EU's Infowar On Russia - Putting In Place A Totalitarian Media Regime And Speech Control

Author: Jon Hellevig December 16, 2016

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INTRODUCTION

After a decade and a half of intensive anti-Russian propaganda, the Western mainstream media and their masters are experiencing a virtual meltdown of their propaganda narrative. During the last half a year, they doubled down on their propaganda with a campaign of declaring all critical alternative media and dissidents as ‘fake news” sources. This campaign has now culminated with the first round of repressive media and speech control laws both in the European Union (EU Parliament, 14 October 2016, on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties; referenced below) and in the United States (US House of Representatives bill of November 30 announcing a crackdown on media, blogs and individuals who are involved in “spreading Russian propaganda and misinformation”).

However, while Russia has been identified both in the EU and the US as the supposed adversary against whom these states are supposedly protecting, the real target of their crackdown is internal dissent. Their scandalous calls to an infowar against Russia is actually a red herring intended to conceal the much more sinister aim of establishing a totalitarian media regime and speech control with all-out propaganda and censorship internally in the EU states.

Obviously the EU and USA have very little to fear from Russia's quite limited media resources. Russia has no propaganda reach over the West and based on my observations has not even been engaged in any such attempts. Russia has, however, increased its legitimate reporting in English with an aim at Western and other global audiences. These are quite insignificant operations and reach only a very limited audience. Hereby, there is no need for Russia even to try to do anything called propaganda – in the sense of trying to push false narratives by subterfuge. The Western propaganda machine is the one that takes care of producing the propaganda content, and Russian and other alternative media sources need not do anything else than sit there and refute the Western propaganda narratives 24 hours a day, as well as report the real news.

For sure, this is annoying enough for the West, but their real concern is yet much more baleful. They have a need to enact a totalitarian media regime and speech control in order to continue unhindered in their geopolitical new world order machinations and in their endeavors to establish a World Government with its political and cultural agenda.  

The EU represents a proto-World Government and a testing ground for its intended policies. However, Project EU is now in serious trouble.  Presently the EU is a walking disaster and its masters find it harder and harder to keep the growing chorus of critics in check with its traditional media monopoly. The totalitarian powers are therefore needed to safeguard their political agenda and to prop up the European Union, which they have destined to serve as the proto-World Government. This political agenda may fairly be referred to as the New World Order or NWO agenda.

Tons of problems have accumulated on all fronts and the EU would rather stow them away from public scrutiny: The economy is a disaster and getting worse. The Euro currency is an utter failure and strangling the economies and people’s livelihoods with that. New independent political parties are challenging the traditional pro-EU consensus parties from right to left. People are fed up with the EU elite’s program of mass importation of migrants. The European populations are up in arms against what they see as a forceful superimposition of a repulsive alien culture and the wrecking of Europe’s traditional values by a centrally led campaign of promotion of new sexual mores, invented gender identifications and a despicable newspeak politically correct language. People have woken up to oppose the eradication of national sovereignty and the imposition of the EU superstate. The EU and the West at large are being increasingly marginalized economically, politically, culturally and militarily in the face of ever growing significance of China, Russia and other emerging free world countries.

These and other problems pose insurmountable problems for the EU and World Government projects of the Western elite, and it is therefore they are busy strengthening their repressive powers.

That the European mainstream media had been converted into a totalitarian propaganda machine should have become clear to the most lazy observer by the latest in 2013/2014 with the jaw-dropping anti-Sochi propaganda and the massive propaganda support and whitewashing of the Ukrainian coup and the atrocities in its wake - which clearly were perpetrated by people and groups that openly displayed their adherence to fascist and Nazi ideologies – on the Maidan, Odessa, Mariupol and its war of terror on the population of Donbass. The Western propaganda war on Syria in support of jihadists and Western mercenary terrorists labeling these groups “moderate rebels” should have come as final proof for those who still wanted to give the Western media the benefit of the doubt. – Now, they want to remove that doubt once and for all by the introduction of a totalitarian media regime and speech control.


LIST OF CONTENTS:

1. CEMENTING A TOTALITARIAN EU AND THE PROTO-WORLD GOVERNMENT
2. THE EU’S VERY REAL PROBLEMS
3. THE FAKE NEWS HOAX
4. MERKEL’S PLAN TO CENSOR THE MEDIA, OR THE GHOST OF GOEBBELS RISING IN BERLIN
5. THE EU’S PLAN FOR A TOTALITARIAN MEDIA REGIME AND SPEECH CONTROL
6. EU’s FULL PROGRAM OF MEDIA REPRISAL AND CENSORSHIP
7. US PLAN FOR A TOTALITARIAN MEDIA REGIME AND SPEECH CONTROL
8. REAL FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS A COMPETITION OF ARGUMENTS
9. CONCLUDING REMARKS


1. CEMENTING A TOTALITARIAN EU AND THE PROTO-WORLD GOVERNMENT

Totalitarian media regime and speech control

The scandalous resolution by the European Parliament (November 2016) calling to an infowar against Russia is actually a red herring intended to conceal the much more sinister aim of establishing a totalitarian media regime and speech control with all-out propaganda and censorship internally in the EU states. I would not deny, though, that they in fact are also to a certain degree concerned about the impact the Russian media may have in making cracks in the EU’s propaganda wall and sneaking in some truths here and there. But, even so, it wouldn’t be a concern if they didn’t fully realize that what they are doing is trying to protect the monopoly of the giant propaganda machine that their lying mainstream media is. Nobody likes it when their lies are challenged.

In an attempt to further distract the people from their more sinister aims, the drafters slipped in a hapless reference to Daesh (which is the newspeak name the EU lately prefers for what they first branded as ISIS). It reads like: “We are fighting Russia and the ISIS, that’s why we need to shut you up.” It seems to me, it would be easier to start the fight on ISIS by blocking their twitter account. And stop airing their propaganda videos.

EU is a totalitarian project from the very beginning

To fully account for the historic roots of this campaign would entail retelling the history of the European Union, for the EU in its entirety is a totalitarian project and therefore media control and propaganda have been its integral elements from the very beginning. (See, e.g. How a secretive elite created the EU to build a world government[1], The European Union always was a CIA project, as Brexiteers discover[2] and BBC Bias, Brexit, the EU, Bilderberg and Global Government[3]). In brief, the decisive coup was carried out when the dark forces behind Project EU managed to establish a totalitarian control over the mainstream media across Europe. I cannot put an exact year to when this was accomplished but it is fair to estimate that it was done by the early years of the 2000s (a dominant position was naturally reached much earlier). With the demise of the Soviet Union, there was a shift to the right in all media. The Marxist left media moved towards the social-democrats, the social-democratic media to the center, and the center to the right. Within a decade, the editorial policies of them all had more or less merged into one neoliberal stance, excepting some residue populist jargon in the former Marxist media. Simultaneously there occurred a forceful concentration of media ownership. - Ditto the mainstream political parties and their leaders from left to right.

That the European mainstream media had been converted into a totalitarian propaganda machine should have become clear to the most lazy observer by the latest in 2013/2014 with the jaw-dropping anti-Sochi propaganda and the massive propaganda support and whitewashing of the Ukrainian coup and the atrocities in its wake - which clearly were perpetrated by people and groups that openly displayed their adherence to fascist and Nazi ideologies – on the Maidan, Odessa, Mariupol and its war of terror on the population of Donbass. The Western propaganda war on Syria in support of jihadists and Western mercenary terrorists labeling these groups “moderate rebels” should have come as final proof for those who still wanted to give the Western media the benefit of the doubt.

Alternative media challenged the monopoly of the propaganda machine

In connection with the abovementioned events, the Western propaganda center was in for a massive shock seeing its narrative – so carefully scripted – challenged by the alternative media, bloggers and social media activists. The barbarians were now storming the gates of Western Fortress Propaganda. The propaganda center decided to counterattack the challenge by declaring all criticism unwarranted and fraudulent deception spread by “Russian trolls.” Their imagination then discovered an "army of well-paid trolls" laboring day and night in “troll factories” with the “Kremlin paid” task to spread false information on the internet. In the mindset of the propaganda creators this hoax then snowballed into the McCarthian bluff of labeling any dissidents – on any key point of the NWO agenda - as Russian trolls or Kremlin agents. If anybody needed proof of how unhinged the propaganda machine had become, they got it when the US Government and its media actually went as far as designating Donald Trump as a Russian agent, a Putin stooge doing the Kremlin’s bidding, whose “vast troll army” was now posing as American conservatives. Oh yes, and Russia hacking DNC and Clinton emails and even the voting systems to ensure Trump’s victory.

Assumptions regarding the “Propaganda center” and “NWO”

At this point, I must make a caveat regarding my use of concept “propaganda center.” This report provides a wealth of details proving that the Western media is habitually engaged in massive propaganda operations. These propaganda campaigns commence at the same time across the globe, or at least across the West. Hereby, leading Western politicians, “experts,” celebrities, and other opinion makers appear across the West repeating similar statements – having an obvious rehearsed character - concerning the events forming the subject of the media campaign. - As I personally follow news in seven languages, I have had the opportunity to marvel at the perfect synchronization of the timing of news campaigns (both their commencement and end). Sometimes when an event would call for immediate reaction there might not be any for hours or even or days. I have learned to put that down on the fact that the propaganda center is still working on what kind of spin to give to the events.

