Rosstat and Levada are Russophobia’s Bane

The evil Russian Bear. But not a substitute for stats.

The evil Russian Bear. But not a substitute for stats.

Still no economic collapse. Still no anti-Putin bunt. Still no demographic apocalypse. As the years pass by, Russophobe canard after Russophobe trope is relegated to the dust-heap of history, only to rise back out of its grave, zombie-like, whenever Boris Nemtsov pens a brilliant indictment hysterical screed on the failures of Putinism or when the militsiya roughs up a few hundred (unsanctioned) protesters in a Russian city of millions. “Surely,” the Western commentariat says, “the system is rotten, the people hate their Chekist oppressors, and guys like Kasparov and Latynina will soon lead the people’s revolt back to pro-Western democracy?”

Unfortunately for their purveyors, these Manichean narratives mostly rely on anecdote, hearsay and the fluff and snake oil that is more commonly known as “political science”. When one looks at the objective evidence – things like economic and demographic statistics and Russian opinion polls – a rather disquieting picture emerges, for Russian limousine liberals and Western Commissars of Transitionology alike. This picture shows that Russians do more or less like “Putinism”, that liberals are despised when they are not ignored, and that most socio-economic indicators really are improving. True, it would be ridiculous to claim that they constitute a full vindication of the regime. Russia still has many serious problems and Russians frequently complain about the system’s corruption and social injustice. But the hard data from Levada Center (Russia’s Gallup) and Rosstat (state statistics service) does tend to invalidate around 90% of what is written about Russia in the Western press and political science*. The onus is on them to present serious evidence that these two organizations manipulate their figures to serve the Kremlin’s interests. And if they can’t, they’ll continue to rant and rave in big media while I spitefully snipe at them from my little blog and accomplish nothi… anyway, let’s not go there.

It is not my intention in this post to demonstrate the full range of ways in which the Russophobe narrative falls face down faced with the evidence from Rosstat and Levada. Though I’ll give just one or two examples, it is easy to extend them near indefinitely.

Let’s first take a look at Rosstat. Now one of the most prevalent narratives about the failure of Putinism is that Russia’s population is in “free-fall”, a “death spiral” (insert your own appropriately apocalyptic-sounding term)… The government couldn’t care less about the soaring murder rate or the plight of Russia’s children and HIV sufferers… Russian women are voting on their country’s future with their wombs and life expectancy has sunk to unimaginable lows… etc in a similar vein. There’s really no need to cite any examples here – anyone familiar with the Western commentary on Russia (or knows how to Google) can easily find many, many articles with these premises in “respectable” publications.

Yet according to the statistics, this narrative is increasingly obsolete, and sustained only by ever more brazen manipulations and misinterpretations of the data. Just to throw out some figures, from 2000 to 2009: the fertility rate rose from 1.20 children per woman to 1.56; life expectancy rose from 65 years to 69 years; infant mortality fell from 15.3/1000 to 8.1/1000. The rates of death from alcohol poisoning, murder, suicide and accidents have all fallen by around half relative to the early 2000’s. Now this is NOT to say that Russia’s demography is all nice and prim nowadays, nor that all the improvements can be chalked up to Putin’s policies. Death rates amongst middle-aged men remain stratospheric relative to the developed world. And it is not clear to what extent recent falls in mortality were due to better anti-alcohol or healthcare policies, and what share was accounted for by Russians simply beginning to drink less hard booze**. Nonetheless – and unless Rosstat is lying through its teeth – the improvements are real enough and denying them will not make them go away nor cause the “bloody Putin regime” to collapse any time soon.

Ironic that an institution once infamous for its statistical manipulations for the USSR now serves as a weapon against them... in the Western press.

Ironic that an institution once infamous for its statistical manipulations for the USSR now serves as a weapon against them… in the Western press.

