Arkady Volsky, the head of the ZIL casting workshop, was speaking at a young manufacturers meeting that Nikita Khrushschev, at the time the first secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee, was attending. Volsky went into detail about the technical aspects that had let them improve on something in their work. Then, out of the blue, Khrushchev came to life and yelled, “What are you talking about scraps of iron for? Think ‘bout people, people!”
Fast forward to today and what you get is our, you could say, first secretary, constantly thinking “‘bout people.” On top of that, his logic is to buy the people off: give everyone just enough so that the only thing that worries them is that things don’t get worse. This is exactly what Putin is bringing to the table in the platform he unveiled on 12 January. To put it bluntly, it’s a just a big bag of handouts, a platform for fallow growth put together with general words about everything that is fine and dandy. Putin’s twelve years in power were spent just to figure out what direction he in fact wants to head.
This is the election campaign platform of our Tsar, our father, the man who allocates everything to everyone himself. This is the manual operation platform. As Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov admitted, there’s a reason why the prime minister put the platform together in writing. Staying in line with this logic, he is going to take care of civil servants and retirees, his backbone of support, with his own two hands.
Peskov, in yet another of his numerous comments that virtually serve as Putin’s non-existent Twitter account, said that his boss’s platform is, “A new outlook that stays on track with a changing world.” There is, however, nothing new in this “hand-written platform” compared to those of other parties and movements that have been presented over the past 15 years. This includes the phrase about a country that is “comfortable to live and work in, to raise one’s children and grandchildren” (see the 2003 party platform from the Union of Right Forces) or how it dawned on him that private investors should become part of the country’s utilities system, something that economists have been going on about since the end of the 1990s.
Touching on the 1990s for a second, Putin, the former lieutenant mayor and head of St. Petersburg’s mayoral administration’s foreign affairs, is just obsessed with them in the sense that he hates them. In his “hand-written platform” he constantly writes such things as, “We overcame the grave crisis of the ‘wild nineties,’” and “The debilitated economy of the 1990s.”
One of the chapters in Putin’s platform is entitled “Our Values.” Word is that during a meeting last year on cinematography, Minister of Culture Aleksandr Avdeyev put a copy of film expert Danil Dondurei’s interview with Novaya Gazeta on Putin’s table. The interview addressed the crisis of moral values, and insiders claim that Putin spent the meeting frenetically underlining parts of the interview text rather than listening to the people speaking. The “national leader’s” conclusions, however, were somewhat strange: “We are going to proactively defend the foundations of our morality in the media and Internet… We will not let trashy material from popular culture maim the moral and psychological health of our children… We will support creating and promoting quality Russian programming.” In other words, Russian means moral, and the media and Internet are going to be clamped down on? “Human development is vitally important,” Putin writes. Then why is defence and security spending going through the roof, while education, healthcare and culture spending keeps declining? Or does the prime minister have nothing to do with the federal budget?
“Each and everyone should have the freedom of choice, while that very freedom must be based on fairness. Only then will the public acknowledge this.” In other words, if freedom violates fairness, with the more driven, proactive people making more money, then will the public not acknowledge this kind of freedom? If so, then how does this fit in with Putin’s promise, “We will foster and provide safeguards for business freedoms, first and foremost by protecting business from anyone infringing on private property”?
Putin’s platform is mindboggling in its lacking any speck of reality while offering declaration after declaration, and that goes for more than just “protecting business from infringements on private property.” Take this statement, “We need to stimulate demand for innovation from both private and public companies. This will provide work for our high-technology businesses, engineers and scientists.” Great, but the problem for innovation in Russia is that there isn’t any demand for it. What’s more, our pen-pushing Prime Minister doesn’t even address HOW to stimulate demand.
“The country’s law-enforcement system should be meant to protect and support law-abiding businesses, not fight them,” writes Putin, the man responsible for a system where business is built either through a system of raids and graft or through rubbing shoulders with the state and being within reach of its assets. The trial against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and YUKOS, the calling card of Putin’s time in power, alone have let the law-enforcement agencies and courts run amuck, giving people the impression that the justice system, from investigative teams to the courts, can be bought.
Then comes the self-criticism: “The country’s economic model over the past decade, one based on high oil prices and under-utilised capacity left over from the Soviet Union, has virtually run its course. Putin so fervently and enthusiastically tears down this economic model as if he had nothing to do with establishing it these past 12 years by transferring economic assets to state companies and turning the country’s economic into one managed by just a handful of people. The only thing that was of chief significance to this economic model’s success was oil prices and nothing more.
Our satirist, of course, fearlessly heeds the call in the struggle for humanism and peace: “‘The rules of the game’ in international politics and the global economy cannot be determined behind Russia’s back or by avoiding it and our interests. International cooperation is a two-way street… Our partners’ unilateral moves that don’t take Russia’s view and its interests into account will be assessed as they should be, and we will parry such moves as needed.”
It’s all déjà vu: pointing out where the country has been successful, wishes for an even better life, and threats to the enemy. As for all that freedom and honesty stuff that people have been talking about during the recent protests, that will have to wait. What’s most important is that at least one person in Russia is free, Vladimir Putin. But even that is not always the case. Putin admits on his election campaign website that he gets the “sweet feeling of freedom” when he rides… a motorcycle.
So let’s all ditch the square protests and go for a motorcycle ride. That’s where the freedom is!