This report also outlines the role the CIA and the other Western intelligence agencies have in the propaganda war. I deem that the CIA has the absolutely most crucial and fundamental role in this and that it controls and directs the work of all the other intelligence agencies in this respect. Based on this and other circumstantial evidence, I have drawn the conclusion that the CIA operates a central Western propaganda center. – I share further down more details evidencing the central role of CIA as the central force coordinating the Western media propaganda.

In this connection, it is worth mentioning that the Russian FM Sergey Lavrov just recently revealed that Moscow is aware of the EU issuing periodic guidelines on how EU officials in all countries should refer to issues concerning contentions issues between Russia and the EU/USA/NATO.[4] In my understanding, these guidelines are issued by the international propaganda center. Hereby there are guiding statements for long-term propaganda operations but also rapid reaction guidelines are issued for any question that may come up from time to time.

I must make another caveat in regards to the “NWO” or the New World Order. This report outlines my understanding of the NWO and its political agenda as a globalist elite project. I consider that the European Union serves as a precursor of the NWO or its initial platform. The political and cultural agenda of the EU and its system of governance shows it as a proto-World Government.

The EU clearly follows the NWO agenda as outlined in this report. Established Western figures and sources speak openly about the desirability of a World Government, or Global Government, or a bit more euphemistically about “need for global governance” and “global integration.” For example, in his final UN speech 2016 President Obama openly called for speeding up the establishment of a global government.[5], [6]  Basically, the NWO or the “new world order” is the system of governance under the global government as well as its political vision and agenda. For some reason, though, the term “new world order” and its acronym, NWO, is not something that the Western establishment likes to use in public. While everything is true about its agenda, as outlined in this report and while they have no problem with talking about global governance, they want to see the new world order concept labeled as a conspiracy theory. However, sometimes they still let it slip through as in the speech the former President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso (who successfully segued into the position of chairman of Goldman Sachs) delivered in 2014 to the Yale School of Management titled “The European Union in the New World Order”.[7]  

We are well advised to remember that the whole concept “conspiracy theory” is a label devised by the CIA specifically for the purpose of discrediting legitimate criticism of their very own covert operations. In its first massive use, it was directed to counter the groundswell of public skepticism toward the CIA-led Warren Commission’s findings on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In this connection in 1967, the CIA wrote a dispatch, which coined the term “conspiracy theory” and recommended methods for discrediting such theories and their authors. Back then, the CIA was still quite naively formal in its approaches and actually marked the dispatch “psych”, short for “psychological operations” or disinformation, and “CS” for the CIA’s “Clandestine Services” unit.[8], [9] 

Considering these arguments as well as all the data presented in this report, I conclude that the Western elite, indeed, is driven by a vision and political agenda that we may call the New World Order (NWO). Whether they call the agenda by that name or not is irrelevant, what is relevant is the reality of the agenda and the reality of the forces that push the agenda.

Open society shut down

Coinciding with taking over the European media, the CIA and other new world order agents had managed to co-opt and coerce the European political elite and practically all the parliamentary parties across Europe.

Artists and the cultural elite had also been made to acquiesce through the powers that the NWO exercised over them by their control of Hollywood and the entertainment industry at large, and of course through their very media monopoly.

Even the Academy was silenced and subjugated, as professors and researchers became entirely dependent on grants from the EU, national states and multinational corporations with a stake in the globalization on the terms of the Western elite. Long-term tenures with a guaranteed income is of the past and today scholars must vie for these grants on a continuous basis with well-defined projects. And obviously in this Orwellian system the winning projects must be so defined as to meet the values and goals of the donors.

Finally, even civil society across Europe was taken over by the EU elite, the Deep State shadow government, by way of infiltrating and hijacking the relevant NGO’s and the peace movements from the 60’s. Some of the NGO’s were simply hijacked others created de novo as propaganda fronts. Among the former there are NGO’s like Amnesty International, Transparency International, Reporters without Borders, Freedom House, and the International Red Cross. Among the latter there are organizations like National Endowment for Democracy.

A myriad of think tanks were set up to cover the territory between the Academy and politics and to provide “reliable” sources for fake news that the mainstream media spreads and the politicians parrot. Television and newspapers have taken to interviewing carefully vetted “experts” who would confirm the agenda of the propaganda scriptwriters. For a better show a few dissenting experts are invited from time to time knowing that their voices will anyway be drowned by the overwhelming chorus of the propaganda shills.

The real opposition defamed as “far-right parties”

The defamation of the European so-called far-right parties alleging their supposed Russian connections and subservience had also started a few years back. The emergence of a number of populist parties and the challenge they pose to the elite and their Project EU had taken the propaganda center by surprise. Very few of those parties are in essence “far right,” which is mainly a defamatory label stamped on them by the propaganda machine.

In this question - as in all the other central issues at stake - the NWO planners had banked on a scenario of a static world basing their agenda on the following tacit: perpetually growing economies, which would enable keeping the Western voter calm and quiet; infinite abilities to brainwash the public on the strength of the mainstream media monopoly; a weak and dying Russia; no global challenge from China and other emerging countries around the world; and a political spectrum divided once and for all between the then existing parties and their supposed ideologies.

They have failed in each of these assumptions, the NWO project is not going as it should and problems are piling up everywhere. Therefore, this is what in reality is at stake here: they must shut up the critics and silence the discontented populations so as to hide away the problems and disguise their agenda. To accomplish this the EU and the USA Deep State governments - under the guise of countering a non-existent Russian propaganda threat - aim at establishing a totalitarian media regime and speech control. They need it to safeguard their political agenda and to prop up the European Union, which they have destined to serve as the proto-World Government. This political agenda may fairly be referred to as the New World Order, or NWO agenda.

2. THE EU’S VERY REAL PROBLEMS

Media control aims at hiding the EU’s very real problems

The EU is a walking disaster and its masters find it harder and harder to keep the growing chorus of critics in check with its traditional media monopoly.

Tons of problems have accumulated on all fronts and the EU would rather stow them away from public scrutiny. The economy is falling and the ultimate crash is delayed only by massive money printing and direct lending of it on zero rates to the governments by the ECB (the EU central bank). The result is an ever-increasing financial bubble which is about to burst any day now. While keeping the system seemingly afloat the constant infusion of the bogus money has pushed the general price level artificially high up so that it is now strangling consumers and critically hampering Europe’s business competitiveness.

For the EU-elite, the Euro monopoly is a convenient tool for financial manipulation but for the overwhelming share of the populations, it has spelt a disaster. Not ready to ditch the Euro and get rid of the economic woes, they try to cure the problems by constant rounds of new austerity measures, which do nothing but send the economy tailspinning into further destruction. Even those who are lucky to still have a job have seen drastic cuts in their income and purchasing power.

Many ask why they stick with the Euro through thick and thin when it is so obviously a failure. The reason is that the Euro, from the very beginning emerged as a product of geopolitical dreaming and scheming, as a tool to solidify the foundations of a unified Europe, a future superstate. Financial considerations and obvious flaws in the scheme acknowledged even by the die-hard planners had to yield to the all-encompassing geopolitical expediency.  - In 2009, WikiLeaks released a document, which seems to be the meeting report from the 1955 Bilderberg conference in West Germany. The document shows that the Western elite was already back then secretively working on the idea of creating the Euro.[10] I have written about the destruction wrought by the Euro monopoly and the impending catastrophe caused by it in this report from 2015: How the Dollar and Euro Monopolies Destroyed the Real Market Economy. And What Hayek Told about the Need for Competing Currencies[11]

Blindfolded towards a EU superstate

The chaos has made people realize that that the mainstream political parties - including the Greens, their newest family member - no longer address the popular needs and hopes. (European Green parties pay lip service to the ecology while they in reality pander to the neoliberal agenda). The (former) ideologies of the traditional parties from right to left have coalesced into one single indistinct mass of a neoliberal globalist ideology. Ordinary citizens in Europe – and in the US as Trump pointed out for us – feel that they bear the brunt of a rigged globalist system.

People are also fed up with the bureaucratic Juggernaut that the EU has become and its unelected EU Commission, which while blabbering about “European integration” has been in fact covertly transforming the original customs union into a transnational superstate. People feel that the EU suppresses the democratic aspirations at the level of nations as it encroaches on every aspect of people’s lives with absurd rules, directives and standards. There is understandable enormous disappointment and frustration at the EU having over the years constantly been chipping away at the right to self-determination of the nations to the point that the EU countries have lost their national sovereignty.

Superimposition of a new alien culture and the forging of Homo europaeus

In addition to the enormous frustration with the economy, a large part of the European populations is also up in arms against what they see as a forceful superimposition of a repulsive alien culture and the wrecking of Europe’s traditional values by a centrally led campaign of promotion of new sexual mores, invented gender identifications and a despicable newspeak politically correct language. The opponents feel that their way of life is subject to a countercultural transformation on the terms of cultural marxism. Judging by European Union resolutions, statements of their political leaders and the mainstream media (which the EU has officially taken under its special protection), the EU strives to deliberately replace national states, nationalities, and traditional cultures and identities with something they call multiculturalism, where people have no gender, no faith and no national allegiances. The agenda is supported by a carefully crafted code of politically correct speech and by labeling criticism as “hate speech.” Indeed, there is a feeling that the European Union tries to forge a new form of a human being, the Homo europaeus, who embodies these newly fabricated values.