The main argument remaining to the Russia pessimists is that Rosstat is simply lying. It is, after all, descended from Goskomstat (its web address,, underlines this), an institution which used to cover up the Soviet figures on infant mortality when they increased in the 1970’s and whose bogus accounting of Soviet economic growth implied that the USSR should have been several times wealthier than America by the time of its collapse. Michael McFaul, in his response to a blog post debunking many of his supposedly “factual” assertions in The Myth of the Authoritarian Modelclaims that “the real experts on this stuff (which I am not) have become very suspicious of goskomstat’s work of late”. Funnily, as if in anticipation, Rosstat makes sure to proclaim the exact opposite on its front page: “International expert examinations confirm that the data of the Federal State Statistics Service are reliable.” I guess everyone is susceptible to appeal to (unsourced) authority when their integrity is at question! 😉 So who’s right?

To be absolutely honest, there is no real way to find out (unless official stats are grossly out of sync with perceived reality as in the late USSR, but that cannot be said for today’s Russia). Let me try to explain. In general, only national statistics services have the manpower and regulatory resources to compile comprehensive demographic (economic, etc) statistics on their own countries. The stats you see from international institutions like the World Health Organization or the World Bank are mostly drawn and aggregated from national statistics services. We just have to take them at their word. The only exceptions are when the countries they operate in are so chaotic (Somalia) or closed (North Korea) that their stats cannot be relied upon, in which case multinational organizations try to come up with their own guesstimates (with the emphasis on the “guess” part). Russia is not one of these exceptions. International institutions do use Rosstat’s figures. Heck, guys like McFaul and Nemtsov use them, even though they cherry-pick them wildly to make their ideological points.

Furthermore, it is not entirely clear who will benefit from expending massive stats to subvert Rosstat. Cui bono? Certainly no private interests I can think of. While Putin or his circle may wish to “pad” some bad stats, this would be a very risky endevour. It explode in their faces (analyses from outside expert observers, revelations from whistle-blowers, etc) – and even if they can keep up the deception in the long run, the cessation of reliable information on the country will severely hurt the strategic vision of the leadership as happened in the late USSR. So given all the arguments for Kremlin non-interference, and in the in the absence of convincing evidence to the contrary***, we must assume Rosstat reliable.

Now let’s go over to Levada Center and a couple more examples. Though I know they have their limitations, I am a big fan of opinion polls. Why listen to the inane ramblings of self-important political scientists from their comfortable armchairs, when one can listed to the voice of the people directly? The Western chauvinists have one compelling reason to stick to the former, of course. What Russians say is deeply discomfiting to their worldview, in which Western values are held to be some kind of universal religion. For what Russians say goes far beyond expressing stratospheric approval ratings for Putin (at least that can be “explained” by the pro-Kremlin “propaganda” on state TV or Russians’ “traditional” preference for a strongman at the helm). But “explaining” the following is much harder for them:

1) The Internet is no more censored in Russia than in the West (which is to say very little), and the latest figures show penetration in Russia steadily creeping up to encompass more than a third of the population, which implies near universal access amongst groups like educated, urbane Muscovites. So one would presumably expect most Putinistas to be old, sour-mouthed “sovoks”, right? (As per classist, Russophobe thinking). Wrong. Support for the Kremlin – and disillusionment with the West – runs highest amongst young, university-educated Muscovite men, the very segment of the Russian population that is most exposed to the West through the the Internet and foreign travel! (Hell hath no fury like a Westerner scorned…)

Though the dinosaurs in the MVD may temporarily confiscate Nemtsov’s scribblings on how Putin is really, really bad, they could be freely accessed in cyberspace throughout the whole affair. Apparently, his works simply do not make much of an impact on their own (de)merits! All said, it is hard to see the merits of the Western chauvinist argument that Russians would reject Putinism if only they could discern the beacons of freedom beyond their borders… No. Said beacons already caused a Russian housefire in the 1990’s, and they have no desire to repeat the experiment.

