Russia: The Challenges of Transformation

Russia: The Challenges of Transformation

Russia: The Challenges of Transformation

Russia: The Challenges of Transformation

Excerpt

This book seeks to “re-think Russia.” Over the past years, there has been a tendency, in the global academic community but even more widely in the world media, to focus on Russia’s failure to transit from communism to democracy. The verdict reads, sternly, “lost in transition.” A countertendency, actively propagated within Russia, has extolled the virtues of the country’s stabilization after the tempest and tumult of the 1980s and 1990s. The motto of this group proudly states, “Russia has risen from its knees.” From that perspective, it is the outside world’s responsibility to be more objective toward Russia.

Both arguments were superseded by the world economic crisis, which did not spare Russia as a safe haven, as some of its leaders had hoped. In fact, Russia turned out to be among the world’s worst-hit economies. The recovery has been slow. The crisis, however, also has laid bare the flaws in the economic, social, and political systems of North America, Europe, and Japan, which had been touted as models for the rest of the world, including Russia. Thus, the debate along the familiar lines of the mimicry of the “Western model” is now definitely over, and a new round of thinking is about to begin.

In Russia, the buzzword is “modernization.” President Medvedev’s “Go, Russia!” article, first posted in September 2009, set the tone for a wide-ranging debate. There is a broad realization that unless the country curbs its runaway corruption, diversifies its economy, thus diminishing its dependence on energy exports, and builds a knowledge industry, Russia’s future might be . . .

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