People are annoyed with what seems a deliberate effort to haul in migrants from the Middle East and Africa even as their own people are suffering under increasing economic hardship and while severe reductions are being done in social spending on the elderly and other vulnerable groups of people. There is a widespread and motivated belief that the migrant influx forms part of the conscious effort to forge on people a singular EU identity and an allegiance to the superstate. The EU and its media are going to great lengths to conceal the facts of the mass import of migrants – not to mention the goals of it. They do not want the public to understand how they have rolled out the red carpet welcoming migrants at the same time as more and more of the citizen fall into poverty and deprivation. Keeping with this, they have already enacted severe rules of censorship aimed at gagging officials and the media to prevent public awareness of the inevitable problems the mass influx of these migrants have caused. Reporting on migrant crimes is now classified as hate speech. – Hereby, I must stress that the migrants themselves are innocent victims of these machinations, the blame which lies squarely on the EU-NWO leaders. Some of them are refugees and some migrants in search of a better life, and even so they naturally have a moral right to do so, the more so as they have been enticed by the EU to come.

The agenda driven multiculturalism also involves a creeping assault on the Christian church. The church is seen as an independent center of authority, which has the standing to potentially challenge Project EU (and the grander Project World Government) and therefore based on the evidence it seems that the change agenda calls for a gradual dismantling of the roles of the Christian churches. Amazingly some of the churches, namely the Nordic Lutheran churches seem to be fully collaborating – and conspiring - in the effort of their own demise.

The EU’s murderous foreign policy

The EU also has a need for media control and censorship to cover up for its aggressive foreign policy. They wish to maintain their popular image of a benevolent EU as the Nobel Peace prize laureate (sick). They do not want alternative media to remind people about the EU’s wars of aggression and terror that have led to the destruction of Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and terrorism at home, and their instigation and support for the violent coup in Ukraine and the mayhem in its wake. And, they are terribly concerned about being outed as warmongers with their ferocious anti-Russian propaganda. About their lies of alleged Russian invasion of Ukraine. Or supposed threats of Russia’s imminent invasion of Poland, the Baltic countries, or Finland and Sweden. Or their propaganda narrative about a “nasty” Russian state and its “dictator” Putin. Their lies about persecution of gays in Russia, or the “doomed” Russian economy, or the nature of Russia’s democracy etc., etc.

The EU’s eleventh hour

It is now or never for the EU as they are well aware of the fact that they are facing a Trump-moment in elections across Europe. Project EU has taken a beating in recent elections and opinion polls promise them even more agony. They lost in the last elections to the EU Parliament, they lost in parliamentary elections in Poland, Portugal, Spain, they lost the referendum in the Netherlands, they’ve recently lost in several state elections in Germany, they lost the Brexit, they lost the Italian referendum, they nearly lost the Austrian presidency, they are heavily losing in polls in Sweden, etc. etc. Popular discontent has got out of hand, the EU cannot cure the economy and does not want to back off its counterculture agenda, therefore the elite sees stifling of dissent and the imposition of a totalitarian media regime as their one last chance and best hope.

3. THE FAKE NEWS HOAX

The Western propaganda center has nearly simultaneously launched a campaign in all the Western countries to discredit alternative media, websites and blogs, by arbitrarily labelling them as “fake news” sites and accusing them of “peddling Russian propaganda.” The qualification criteria for making it to the list basically involves nothing more than that the site refuses to parrot the propaganda lines of the Western elite and their pocket governments and media. It is noteworthy that the EU and the USA have for the past two decades moved in perfect lockstep with their anti-Russian propaganda and the same marching orders are being followed now in the crackdown on dissent. It is evident that this “fake news” hype is a propaganda ploy designed by the CIA propaganda center aimed – in the first stage – at stirring false indignation concerning the alternative media and then – in the second stage – at proceeding with enacting repressive legislation to crackdown on dissenting media and establish a severe regime of media control and censorship across the Western countries.

I have not undertaken a comparative study so as to pinpoint the exact dates when the “fake news” campaign kicked off in different countries, but I remember that shills working as opinion makers (mostly journalists) have been writing columns and posting in social media about the topic for about two years now. By spring 2016, the campaign seemed to be seriously live. For example, in Finland (a tightly controlled tiny state with strong historic totalitarian tendencies as a willing ally of Hitler’s Germany) the chief editors of all mainstream media houses (including state-owned) went public with a widely published appeal condemning alternative media as “fake news media” and vowing that they themselves would stick to the principles of “ethics and good practice journalism and honest reporting” (talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing). Finland beat the USA with 2 months, publishing its own “fake news” hit list already in mid-September.

Fake news hoax and US propaganda and censorship laws

According to Zerohedge[12], the US House of Representatives passed on November 30 a bill announcing a crackdown on media, blogs and individuals who are involved in “spreading Russian propaganda and misinformation.” The bill had been introduced on November 22, that is, just two days before the Washington Post published its by now infamous and libelous article[13]    about “fake news” sites and supposed Russian propaganda. To back up its allegations, the Post cited a bogus report by a group of self-professed "experts" who want to advance the hoax that Donald Trump was elected on the strength of an elaborate Russian misinformation operation by means of infiltration of the US alternative media. The members of this shady group - which runs a website set up only this year called propornot.com (clear sign it is a special purpose propaganda vehicle) - want themselves to remain anonymous although they are supposedly calling for media transparency. (On their website they identified themselves as a “Propaganda Identification Service, since 2016”). The report listed 200 highly respected and professional alternative media websites and blogs as “fake news” sites and purveyors of Russian propaganda. Albeit the listed websites span the gamut of political ideas from right to left the accused sites largely shared five things in common:

  1. Independence from the mainstream media
  2. Criticism of the Clinton candidacy.
  3. Criticism of U.S. foreign policy.
  4. None of them publish fake news. (In a bid to raise the credibility and tarnish the reputation of the legitimate sites, the drafters included 3 actual fake news sites in the list, among them veteranstoday.com).
  5. None of them have nothing to do with “Russian propaganda,” while some of them do challenge the US Government’s neoliberal anti-Russian party line

PropOrNot claims that its fake methodology to identify “fake news” sites included the identification whether the sites carried content “in praise for Putin, Trump, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, Iran, China, and radical political parties in the US and Europe.” – All sure signs of Russian propaganda influence. Or, worse yet, the “fake news” sites were in a habit of criticizing of the United States, Barack Obama, Clinton, the European Union, Angela Merkel, NATO, Ukraine, “Jewish people,” U.S. allies, the mainstream media, Democrats, and “the center-right or center-left, and moderates of all stripes.”[14]

Both the article and the report it referred to are insipid stories seemingly penned by immature and shallow authors. But this manifestation of complete collapse of journalistic standards comes as the logical result of a couple of decades of hubris over “winning the cold war” and the ensuing virtually unchallenged global propaganda monopoly that filled the US mainstream media with propaganda shills and drained it of talent and real professionals. In the last few years with the inane anti-Putin propaganda they hit rock bottom. And this Wacko, er, WaPo article perfectly illustrates this universal degradation. Washington Post pretends to be a quality newspaper and yet they published this hogwash, where every contention is more incredible than the other. They had no qualms in shaming all those opposition media outlets as Russian propaganda shills even when the bogus report offered no evidence backing up their claims. Obviously, the Post did not expect any evidence to be forthcoming because they were into the scheme from the very beginning. But not only was there any evidence, there was actually a statement from Propornot, the fly-by-night propaganda outlet, confirming that they actually would ignore evidence altogether and that evidence wouldn’t matter anyway because they would declare a website a Russian propaganda outlet just for the mere fact that they were critical of the American propaganda or did not echo the neoliberal and NATO party lines. The claim is that in this case they would be "useful idiots" who unwittingly did Russia’s bidding.

The mainstream media is the real fake news network

It is in order to remind that it is the US and the Western mainstream media in general that are the veritable fake news networks, and have been so for decades if not for centuries. The Western elite’s recent desperation of hysteric proportions is a reflection of the panic into which they have been thrown when realizing that their increasingly brazen and preposterous lies have been successfully challenged by the alternative media and the knowledge that they have all but lost the game. For each passing year, fewer and fewer people believe their propaganda lies. Therefore, they are staking all on their one remaining card, the imposition of a totalitarian media regime and speech control.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the big lies that the mainstream media has been peddling in recent years. The fake war on terror following 9/11 as a means to pursue the neocon geopolitical agenda of absolute world hegemony, specifically the ferocious campaign of lies to justify the invasion of Iraq with the patently false claims that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and about his alleged al-Qaeda connection. “Iranian nukes,” the Libyan meltdown, “Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” Pentagon’s hiring of British public relations firm Bell Pottinger to create fake news stories about terrorist attacks in Iraq, creating and promoting the al Qaeda related propaganda group White Helmets, which creates and distributes fake stories about the Syrian war, “Putin persecuting and killing journalists,” “Putin persecuting gays.” “Russia invading Ukraine,” “Russia intending to invade the Baltics, Poland, Finland, Sweden,” “Rebels downing the MH-17 jet over Ukraine,” the Maidan coup being a peaceful revolution without foreign interference, new Ukrainian regime not being extremist and not relying on radical fascist and neo-Nazi forces, etc., etc. 