2) Another cornerstone of the Russophobe narrative is that under Putin, elections have become so fraudulent that they have completely decoupled from reality. The corollary is that the regime no longer has democratic legitimacy. Now I’m certainly not one to deny that the Kremlin doesn’t make ample use of its “administrative resources” to slant election results to its liking, both formally (e.g. stricter registration requirements, unequal TV access) and informally (e.g. state employer pressure to vote for the party of power). I am also not denying that in a few regions, like Chechnya, elections really are risible and entirely meaningless. Yet is there really this huge black hole between public sentiment and the ballot count?

Well, we could actually take the unimaginably revolutionary and incomprehensibly convoluted extremely obvious and logical step of actually asking Russians whom they intend to vote for and whom they actually voted for, and compare it with the election results. In fact that is what Levada did for the 2008 Presidential elections:

Medvedev Zyuganov Zhirinovsky Bogdanov
Voting Intentions 80 11 9 <1
Voting Reminiscences 71 20 7 1
Election Results 71 18 10 1

[Medvedev is Putin’s anointed successor and of United Russia, the pro-Kremlin party of power; Zyuganov is of the Communist Party of the RF; Zhirinovsky is of the (fake) nationalist Liberal Democratic Party; Bogdanov was the token “liberal”].

Based on the above, it is fair to say that Russians got whom they wanted in the Presidency. The March 2 election results match both the February voter intentions and voter reminiscences some two weeks later. While one can certainly question the amount of real choice Russians got to exercise in what was a managed succession, it was hardly foisted on them by the jackboot.

3) Last but not least, most Russians themselves think they live in a free country and a democracy. Political scientists may disparage them for it, claiming that Russians don’t understand what democracy is all about. This misses the point. Democracy is more than just free, fair elections and some civil rights. Above all, it needs popular support for its long-term survival. Without that, the political scientists can (and do) go to hell.

Quite an indictment of most Russia commentary in the press today, wouldn’t you say? The Russophobes have two responses to this. First, as with Rosstat, they claim that “Levada’s institute is no longer fully reliable”**** (remember that getting results that can be construed as being pro-Kremlin disqualifies you from being “reliable” almost by definition). This is really laughable. I mean the director of Levada Center, Lev Gudkov, writes things like this:

… Putinism – is a system of decentralized use of the institutional instruments of coercion, preserved in the power ministries as relics of the totalitarian regime, and hijacked by the powers that be for the fulfillment of their private, clan-group interests. The regime is unstable, with questionable chances of long-term survival or peaceful transferal of power.

Yes, Gudkov sure sounds like a raging Russophile maniac skeptical sociologist with no particular love for the Kremlin!*****

The second critique is downright loony, and is never made by even halfway serious Russia watchers. They say that Russians are too afraid to answer opinion pollsters truthfully or reveal their real feelings towards Putin. There’s really no way to argue with such people. To them, if Russians say things are bad in Russia then they are bad, and if they say things are good in Russia then they are either paid shills or trembling slaves of the Kremlin. It’s a closed loop, unfalsifiable, fallacy.

There are three main conclusions to be made. First, the “moderates” in the Russia debate (Stephen Cohen, Ben Aris, “The Mutual Admiration Society“, etc) can rest assured that they’re on the right track. Second, the (extreme) Russophiles and Sovietophiles shouldn’t rejoice. The polls indicate continued low trust in most institutions, unsatisfactory access to healthcare and education and a very corrupt bureaucracy. Likewise, despite recent improvements, Russia’s demographic situation remains very unsatisfactory: middle-aged Russian men still have the life expectancy of their late Tsarist forefathers! Third, the (extreme) Russophobes would be wise to reconsider most of their positions in a fundamental way, because as it stands they are wrong on almost everything. Unless they are really, really good at digging up dirt on national statistics agencies and opinion pollsters, in which case they should get to work on “exposing” Rosstat and Levada!

