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Эберхард Шнайдер

Review of Russian Domestic Politics: October

09 Ноя 2009 — Эберхард Шнайдер, Профессор, член Совещательного совета Центра ЕС-Россия
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President Medvedev’s State of the Nation Report
According to Kremlin sources, President Medvedev will deliver his state of the nation report on 12 November to the Federal Assembly. Then the second reading of the draft budget legislation will follow one week later. And on 21 November Vladimir Putin will speak before United Russia. Given that the priority in the state of the nation report will be the modernisation of the economy, one can expect changes in the composition of the budget. Medvedev has also let it be known that he intends to take up some of the themes he outlined in his Forward Russia article, which attracted some 13,000 comments on line.

The Institute for Contemporary Development has also published a study outlining the priorities to be addressed in order to help modernise Russia. The authors doubt whether there can be a successful modernisation programme as long as the Putin elite remains in power. They believe that it does not make sense to demolish the system that Putin established but rather to set up a parallel power structure. The two structures could exist side by side for some time before the new pushes the old to one side.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky has also entered the debate with an article in Vedomosti speculating on who could lead the President’s modernisation programme. It could not be the bureaucracy and its allies in business nor the siloviki.

Modernisation could not be pushed by any one leader, regardless of the strength of his position. One had to develop a coalition for modernisation from about three per cent of the working population (around two million people). This coalition could develop new professionals, especially in SMEs, from those scientists and engineers who studied in the Soviet Union in the ‘60s/‘70s and who have not given up hope of changing Russia. This coalition should also include those who left Russia in the post-Soviet period and who might be persuaded to return and make use of their talents; plus young scientists and engineers who have just completed their studies and who face a difficult decision whether to stay or leave Russia. The coalition could also draw in those members of the intelligentsia (journalists and teachers) who have not given up on a democratic future. To ensure the success of this modernisation process, there would need to be fundamental political reforms and a flourishing civil society.

Regional elections – allegations of fraud
There were regional and local elections on 11 October involving some 30 million citizens. Parties had to clear a 7% hurdle in order to gain representation. The election campaign of United Russia was aimed at securing a good result that could be viewed as support for the government in difficult times. The fact that the party was able to increase its vote by up to 33% in all three regional elections gave rise to allegations of electoral fraud. All 135 opposition MPs walked out of the Duma on 14 October in protest, with many demanding the resignation of the chair of the electoral commission.

Meanwhile the Moscow rumour mill continues to report friction between Medvedev and Putin, with some suggesting that the President will make a determined effort to bring more of his people into the administration in coming weeks.

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