Through their lies and propaganda for war, the mainstream media is complicit in numerous war crimes, as Paul Craig Roberts writes: “Since the Clinton regime, the accumulation of war crimes committed by Western governments exceed those of Nazi Germany. Millions of Muslims have been slaughtered, dislocated, and dispossessed in seven countries. Not a single Western war criminal has been held accountable. // The despicable Washington Post is a prime apologist for these war criminals. The entire Western print and TV media is so heavily implicated in the worst war crimes in human history that, if justice ever happens, the presstitutes will stand in the dock with the Clintons, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Obama and their neocon operatives or handlers as the case may be.”[15]

Or what about the more recent propaganda lies? The hoax that Russia was hacking into DNC and Podesta email? Or that Trump is a Putin agent?

The Washington Post’s laughable fake news hoax came as the perfect climax for the whole fake news saga, as a grand finale to announce the total bankruptcy of Western mainstream media. After all, that story of the fake news sites is in itself the most revealing item of fake news, they’ve done us a service in taking the mask off finally and for good.

CIA is the mastermind behind the fake news propaganda hoax

Everything points to the fact that the CIA is the mastermind and puppet master coordinator of Western media propaganda. There is a lot of direct evidence of this as well as solid circumstantial evidence. Hereby the CIA, in partnership with the Pentagon and NATO, uses the national intelligence services of other countries as their local branches in this and other operations of subversion.

The public in general would think that the CIA is an intelligence service or spy agency tasked with finding out what foreign nations are up to (“gathering, processing and analyzing national security information”). To a certain extent that is true, however, from its very founding in 1947, the CIA was engaged to carry out clandestine and covert operations ranging from propaganda to false flag attacks and military coups and other regime change operations. For covert propaganda, the CIA had journalists on its payroll from its inception. In what was called Operation Mockingbird, the CIA recruited leading American journalists into a propaganda network to advance the ideology of the CIA's masters. The operation was directed on influencing foreign media and political campaigns and covering up for the CIA’s covert and false flag operations. It also included the funding of some student and cultural and youth organizations as well as setting up magazines as propaganda fronts. This is a fact to which the CIA itself admitted when it in 1976 explicitly announced that it would discontinue that practice in regards to the domestic media: “Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any US news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.” – The admission is true, but nobody believes that they actually stopped doing it, and rightly so, as we have recently had ample reason to see.

It is known that prior to the announcement the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird had its own stable of writers, editors and publishers consisting of as many as 3000 individuals. The disinformation network was supervised by Philip Graham, a former publisher the Washington Post. There is all reason to believe that the Washington Post is still a card-carrying member of the CIA network. The circumstances surrounding the “fake news” article, the substandard reporting that went into it and the reference to the shady and anonym bogus organization points strongly in this direction.[16]

Several influential observers of the US media give credence to the suggestion that the CIA is the mastermind of the PropOrNot scandal. Anatoly Karlin[17] argues that given “the extensive ties of Western intelligence services with MSM editors, as claimed by whistleblowers such as Udo Ulfkotte and Paul Barril, and the CIA’s allegiance to the “blue empire,” the direct involvement of Western intelligence services” in the recent fake news hoax “cannot be excluded.” Paul Craig Roberts also seems to be suspecting that PropOrNot’s funding comes from the CIA or related structures.[18] The Strategic Culture makes the convincing case that CIA and the network of assets it controls is the major purveyor of fake news.[19] It shares some very incriminating evidence also making the case of the intimate connection between the CIA and the Washington Post. According to Strategic Culture “media influencing operation targeting Russia appears to be an outgrowth of the US State Department’s Counter-Information Team of the Bureau of International Information Programs,” set up by the spymaster George W. Bush and designed to counter “Soviet disinformation.” Washington Post has a historic special relationship of longstanding with the CIA, but their ties were further deepened and sealed with gold in 2013, when the owner of Amazon (on-line bookstore) Jeff Bezos, who also happens to own The Washington Post, signed a $600 million contract with the CIA to provide cloud computing services to the agency. Based on its analysis this news service deems that it is “very likely that PropOrNot.com is a creation of The Washington Post’s cloud computing business partner, the CIA.”

The anonymous “experts” of propornot.com described themselves as a group of “concerned American citizens with a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, including professional experience in computer science, statistics, public policy, and national security affairs.” According to Strategic Culture, this is a baggage of expertise that clearly points towards a background in the CIA or any of its assets. The WaPo article itself refers to a host of the “usual suspects of Russia-bashers and CIA mouthpieces: The Daily Beast; former US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul; Rand Corporation; George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs; the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.”

In its article relating the “fake news” scandal, The Intercept[20] throws more light on the controversy. It reveals that Clint Watts - the other expert (apart from PropOrNot) on which Washington Post relied – is a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which is a think tank that advances a neoconservative and imperialist geopolitical agenda and a policy of aggression against Russia, the same malevolent geopolitical agenda of which the CIA is the custodian. Watts has personally a background as a warrior for these causes having previously worked as an FBI special agent on a Joint Terrorism Task Force and as the executive officer of the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center.

4. MERKEL’S PLAN TO CENSOR THE MEDIA, OR THE GHOST OF GOEBBELS RISING IN BERLIN

After the Clinton debacle, the Russian hacking and fake news hoax relay was passed on to Germany’s Merkel (the last vassal standing). Speaking in parliament end of November, Merkel expressed concern that alternative media outlets are responsible for subverting the government’s control over the public. She[21] claimed that alternative and social media pose a “danger to national security” as the public opinion was being swayed away from establishment politics. Translating from German, this means that Merkel tells the elite and establishment media now face overwhelming problems in spreading their lies. “We must confront this phenomenon and if necessary, regulate it,” Merkel proposes in order to rescue the license to lie. Merkel stresses that, “opinions aren’t formed the way they were 25 years ago.” Could be a reference to her native GDR, but most probably she just meant the Western mainstream media, which two are more or less the same, only the Western media used to put up a better show.

Hereby Merkel is using the CIA developed toolkit: accuse them of fake news, lies, hate speech, extremism, and even populism and then crackdown on it. – Interesting her inclusion of “populism” in the list of dangers. Participation in political processes is “democracy” when it fits the elite agenda, but “populism” when the people dare support alternative programs that contradict the elite’s totalitarian agenda. In fact, it is the same with “social media.” What is this social media but a platform for people to express and share their opinions? A crackdown on social media is then nothing else than a crackdown on people, on their right to free speech.

Merkel has concerns about the stability of our “familiar order,” no doubt the real question is about the “familiar new world order.” She wants to establish a totalitarian media regime and speech control in order to safeguard the transatlantic NWO project and the EU proto-World Government.

Thomas Jarzombek, from Merkel’s CDU party, interviewed by Germany’s Deutsche Welle On Deutsche Welle article[22] - which is a public propaganda bullhorn of the German government broadcasting in English and some 20 other languages. (And then they have a problem with Russia’s Sputnik!) – told that time is now of essence: “We have ten months until the next national election in Germany, and we need to find appropriate mechanisms.” He wantto crackdown on opposite media but adds that hereby “it's important that we never give the impression that we're censoring anything." The dilemma, then, is how to censor without letting on that you censor. Jarzombek will surely consult Goebbels’ heritage in order to work around this delicate problem.

5. THE EU’S PLAN FOR A TOTALITARIAN MEDIA REGIME AND SPEECH CONTROL

The EU Parliament’s resolution[23] attacking Russia’s “hostile propaganda” is nothing but naked propaganda in itself and a call to further escalate its hybrid war against Russia, which has been running for a decade already. Very little of what they accuse Russia for is actually true, and what is true amounts to Russia’s normal and legitimate news reporting and intergovernmental and civil society interactions. The EU’s chief concern is – quoting from the resolution (sic) – “eroding the European narrative”, that is, a direct admission that the EU is annoyed with the fact that Russia’s officials and its media have not succumbed to the Western political and media hegemony. The Russians have the audacity to challenge the EU narrative, the carefully crafted propaganda story, the EU has concocted about itself. In short, Russia is infringing on the EU’s sacred propaganda monopoly.

Russia is, they say, “provoking doubt.” Gone are the days, when Europeans admired philosophers who on the contrary called us to doubt everything, De Omnibus Dubitandum. - That’s not the principle for the new brave totalitarian Europe. - Yes, incredible as it sounds, the EU parliament openly calls for Russia to refrain from any criticism of the EU, nothing less will do than a total accord with its policies and propaganda stunts, including the EU’s own disgusting propaganda assaults on Russia. The resolution notes that Russia “rather than establishing a real dialogue,” in interaction with officials from various EU countries, advances its “propaganda purposes” in order to “publicly weaken the EU’s” political positions. In the EU newspeak a “real dialogue” would then mean an unconditional acceptance of their dictate.

The EU is beside itself because Russia dares to maintain an independent foreign policy, it’s “provoking doubt”, ‘dividing Member States,’ ‘splitting the EU,’ ‘paralyzing the decision-making process in the EU,’ ‘engineering a strategic split between the EU and USA,’ ‘discrediting the EU institutions and NATO, TTIP’, and ‘ circulating and imposing an alternative narrative’. (Note, all points taken from the infamous resolution under review).

In this same resolution that introduces this totalitarian media regime and speech control, unheard of in Europe, since Stalin’s control over the Soviet media and dissidents, the EU Parliament has the nerve to condemn Russia for some imaginary “crackdowns on independent media, journalists and civil society activists in Russia” and call “on the Commission and Member States to reinforce the protection of journalists and civil society in Russia.” The Parliament then further calls the EU to engage by all means possible in all the same subterfuge and media manipulation of which it falsely accuses Russia.