* For a standard statement of the “Russophobe” position by which the Western mainstream media perceives Russia, see McFaul and Stoner-Weiss on The Myth of the Authoritarian Model. Their mendacity and cherry-picking is exposed by Fedia Kriukov here.

** Russia’s life expectancy is tightly coupled with per capita alcohol consumption. For more info see here.

*** The one serious criticism of Rosstat’s reliability that I’ve encountered in my Russia-watching career was made by Russian economist Gregory Khanin in “Economic growth and the mobilization model” in Ellman’s Russia’s Oil and Natural Gas: Bonanza or Curse? He argues that Rosstat’s methodology caused GDP growth to be overstated by 3% points from 1999-2003, most egregiously during the first two years. His alternate figures do not appear very rigorous. They are derived from analyzing concurrent growth rates of physical proxies like freight transport and fuel consumption, constructing three (widely differing) alternate GDP series based on said proxies, and averaging them to arrive at one alternate GDP series. There is little in the way of explanation why this is the logical and correct course to follow.

Incidentally, Khanin’s own methodology appears to be very similar to several (mostly) American attempts over the years to “prove” that China is *not* growing at 10% per annum by pointing to (occasional) dips in its electricity consumption… I would also like to add that not even the US is immune from suspicions that it is fiddling its numbers:

… Since the time of Reagan the definition of inflation used by the government was being continuously reworked to make the figures appear better than they otherwise would have been, using substitutions and hedonics to spruce up the figures (i.e. adjusting for consumers switching to other products when similar products become expensive, and trying to put values on quality improvements). If the BEA… continued using its old standards, then a) the economy would have been in stagnation during the 1990′s and recession in the 2000′s, b) inflation would have been steadily increasing to a peak of nearly 14% in 2007 and c) median incomes would have been in steep decline.

So there you go. I haven’t studied the issue in detail, and I don’t know whether it is the establishment statistics services or their contrarian critics who are on the ball. As usual, I suspect the truth is somewhere in between.

**** The political scientist who made this claim also recommended The Forensics of Election Fraud by Ordeshook, Myagkov, and Shakin. Anyone know if it has anything convincing or of interest?

***** Actually the Levada-Center is an independent offshoot of VTSIOM, which was brought under Kremlin influence around 2003. This caused most of VTSIOM’s sociologists to migrate with Yuri Levada and Lev Gudkov to the new outfit. There may be grounds to consider VTSIOM’s results suspect, but again there is no hard evidence to support this. For instance, its conclusions that most post-Soviet countries actually quite like Russia are the same as those produced by Gallup. And I certainly hope no-one will now try claiming that Gallup is controlled by the Kremlin! 😉


  1. Therefore, we can see that Russians got who they wanted in the Presidency… most Russians themselves think they live in a free country and democracy.

    You are again just repeating what La Russophobe has been saying all along: the clueless Russian people have got exactly the government they want and deserve. With Da-Russophiles like this, who needs Russophobes?

    • perhaps “clueless Russian people” have better intuition as to what’s good for them, pity it’s so unsatisfying to La Russophobe

    • Yeah, us poor clueless Russian people really need our eyes to be opened by the enlightened West.

      Call me crazy, but I do believe you could be La Russophobe.

      • I am sure peter isn’t LR. He is actually sane and quite intelligent, but spends too much time trolling (e.g. right now) and stalking Averko (which is really very very sad).

        Update: peter, I really have no intention of letting you use this comments thread as a platform to troll and smear me. Use email or get your own blog.

