar world, the article in Izvestia is in fact an anti-Western manifesto.”

Pavel Ivlev, Executive Director of The Institute of Modern Russia says: “Putin’s ambition to rule a new utopian state strays from any generally accepted economic or political theories from the civilized world. This is a shame for the Russian people as well as for Western leaders who let Putin impose his obsolete imperial ideas on to 165 million human beings.”

 

Olga Khvostunova

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