EU’s clampdown on dissent

Yet, as I already pointed out, Russia is not the main concern of the EU in this connection. Their real and primary aim is to enhance their domestic totalitarian propaganda media and speech control and to tighten the screws on internal dissent and the opposition to the EU’s destructive policies. The resolution directly identifies the threat that the internal opposition and dissidents pose to Project EU insofar as it calls to “recognize that strategic communication and information warfare is not only an external EU issue but also an internal one, and voices its concern at the number of hostile propaganda multipliers existing within the Union.

The purpose of the resolution and the hype around it (following two years of preparation in form of the propaganda hoaxes on “Russian trolls” and the half year old “Fake News” campaign) was to create a false awareness for these “dangers” and with that to initiate a push for more actual measures of repression.

The resolution outlines what measures must be undertaken. First, the EU is tasked with determining what is to be considered “propaganda and disinformation.” We have already seen that the intention would be to qualify as propaganda and disinformation (now openly also referred to as “lies”) all dissenting opinion and criticism of the EU’s current politics and its strategic development aims (that is, the NWO) agenda. The resolution itself talks about the need to counter the danger of “anti-EU propaganda”, which calls to mind the Bolshevik campaigns against “enemies of the state.” Russia - they say- is backing “anti-EU forces” within the EU. Furthermore, these “anti-EU forces” are said to “deny the basic values of liberal democracies,” that is, they are accused of being against political program of them, the EU elite. I keep referring to ‘them.’ By this I mean the EU parliament, but more particularly (like in the previous sentence) the European transatlantic elite, who effectively control the EU, its Commission and its Parliament and the Western mainstream media. It is their political agenda that is in danger. The question is about the political ambitions of a small but powerful unelected elite that now wants to make a last desperate attempt to safeguarding their Project EU by a totalitarian media regime and crackdown at dissent.

The resolution wants to counter something it refers to as “Russian efforts to disrupt the EU integration process.” – The ‘EU integration process’ is shorthand for the stratagem to transform the EU into a single superstate governed by an unelected proto-World Government. There are no democratically enacted decisions regarding such a supposed further EU integration, strictly speaking there are not even any official proclamations in this regard. The idea of the perpetrators of this scheme is to achieve their goal by subterfuge and propaganda, just as they have up to now brought about the present EU and its Euro currency. - It then becomes clear that the totalitarian media and speech control regime is not aimed at protecting the European people, but on the contrary the scheme is enacted in order to enhance the specific totalitarian vision of the elite.

Hereby it is outright touching to see that the resolution allows for the possibility that not “not all criticism of the EU or its policies necessarily constitutes propaganda or disinformation.” There! Some criticism will remain legitimate.

Hereby not only alternative and social media are in the zone of fire, as the resolution gives this sweeping definition of sources that must be censored: “the strategy of anti-EU propaganda and disinformation by third countries may take various forms and involve, in particular, traditional media, social networks [media], school programmes and political parties, both within and beyond the European Union.” (Note also the inclusion of ‘traditional media’ in the list). The resolution also echoes the EU officials and their press in calling out “extreme-right parties, populist forces and movements that deny the basic values of liberal democracies”. This is a macabre case of sham circular reasoning, where they first label dissent as “extreme-right” and “populist” and then proceed to outlaw it based on the sham label.

6. EU’s FULL PROGRAM OF MEDIA REPRISAL AND CENSORSHIP

After concluding a broad-brush definition of “propaganda and disinformation”, the resolution outlines a full arsenal of repressive measures. Here’s what is awaiting us.

Censorship of social media. Facebook has been actively censoring its content for several years with increasing ferocity. But the EU has now demanded Facebook under threat of additional reprisals to double its efforts to establish full censorship. Several people critical of the EU’s policies have been banned or blocked for lengthy times, among them, for example, people who have made posts and shared links about the truth of Donbass. Facebook has banned or seriously hampered the sharing of links to content of alternative media, among many other measures of censorship. Similar censorship manipulation happens at search engines like Google.

The totalitarian media regime also involves strangling of opposition media by cutting them out from revenue streams. Recently Google and Facebook moved to cut off ad revenue to opposition sites.[24]

Clamping down on alternative media and persecution of editors and publishers. The EU is already engaged in efforts to close down alternative media and persecute their editors and publishers, precisely for the same reasons that the resolution now identifies us dangers to the political course steered by the EU elite. A notable case is the persecution of Finnish MV-lehti and its publisher Ilja Janitskin.

Restricting of bank services and financing of the opposition

The resolution calls to “closely monitor the sources of financing of anti-European propaganda” and “to advance certain legal initiatives” aimed at “curtailing financial flows” concerning “individuals and entities engaged in” the activities that are defined as propaganda and disinformation. (The resolution also refers to these as stratcom - strategic communication - activities).

Further increasing and empowering the EU’s own propaganda machine. This involves enhanced support for the Western mainstream media (“to promote the strengthening of the resilience of the media as a strategic priority”); increased financial support for their own destructive propaganda actors (in all EU languages) such as their faux-alternative media outlets, think tanks and NGOs, propaganda campaigns in social media, sham civil society initiatives, and - last but not least – to harness the Academy yet more tightly to the propaganda war. (Once more, please, note that this is all explicitly stated in said EU Parliament Resolution)

Recognition of the role of the Western mainstream media as EU’s official propaganda bullhorn. The entire rationale for this present propaganda drive was the catastrophic decline of the authority and the influence of the Western mainstream media, MSM losing its propaganda clout. Therefore, everything in the resolution is about propping up the mainstream media. In this connection, I want to draw attention to the specific detail that the resolution explicitly calls for “cooperation with [main]stream media representatives and experts” to develop work on its propaganda definitions.

Jailing of dissidents. The EU has already moved to persecute dissidents with fabricated criminal charges. An infamous case is the jailing of the Polish Eurosceptic dissident Mateusz Piskorski, another being the persecution of Ilja Janitskin from Finland. – (I am myself the object of such persecution from the side of the Finnish government).

In the resolution, the EU Parliament calls for new and enhanced legal initiatives to further facilitate criminal persecution of alternative media figures and the opposition.

Unleashing of the spy agencies on dissidents. To demonstrate the truly totalitarian character of the resolution, the drafters go as far as calling for the spy agencies (aka intelligence services) to enforce the campaign of persecution of the opposition and dissidents. (Urges “Member State governments to be vigilant towards Russian information operations on European soil and to increase capacity sharing and counterintelligence efforts aimed at countering such operations”).

Calling NATO to a cyberwar. Finally, there is a call to NATO to ratchet up its cyberwar capabilities against Russia and, no doubt, against the internal opposition.

7. US PLAN FOR A TOTALITARIAN MEDIA REGIME AND SPEECH CONTROL

Very disturbingly, the US appears to be moving simultaneously with identical totalitarian media control and censorship initiatives. As a matter of fact, the United States has gone one step further with actually implementing new harsh speech control laws.

Zerohedge reports[25] that on November 30, one week after the Washington Post launched its witch hunt against "Russian propaganda fake news", with 390 votes for, the House passed the relevant law termed “H.R. 6393, Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.” This bill deals with a number of intelligence-related issues, including alleged Russian propaganda and contains provisions about a potential crackdown on "offenders.

The bill authorizes the government to "counter active measures by Russia to exert covert influence … carried out in  coordination with, or at the behest of, political leaders or the security services of the Russian Federation and the role of the Russian Federation has been hidden or not acknowledged publicly.” This is followed by a list of definitions of what constitute media manipulation:

  1. Covert broadcasting
  2. Media manipulation
  3. Disinformation and forgeries
  4. Funding agents of influence
  5. Establishment or funding of a front group
  6. Incitement and offensive counterintelligence
  7. Assassinations
  8. Terrorist acts

You can see that the points 1 through 4 gives as broad authority as any totalitarian government might wish for in order to silence the opposition and suppress dissent, among them the 200 alternative media sites that the Washington Post, in reference to the report from the shady CIA front organization, declared to be “fake news” sites peddling Russian propaganda.

This bill of censorship and the fake news campaign must be seen as forming part of one centrally planned and organized assault on free speech. Therefore, it is especially disturbing that the CIA front PropOrNot has gone so far as to claim that people involved in the blacklisted websites may “have violated the Espionage Act, the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and other related laws”[26] . Furthermore, this CIA front is calling for putting the blacklisted opposition media outlets under “formal investigations” and under “further scrutiny.” This has been understood as a call for the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency or any other such government agency to harass them with fabricated investigations.[27], [28]

8. REAL FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS A COMPETITION OF ARGUMENTS

Following the catastrophic concentration of Western media ownership, the coalescing of their political views into one neoliberal ideological platform, and the CIA control of that media, the conditions of media freedom and freedom of speech at large have dramatically declined in the West. The deterioration of the situation has after 2000 been so overwhelming that we may say that free speech is gone from the West. The problem is most pressing in regards to the Anglo-American media groups with global reach, the ownership of which has been concentrated in very few hands (with only a handful of dominant media corporations holding sway over most of the Western countries). These corporations have established a de facto control – I would even say censorship - over Western thinking. With seemingly unrestricted propaganda manipulation, the media has seized control over the democratic process in most of Europe and North America. – These media groups have converted the idea of freedom of speech into a license to lie. It is my conviction that the concentration of media ownership into fewer and fewer hands and the reach of their lies is the biggest threat to democracy world-wide and by implication the biggest threat to mankind itself.