        • реtеr says:

          By the way, to add to my initial comment and address the knee-jerk replies it provoked, let me post a fresh quote from one prominent Russophobe Gleb Pavlovsky:

          Режим Путина (плебисцитарный, если угодно) был выстроен броском революции «через плечо». Это не мы – это революция, разнуздав стихию выборов, не дала ей осесть в законные берега. Помню, выбирали даже заводских директоров. Выигравший демократические выборы в трудовом коллективе переводил свой завод (вариант – регион) в личную собственность, а соперников заказывал киллерам для отстрела. Команда-99 приняла народную игру в тотальные выборы, но обратила выборы в референдум, в вечный плебисцит – «за» или «против» Владимира Путина, за власть нового образца. Безальтернативная власть 2000–2008 годов – власть, которая без чрезмерного применения силы приводит к состоянию, где ей нельзя легко бросить вызов. Цена вызова слишком дорога. Команда 99-го года превратила рейтинг путинского большинства в свидетельство общей воли, в фактор легитимности власти. И в стране настал мир, грязный и компромиссный, как любой мир на свете.

          • peter, your comparison is meretricious, but fundamentally flawed – and I think you know that.

            Pavlovsky’s article is an ideological icebreaker for what Russia is supposed to become under the vision of the “civiliki” clan to which he belongs (“Медведев отходит от плебисцитарного режима потому, что дело сделано эффективно… Быт тандема – компромисс, то есть антиплебисцитарная политика. Если плебисцитарный режим кто-то и захочет восстановить, его придется вводить заново – а это совсем не легко. Проще договориться о стандартах работающей демократии”). Gudkov’s article is a blanket indictment of the system not only on its current flaws, but fundamentally, on its incapacity to change for the better.

            • Sorry, I should’ve explained better. Pavlovsky’s quote merely illustrates that, unlike you and LR, nobody in Moscow takes Putin’s popularity at face value. Everyone seems to agree by now that Putin’s regime has been, at best, a temporary evil designed to keep быдло в стойле “inner Asia” at bay. Granted, opinions vary on whether or not Russia is capable “to change for the better”, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

              As a bonus, here’s another fresh quote, this time form Maxim “Паркер” Kononenko:

              Конечно, мы теряем Россию, воспетую Гоголем. Потому что с такой Россией дальше нельзя. Дикие народы на этой планете теперь выживают только под эгидой ООН, да и то не всегда. А народ, который бросает камни в поезда и не увозит с собой мусор после пикника— дикий. С таким народом надо не модернизацию делать, а учиться смывать за собой в туалете. Вот как научится этот народ смывать за собой— тогда уже можно будет и модернизацию. А пока— извините. Рылом не вышли. И поезд «Сапсан» тому— подтверждение.

              Вот несется этот адаптированный к русским морозам поезд через мглу деревень. Через покосившиеся столетние срубы, через пьянь и бытовые убийства, через отсутствие горячей воды и электричество по часам, через разбросанные по полям кости случайных солдат великой войны и через великую сырую дыру. Через пустоту, в которой нет ничего— ни времени, ни пространства, ни даже виртуального существования.

              — Куда несешься ты?— как бы спрашивают проносящийся поезд «Сапсан» населяющие эту пустоту пустотные люди.— Кто тебя выдумал?

              Не дает ответа.

  2. Good shot!
    And here’s some more evidence about “the coming economic collapse of Putinism”.
    The IMF in its April 2010 estimates (and they put Russia’s number up in June (
    predicted a higher growth rate over 5 years for Russia (
    than for anyone else in the G8. (

    But that’s just the IMF; whadda they know?

    • I don’t think there’s much point comparing it to the G8, even the poorest of whom, Italy, has a GDP per capita more than twice Russia’s. Growth rates of 4% are rather unimpressive for Russia. They’re comfortable and respectable, but at that rate convergence will proceed at a snail’s rate. I think 6% should be a realistic aim for the next decade.

      Still, one thing I’m pretty sure about is that people like Stefan Hedlund who claim that the Russian economy will actually stagnate like Brezhnev’s USSR are completely wrong.

  3. IMHO – a well-written & structured piece. The question about democracy is an interesting one – if the majority prefers authoritarian regime, is it a democratic solution to let them have it? (just a thought). I also would not interpret the poll-derived’ popularity of Putin (or, especially, of the associated with him system) literally – it is more likely a comparative response – as in “of what we have available so far” or even “compare to what we had previously (=EBN)” or “compare to what could have been”. And, as a personal opinion, the popularity of nationalistic movements in Russia should not be underestimated – these groups, unlike the Communists, are evolving rapidly.