In the last decade, with the rise of the alternative media there has, however, been a considerable improvement with a trend pointing towards a restitution of the lost right to freedom of speech. The whole idea of freedom of speech necessarily requires multiple access to media, speech platforms, and an ease to set up new media outlets. For real freedom of speech it is not enough that there is a theoretical right to free speech, rather it requires the existence of real opportunities to express oneself in a mass circulation media, a true possibility to voice one’s opinions, to make competing opinions known.

Freedom of speech is traditionally understood as “the right to express one's opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation or censorship from the powers that be.” This definition is lacking a crucially important second condition, which I believe has never been articulated before, namely the condition of existence of a pluralistic competitive media which de facto would guarantee that every person has a possibility to exercise the right to free speech. I call this second condition the platform condition, in reference to the need that there must exist a sufficient number of competing media outlets, or platforms for speech. In addition to a “right” there has to be an “opportunity” a real possibility to exercise this right, a real possibility for free expression.

Without awarding due consideration to the platform condition, the “right” to free speech would remain a mere declarative statement, something that could be expressed as “that would be nice to have.” The problem with that truncated definition is that the “right” there would remain a mere abstraction. The expanded definition with my suggested addendum respecting the platform condition makes this right efficacious, it materializes the right.

There must exist the condition for a real possibility to make one’s voice heard, a real possibility to express oneself and for that expression being carried to the public. But this is not how it is in the world today. Today freedom of speech remains a hallowed but empty principle that the Western politicians and their monopoly media like to brag about. They pay lip service to this sacred right, while they have de facto monopolized the speech platform, the media. – Freedom of speech is not our right to stand on a park bench and bellow out our ideas or to jabber with drinking mates in a pub. Efficacious freedom of speech requires access to mass media on equal terms for all.

At the final analysis, freedom of speech, like everything else, is a function of a competition of arguments. (I have written about freedom of speech as a competition of arguments in my book All is Art.[29])

A newspaper, a media outlet is always biased. Cynically we could say that each media lies in its own particular way. In a competitive media environment one lie would be challenged by another competing lie, one lie would cancel the other lie, and in a perfect competition the outcome would be truth. The more, in a perfect competitive media environment those actors who would aim at being taken seriously would temper their lies in advance anticipating the rightful criticism from competing media.

Today, just as the Western governments have started their unprecedented attack on alternative media and social media platforms we have reached a development trend that could have ushered in an environment of true freedom of speech. The monopoly of the Western mainstream media is seriously wobbling and strong challenge has emerged from various directions: media of other than Western countries challenging the Western monopoly at their turfs; multiple strong alternative media outlets; social media, which really has enabled everyone to utilize his right to freedom of speech.

But now, the masks are off. This real environment of freedom of speech is precisely what the Western elite, their governments and their media are afraid of. They now want to stop it at all costs and introduce a totalitarian media regime a speech control. For them the slogan “freedom of speech” has really only been a cover for dressing up their media monopoly, for their license to lie.

9. CONCLUDING REMARKS

By way of concluding remarks, I think it is interesting to draw some historic parallels. During the previous Cold War, the Soviet government chose to guard against Western influences and internal criticism by establishing a totalitarian media regime and speech control just as the West is right now doing in turn. After Vladimir Putin assumed the leadership of Russia, he in the beginning of 2000’s acknowledged that the Russian society was subject to a constant brazen campaign of influence from the side of the West both through covert and open means of propaganda and other forms of subversion.  Putin back then declared that Russia would withstand that subterfuge and develop its own democracy but that Russia thereby would not repeat the errors of the Soviet Union trying to close down society, Russia would maintain an open society while developing its fragile democracy and counter the Western subterfuge with the truth. Almost two decades later, we can see that Putin has succeeded. Russia has developed into an open society with a free and sovereign democracy while it is in the West that the ghost of totalitarianism is on the rise.  

Finally, I want to point out how the EU Parliament resolution on “combatting Russian propaganda” reads as a projection on Russia of all the shenanigans and trickery that the EU and its American partner have been subjecting Russia to through the years. Below is an extract from said resolution, you could exchange “Russia” and any Russian references to “EU” or “US” and then you will have an exact list of what they have been up to against Russia during the last two decades while Russia has successfully struggled, notwithstanding the West, to become a free society. In the text, I have highlighted in bold the key devices from the EU and US regime change toolkit, which they now deceitfully accuse Russia of applying against themselves.

“The EU Parliament “Recognises that the Russian Government is aggressively employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks and special foundations (e.g. Russkiy Mir), special authorities (Rossotrudnichestvo), multilingual TV stations (e.g. RT), pseudo news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik), cross-border social and religious groups, as the regime wants to present itself as the only defender of traditional Christian values, social media and internet trolls to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood; stresses that Russia invests relevant financial resources in its disinformation and propaganda instruments engaged either directly by the state or through Kremlin-controlled companies and organisations; underlines that, on the one hand, the Kremlin is funding political parties and other organisations within the EU with the intent of undermining political cohesion, and that, on the other hand, Kremlin propaganda directly targets specific journalists, politicians and individuals in the EU.”

FOOTNOTES:The way that they now publicly wage this propaganda war shows that they are really in panic. They remind me of the famous series of videos with Hitler in his bunker surrounded by his closest advisors just before the final defeat.

They are desperate. And they will all be wiped out soon, very soon.
I really hope there will be a trial, better yet that they would be lynched on the streets the way they had Saddam and Gaddafi lynched.


[1]  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/eureferendum/12018877/The-truth-how-a-secretive-elite-created-the-EU-to-build-a-world-government.html

[2]  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/04/27/the-european-union-always-was-a-cia-project-as-brexiteers-discov/

[3]  http://www.globalresearch.ca/bbc-bias-brexit-the-eu-bilderberg-and-global-government/5518878

[4]  http://tass.com/politics/918809

[5]  https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/20/address-president-obama-71st-session-united-nations-general-assembly

[6]  http://www.activistpost.com/2016/09/obama-america-must-surrender-sovereignty-embrace-one-world-government.html

[7]  http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-14-612_en.htm

[8]  https://projectunspeakable.com/conspiracy-theory-invention-of-cia/

[9]  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-02-23/1967-he-cia-created-phrase-conspiracy-theorists-and-ways-attack-anyone-who-challenge

[10]  http://www.globalresearch.ca/bbc-bias-brexit-the-eu-bilderberg-and-global-government/5518878

[11]  http://www.awarablogs.com/dollar-euro-monopolies-destroyed-market-economy/

[12]  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-02/house-quietly-passes-bill-targeting-russian-propaganda-websites

[13]  https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/russian-propaganda-effort-helped-spread-fake-news-during-election-experts-say/2016/11/24/793903b6-8a40-4ca9-b712-716af66098fe_story.html?utm_term=.6f8355bf3b89

[14]  https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Byj_1ybuSGp_NmYtRF95VTJTeUk/view

[15]  http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/11/27/the-western-war-on-truth-paul-craig-roberts/

[16]  http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/30/the-cia-and-the-press-when-the-washington-post-ran-the-cias-propaganda-network/

[17]  http://www.unz.com/akarlin/fake-news-fizzles-on-arrival/

[18]  http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2016/11/27/the-western-war-on-truth-paul-craig-roberts/

[19]  http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/11/28/major-purveyor-fake-news-cia-corporate-complex.html

[20]  https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully-promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group/

[21]  http://yournewswire.com/merkel-internet-alternative-media/

[22]  http://www.dw.com/en/experts-say-laws-not-enough-as-germany-fights-bots-and-fake-news/a-36528332

[23]  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-%2F%2FEP%2F%2FTEXT+REPORT+A8-2016-0290+0+DOC+XML+V0%2F%2FEN

[24]  http://yournewswire.com/merkel-internet-alternative-media/

[25]  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-02/

[26]  https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully-promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group/

[27]  http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/11/28/major-purveyor-fake-news-cia-corporate-complex.html

[28]  https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully-promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group/

[29]  hellevig.net

Исследование, проведённое «Авара Груп», показывает, что российская экономика продолжает развиваться несмотря на санкции.

Author: Jon Hellevig December 13, 2014

Здесь вы можете ознакомиться с полной версией исследования в PDF.

«Авара Груп» представляет результаты исследования экономики России «Путин 2000 – 2014 гг. Промежуточные итоги: диверсификация, модернизация и роль государства в российской экономике. Витгенштейновский взгляд на российскую экономику».

Как показывает исследование, представляемое сегодня работающей в России консалтинговой фирмой «Авара Груп», российская экономика не настолько зависит от нефтегазовых доходов, как это обычно утверждается. Изучив динамику ключевых показателей экономического развития России за 2000—2013 гг. Разрываемая кризисом, ослабленная за годы грабительского капитализма и анархии 1990-х гг. экономика, которую Владимир Путин унаследовал в 2000 г., сегодня достигла зрелости, что даёт нам все основания считать, что Россия сможет совершить индустриальный рывок, о котором говорил президент.


Исследование выявило, что российская экономика продемонстрировала впечатляющие показатели развития в 2000—2013 гг., а также что она находится в здоровом состоянии:

  • Доля доходов от продажи природных ресурсов (сумма доходов от продажи нефти, природного газа, угля, полезных ископаемых и древесины) в ВВП сократилась более чем на половину в 2000—2012 гг. (с 44,5% до 18,7%). Фактическая доля нефтегазовых доходов составила 16%.
  • Рост российского промышленного производства составил свыше 50%. В то же время была проведена его полная модернизация.
  • Рост производства продуктов питания составил 100% в 2000—2013 гг.
  • В то же время более чем в два раза вырос объём производства легковых автомобилей. И при этом было проведено масштабное обновление модельного ряда.
  • Рост объёма российского экспорта составил почти 400%, что превосходит аналогичный показатель во всех крупных западных странах.
  • Рост объёма экспорта товаров, не связанных с нефтью и газом, составил 250%.
  • По сравнению с конкурирующими западными державами более чем в два раза вырос объём российского экспорта.
  • Доля доходов от продажи нефти и газа в составе совокупных государственных доходов составляет не 50%, как это обычно утверждается, а всего лишь 27,4%. Основной источник поступлений в государственный бюджет — налоги с фонда оплаты труда.
  • Совокупная налоговая ставка в России, равная 29,5%, является одной из самых низких среди развитых стран, а совокупная налоговая ставка, не связанная с нефтью и газом, составляет 50% от аналогичного показателя в западных странах.
  • ВВП России вырос более чем в 10 раз в 1999—2012 гг.
  • Доля государственного сектора в общей численности рабочей силы в России невысока по сравнению со странами с развитой экономикой. Государственные служащие составляют 17,7% от общей численности рабочей силы , что обеспечивает России среднее положение по сравнению с мировыми экономиками.
  • Производительность труда в России составляет не 40% от уровня западных стандартов, как это обычно утверждается, а 80%.

Правительство России занимается масштабными инвестициями во все секторы экономики, прежде всего в авиастроение, судостроение, производство машин и технологического оборудования с высокой добавленной стоимостью, не «полагаясь» исключительно на нефтегазовую ренту.

Мы твёрдо убеждены в том, что всем будет полезно знать истинное состояние дел в российской экономике, её реальные достижения за прошедшее десятилетие и истинный потенциал. Знать истинное состояние дел в равной степени полезно как друзьям, так и противникам России, инвесторам и российскому населению — и, конечно, российскому правительству, которое не слишком много и часто говорит о реальных экономических достижениях. Считаю, что точные данные о России насущно необходимы и лидерам стран, являющихся её геополитическими противниками. Точные данные помогут инвесторам получать прибыль. 

Дополнительную информацию можно получить, обратившись к Йону Хеллевигу:
info@awaragroup.com
+7-495-2253038

Здесь вы можете ознакомиться с полной версией исследования в PDF.

Краткое изложение некоторых фактов развития российской экономики в 2000 - 2013 годах.

1. Доля дохода от экспорта природных ресурсов (нефть, газ, уголь, минералы и древесина) в ВВП более чем в два раза уменьшилась (с 44,5% до 18,7%) в промежутке между 2000 и 2012 годами. Реальная доля доходов от нефти и газа составляет 16%.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 25 в PDF-версии

2. Промышленное производство в России выросло более чем на 50%, и это при том, что в то же самое время оно было полностью модернизировано.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 18 в PDF-версии

3. Производство продуктов питания выросло на 100

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 23 в PDF-версии

4. Производство автомобилей возросло более чем в два раза, одновременно был полностью обновлен весь модельный ряд.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 21 в PDF-версии

5. Российский экспорт вырос в 5 раз.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 11 в PDF-версии

6. Прирост экспорта без учета нефти и газа составил 250%.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 11 в PDF-версии

7. По сравнению с промышленно развитыми странами показатель роста российского экспорта увеличился более чем в два раза за данный промежуток времени.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 12 в PDF-версии

8. Доля прибыли от нефти и газа в государственном доходе составляет отнюдь не 50%, как многие утвержают, а всего лишь навсего 27,4 %. Наибольшая доля приходится на налоги на оплату труда.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 37 в PDF-версии

9. Общая величина налогообложения в России, являющаяся одной из самых низких среди развитых стран, составляет 29,5%, а если вычесть налоги на нефтегазовый доход, то и вовсе половину от их показателей.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 25 в PDF-версии

10. Доля "бюджетников" в общем количестве работоспособных граждан не так уж и высока по сравнению с другими странами.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 28 в PDF-версии

11. Уровень российского ВВП вырос в 10 раз.

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 36 в PDF-версии

12. Показатель производительности труда в России находится на уровне в 80% от показателей большинства западных передовых стандартов, а не 40%, как это часто утверждается.
ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 42 в PDF-версии

13. Велико заблуждение в том, что Россия полагается только на доходы от нефти и газа: российское правительство проводит программу широкомасштабного инвестирования во все секторы экономики, самые существенные доли приходятся на авиацию, кораблестроение и высокотехнологичное оборудование. Нельзя не отметить развитие одного из ключевых направлений развития – производства фармацевтических препаратов
ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 53 в PDF-версии


ВСТУПЛЕНИЕ

Почему освещение в СМИ состояния дел в российской экономике является искажённым и ложным?

Цель данного исследования — опровергнуть постоянно повторяемые утверждения о том, что Россия якобы не провела диверсификацию и модернизацию своей экономики. Как показано в нашем отчёте, особенно ложными являются заявления о том, что Правительство России не сделало ничего в этом отношении, что оно полагается на нефтегазовую ренту и что у него нет понимания того, что необходимо сделать гораздо больше. Как раз наоборот, под управлением Путина российское государство направляет все свои свободные ресурсы на решение этой задачи. И первые итоги этих усилий весьма впечатляют. В настоящее время в этом направлении реализуется целый ряд проектов, имеющих стратегическое значение.

Естественно, речь не идёт о том, что российская экономика находится в идеальном состоянии, она далека от этого. (Хотя, с другой стороны, возникает вопрос, в какой стране состояние экономики можно охарактеризовать как идеальное?) Речь идёт о том, что российская экономика достигла первичной зрелости, что обеспечивает ей надёжную базу для последующего рывка к дальнейшей индустриализации и созданию развитого промышленного производства, использующего самые передовые технологии. Именно поэтому мы уверены в том, что Россия сможет совершить «настоящий индустриальный рывок», о котором недавно говорил президент Путин. Путин предполагает создание сильных национальных компаний в машиностроительной и обрабатывающих отраслях, способных стать крупными экспортёрами промышленных товаров, конкурентоспособных на мировых рынках. По словам Путина, это также послужит мощным стимулом для новых инвестиций в прикладную науку и НИОКР в областях машино- и приборостроения.

Мы твёрдо убеждены в том, что всем будет полезно знать истинное состояние дел в российской экономике, её реальные достижения за прошедшее десятилетие и истинный потенциал. Знать истинное состояние дел в равной степени полезно как друзьям, так и противникам России, инвесторам и российскому населению — и, конечно, российскому правительству, которое не слишком много и часто говорит о реальных экономических достижениях. По нашему мнению, точные данные о России насущно необходимы и лидерам стран, являющихся её геополитическими противниками. Точные данные помогут инвесторам получать прибыль, а политическим деятелям — поддерживать мир. Знание того факта, что Россия не является экономическим инвалидом, как её постоянно изображают, поможет сбить противников с курса, ведущего к столкновению с Россией, на который они встали.

В этом отчёте мы приведем факты, которые должны убедить читателя, заинтересованного в поиске правды о впечатляющих достижениях России за прошедшее десятилетие в области подъёма, реструктуризации, диверсификации и модернизации экономики. Основываясь на этих данных, не остаётся сомнений в том, что индустриальный рывок будет действительно совершён в течение следующих 10 лет.

Нам постоянно говорят о том, что Россия якобы «полагается» на нефтегазовую ренту.

Нам постоянно говорят, что в эпоху Путина, начиная с 2000 г. и по сей день, Россия не делала ничего для диверсификации и модернизации своей экономики, якобы полагаясь только на нефтегазовую ренту. Это утверждение повторяется в экономическом анализе настолько часто, что это уже начинает напоминать пропаганду, а не аналитику. Примером этому может служить статья, опубликованная в британской газете Telegraph. Смехотворные утверждения такого рода занимают центральное место во всех деловых и политических комментариях о России в западных СМИ. Такого рода репортажи выдаются за экономический анализ, например, в работах неутомимого критика Путина Андерса Ослунда. Недавно такого рода комментарии были взяты на вооружение даже лидерами стран – соперниц России. Даже Президент США Барак Обама, который, казалось бы, учитывая огромные разведывательные и аналитические ресурсы своей страны, должен быть лучше информирован о важнейших мировых тенденциях, позволяет себе делать такие необдуманные высказывания, как: «Россия ничего не производит. Иммигранты не стремятся в Москву в поисках возможностей. Численность населения сокращается». Каждое из этих утверждений Обамы ошибочно. В этом отчете мы будем разбираться с первым утверждением на счет промышленного производства и экономической диверсификации России. Бывший государственный секретарь США Хиллари Клинтон тоже думает, что она знает, что: «Россия не диверсифицировала свою экономику. Она в значительной степени зависит от природных ресурсов, в первую очередь от газа и нефти». Лидеры меньших государств западного полушария, как попугаи, повторяют то же самое. Даже Александр Стабб, премьер-министр Финляндии, крошечного соседа России, упрямо держится этого мнения и распространяет утверждения о якобы бедственном и безнадёжном состоянии российской экономики).