    • It’s true that Putin’s popularity isn’t an affirmation of his perfection, but isn’t that the case with all opinion polls? Most people are fairly realistic in these things. I might not like Obama’s profligacy or cosyness with bankers, but overall I approve of his Presidency. Likewise with Putin: while there are many things on which he can be criticized, I still think his rule has been a blessing to Russia.

      By the way, an “opinion graph” that takes an explicitly comparative tack.

      Interesting to see that “sovereign democracy” is now genuinely the most popular out of the “Soviet” and “Western” alternatives.

  4. Alex("zex" one) says:

    Interesting chart, thanks.

    • Alex("zed" one) says:

      Just saw this your piece in DJ #127, item #16.
      The item #15 there is a reprint from Moscow News, July 2, 2010
      “Back in the USSR” – you might be interested in the poll results there. Cheers

  5. “Russian women are voting on their country’s future with their wombs and life expectancy has sunk to unimaginable lows… etc in a similar vain. ” Shouldn’t this have read in a a similar vein? Or is it vanity? 🙂

    And those latest U.S. fun-employment and growth numbers all read like Gosplan stuff.

    • Thanks, fixed. I think they’re genuine enough, only problem is that they are only sustained by unsustainable fiscal infusions.

  6. Stalking Averko? Really? As in driving to Averko’s lair in New Jersey?

  7. Alexander G says:

    I’m just a working class American who don’t know too much, but I can’t help to admire Putin. During the 90’s Russia was run by very high caliber scum, which resulted in very bad times for the average Russian. Somehow, out of nowhere Putin steps in and sticks these high caliber scum into a cage, and the standard of living for the average working Russian has greatly improved. Putin appears to me to genuinely care about his people.

    What is the best thing to read (in English) to understand how Putin wrestled (or sambo’d) his country back from the high caliber scum?

    • A book I think you would enjoy (if you haven’t read it already) is Paul Klebnikov’s Godfather of the Kremlin. Klebnikov (who is unfortunately dead, as he was an exceptional journalist and admirable man) wrote a scathing indictment of the scum (as you have aptly called them) who were ruling Russia.

      I’ll be sure to tell you if I think of anything else (feel free to email me if you want; my email is on my blog), but the truth is that there is precious little in English that actually is fair and honest about Putin. Most of what’s out there is just drivel about how Putin is an evil ex-KGB agent who’s bent on making Russia into the neo-USSR and dominating the world.

    • I second Natalie, Paul Klebnikov’s book is a great choice. If you don’t want to read the book, there’s this article of the same name.
      If you want unadulterated cynicism, read Wilson’s Virtual Politics. If you want something more academic and centrist, Herspring’s and Wegner’s After Putin’s Russia (ignore the atrocious choice of title!).
      You’ll find quite a few (pro-Kremlin) articles on the oligarchs in this section of the site.

  8. No matter the stats and whatever official numbers depicting people’s opinions, Western media are still going to be talking smack about Russia. It’s what they do and it’ll never change. And nobody wants to go back to the Soviet system. My parents had enough of that already. There were of course some positive moments, but the system will never be an option for Russia anymore, especially if we talk about the young people.

    • Alex("zed" one) says:

      Perhaps, it is better to say “not everyone wants to go back to the Soviet system”.

      “Hyde Park, a facebook-style networking site boasting an assortment of celebs among its members, found 68 per cent of its visitors wanted to live in the USSR they remembered or saw in films and literature. A mere two per cent were happy living in the present, though 30 per cent said they didn’t fancy going back to the days of the pioneers.”

  9. Karl Haushofer says:

    The West is doing its part to weaken and eventually disintegrate Russia. Flooding Russia with heroin is one way to do it.

    Russian drug boss Viktor Ivanov: “We have identified several people who live in the U.S. and organize the trafficking of drugs from Afghanistan to Russia.”

    I think Anatoly is not taking this problem seriously enough in his blog. Heroin threat is the biggest threat Russia is facing right now and Russia loses 50,000 young people each year because of Afghan drugs.

    The flood of heroin to Russia will not end unless Russia does something about it. I don’t have much faith in this Russian government though. Russia needs more hardliners and patriots.

    AK responds: I don’t take this “problem” seriously because it is a risible conspiracy theory.

  10. solar sun says:

    Its funny how the west has a critical view of Russia and all the things said about it yet being “authoritarian”, dissatisfaction with the government, corruption, etc have happened in the US in resent years with the bogus terror threat and the “war on terror” passing Patriot act laws an massive increase of domestic spying although there has not been proven a credible terrorist conspiracy in the US. The last two attempted “terrorist attacks” being an absolute joke.

    All the corporate scandals from Maddoff to Exxon and the latest BP disaster.

    The “free” mass media in the US controlled by 5 companies and literally all of it under Jewish media ownership as well as the major banks, as well as research institutions and universities and academia.

    In Europe it is much the same with one family who is the dominant force especially here in Britain controlling about a third of the media under the Guardian media group which in the case of the BBC whitewash series Russian Godfathers was produced by a Rothschild owned production company hence why they negated to mention Jacob Rothschild transfer of funds to Khoderkovsky for the establishment of the rigged auction and Yukos oil company and the transfer of billions of dollars through the Menatep bank in the Isle of Man and the portrayal of the Khoderkovsky as the democracy loving political prison who was about to outsource and sign over Russian oil rights to Exxon a BP Rothschild linked oil company essentially outsourcing the Russian economy.

    And they don’t have to contend with foreign intervention in domestic and neighbouring states were all the opposition, NGO’s, human rights groups, etc are financed by western intelligence fronts as well as sponsorship of terrorism and organised crime.

  11. Gordon Hahn has just written a piece in “Russia Other Points of View” that a split is developing in the russian elite:

    There might be something to his ideas:

    (i) The narrative that emerges from he Medvedev side sounds to me more and more of the
    Yeltsenite type: “Give the national cos to the oligarrchs”. There is a well known group around Yeltsin’s daughter (Tatiana Dyadchenko) which has been formed inside the ruling party for the purpose of pushing their agenda.

    (2)Surkov, the well known advisor to the Kremlin. has given an interview to RT about modernization which can be only be charaacterized as total BS. This man has no idea of the workings of science and technology

    (3) Gorbachov’s newspaper Nevaz .. Gazetta has written a piece two days ago to the effect
    that China is “using Russia as a colony because it only buys resources.. .. and does not invest
    in industrial projects”. The truth of the matter is that China invests in their own industry and
    and not in that of others. This does not constitute colonial behaviour. On the other hand China
    has done irritating things like trying to undercut russian arms trade.

    (4) Marshall Schullman wrote a piece in Valdai Club section of Novosti as to why the oligarchs cannot modernizde russia. Very thoughtfulland mostrly accurate. The current policies of the russian elite seems more and more to be in tune with the welfare of these characters.

    Hahn’s analysis is definetely wsrong as to agents of political change. “Rented Crowds” or pot bangers do not have staying power. The miners inh the Kemerovo accident do.
    So things can get messy.

    So, let us have a deiscussion on Russian politics.

  12. Thank you, Anatoly, we’ve published it here

  13. Hello. My name is Andrei, I am romanian and I want to congratulate you for this blog. It’s nice to see also something other then people bashing Russia. I’m sick and tired to hear from everybody how awfull Russia is. I’ve been there, I liked it. I like the people, the culture, the language, I support the russian policies. Although I live in Germany right now I would love to find a way to live and work in Russia. So, once again, good job!