Любопытно, откуда они берут эти идеи.

Навёрстывая упущенное время

Больше всего удручает то, что постоянная несправедливая критика ситуации в российской экономике — в действительности всей социально-политической жизни в России — это полное игнорирование фактора времени. Даже и попытки не делается соотнести состояние российской экономики и достигнутого прогресса со временем, которое было в распоряжении у страны. По нашему мнению, отправная точка, с которой следует начинать отсчёт, — это начало 2000-х гг. или, если быть точнее, конец 2004 г. Под этим мы понимаем временную точку, когда Россия впервые достигла минимальной социально-политической стабильности, позволившей сменявшим друг друга правительствам страны под руководством Путина начать думать о таких прозаических вещах, как экономическая стратегия и индустриализация. До того, как Путин стал президентом страны в 2000 г., речь шла о выживании, формировании элементарных структур и восстановлении управляемости на всей территории страны. Первые несколько лет президентства Путина можно охарактеризовать как оказание реанимационной помощи России, страдавшей от тяжёлых последствий разрушения советской экономики, начавшегося в конце 1980-х гг., и последовавших за этим анархии и грабительского капитализма 1990-х гг. Путин воспользовался возможностями позитивного развития, как только они появились. А затем он добился феноменальных результатов в развитии экономики и общества в целом.

Игнорируя фактор времени и состояние хаоса в отправной точке, самозваные эксперты по России стремятся сравнивать Россию с крупными западными странами, которые создавали рыночную экономику в течение нескольких столетий. Но им и этого мало — они не только игнорируют фактор времени, но и искажают сравнительные данные по России. И мы покажем как.

КРАТКОЕ ИЗЛОЖЕНИЕ ОСНОВНЫХ РЕЗУЛЬТАТОВ ИССЛЕДОВАНИ

Витгенштейн: «разрушаются лишь воздушные замки, и расчищается почва языка, на которой они стояли»

1. Анализируя состояние дел в российской экономике, нельзя, если действовать разумно, ограничиваться — как это делают заблуждающиеся аналитики — изучением вопроса о доле нефти и газа в структуре экспорта, не учитывая при этом все прочие аспекты экономической ситуации в стране. В конце концов, нефтегазовая отрасль никоим образом не отбирает ресурсы у остальных отраслей экономики. Наоборот, она занимает лишь 3% рабочей силы и субсидирует остальные отрасли экономики за счёт доходов от экспорта и высоких налогов. Вопреки тому, что нам говорят, Россия не рискует заразиться «голландской болезнью».

2. В соотвествии с данными Всемирного Банка, доля доходов в ВВП от продажи полезных ископаемых (нефти, газа, угля, минералов и леса) уменьшились более чем в 2 раза с 44,5 % до 18,7 % за 12 лет с 2000 по 2012 гг.. Доля нефтегазовых доходов от продаж (за вычетом доходов от других полезных ископаемых) была 16%.

3. Тезис о том, что российская экономика якобы потерпела неудачу, почти полностью основывается на одном единственном утверждении, повторяемом изо дня в день: «Доля нефти и газа в структуре российского экспорта составляет 70%». Сам по себе этот показатель экспорта верен, но экономический анализ на этом не заканчивается. В этой связи критики стремятся полностью игнорировать впечатляющие результаты развития внутренней промышленности, экономики в целом и социальных структур в частности. Показатели экспорта никоим образом не являются единственной мерой степени диверсификации экономики. Естественно, что в ходе исторического развития любой национальной экономики сначала удовлетворяются внутренние потребности. И именно это никак не могут понять заблуждающиеся самозваные эксперты по России. Они не хотят понять, что за 10 лет Россия полностью модернизировала свою экономику и промышленность, удовлетворив тем самым огромный внутренний спрос. Вполне естественно, что в течение первых 10 лет экономической реструктуризации сначала удовлетворяется спрос на внутреннем рынке, а уже затем развивается деятельность на внешних рынках. За эти 10 лет Россия действительно заполнила вакуум на внутреннем рынке, обеспечив впечатляющий рост промышленного производства на уровне 50%.

Поскольку компании как хозяйствующие субъекты стремятся не удовлетворять прихоти экономистов-аналитиков, а зарабатывать прибыль на российском рынке, во время реиндустриализации страны они сначала удовлетворили спрос на внутреннем рынке. Возможно, очень немногие компании могли бы позволить себе руководителя, который отказывался бы продавать продукцию на внутреннем рынке, но стремился бы поскорее начать её экспортировать лишь для того, чтобы удовлетворить спрос западных и псевдолиберальных аналитиков на диверсификацию российской экономики. Нет, компании не работают на таких аналитиков — они работают на своих акционеров, продавая свою продукцию или услуги там, где они могут получить максимальную прибыль.

4. Но и на этом не заканчивается экономический анализ. Если бы аналитики удосужились вникнуть в суть дела немного глубже, а не удовлетворялись расхожими утверждениями о том, что «доля\ нефти и газа составляет 70%…», то они смогли бы понять, что в действительности совокупный объём экспорта вырос пятикратно за 2000—2013 гг. (со 103 млрд до 526 млрд долл. США), и поэтому экспорт продукции, не связанной с нефтью и газом, также вырос на колоссальные 250%. Если эти достижения за 12 лет не впечатляют, то чего же тогда они ожидали? Удвоения показателей каждые два года? ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 11 в PDF-версии.

5. Кроме того, критики упускают из вида, что, собственно, в самой структуре экспорта нефти и газа наблюдается интересная тенденция диверсификации, связанная с тем, что Россия совершила серьезный переход от экспорта сырой нефти к экспорту продуктов нефтепереработки с более высокой добавленной стоимостью. Экспорт нефтепродуктов вырос на 900% (с 10,9 млрд до 109 млрд долл. США). Доля нефтепродуктов с более высокой добавленной стоимостью выросла относительно сырой нефти в общей структуре экспорта нефти с 30,6% до 38,6%. ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 11 в PDF-версии.

6. Несмотря на постоянные обвинения, что России не удалось наладить масштабный экспорт промышленных товаров, игнорируется тот факт, что очень немногие страны в мире смогли наладить такой экспорт. Прошу читателя перечислить 10 стран в дополнение к Китаю, которые смогли это сделать за последние 20 лет. Несмотря на сокращение объёмов экспорта (кроме Германии), свою продукцию продолжают экспортировать те страны, которые и раньше занимали лидирующие позиции в этой области. Как и в случае с Россией, в структуре экспорта двух стран-членов «группы семи» (G7), Австралии и Канады преимущественную роль играют сырьевые товары. ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 12 в PDF-версии.

7. Объём производства продуктов питания в России удвоился в 2000—2013 гг. В то же время экспорт продуктов питания стремительно вырос с нуля до 16 млрд долл. США.

8. В этом отчёте не обсуждается рост объёмов розничной торговли, однако хотелось бы отметить то, что следует знать всем реальным экспертам: российский сектор розничной торговли за эти годы прошёл полную реструктуризацию и модернизацию. На рынок пришли серьёзные российские и иностранные сети розничной торговли, а некогда повсеместные базары и барахолки уступили место современным торговым комплексам и логистическим центрам. Естественно, развитие розничной торговли предшествует развитию производства, а развитие производства — развитию экспорта.

9. Не согласны мы и с утверждением о том, что Россия не диверсифицировала свою экономику. Наверное, это всего лишь ещё одно бессмысленное заявление, которое ничего не означает.

Надо понимать, что поскольку Россия — это рыночная экономика, то неверными являются утверждения критиков о том, что овеществлённая «Россия» не диверсифицировалась. В этой связи не существует никакой «России», а существует лишь совокупность компаний, принимающих собственные бизнес-решения. А насколько нам известно, они приняли правильные решения инвестировать в Россию и удовлетворять внутренний спрос.

Может быть, под «Россией» они подразумевают только Правительство России. И в этой связи задают вопрос: достаточно ли сделало Правительство России (читай: Путин) для создания условий для экономического развития, диверсификации и модернизации? На этот вопрос в этом отчёте даётся убедительный ответ: да, достаточно. Вряд ли стоило ожидать более впечатляющих итогов за первые 14 лет этой работы.

Кроме создания условий для процветания предприятий, государство также может играть более активную роль в экономике. А разве Правительство России при Путине этого не сделало? Да, сделало. Государство успешно реализовало целевые стратегические программы развития различных отраслей экономики и промышленности.

И наконец, задают вопрос о прямом праве собственности государства на предприятия и инвестиции в промышленность. А разве Правительство России при Путине не сделало достаточно в этом отношении? Нет! Одну минутку. А разве это не то, чего хотят критики? «Никаких государственных инвестиций в промышленность!» — скандируют критики, словно боевой клич. Они хотят иметь и то, и другое. «Нет никакой диверсификации экономики!» — выкрикивают эти же критики. Однако в то же время они насмехаются над всеми инициативами Путина, связанными с инвестициями в промышленность. К счастью, все их глупые утверждения всё чаще и чаще остаются неуслышанными, поскольку, заложив солидную базу для будущего, Россия в настоящее время переходит по программе Путина к следующему этапу развития экономики — совершению индустриального рывка. ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 49 в PDF-версии.

10. Государственный сектор. Утверждается, что в государственном секторе России якобы проявляется диспропорциональность. В этом отчёте будет показано, что этот довод также является ложным и безосновательным. Государственный сектор в России — самый небольшой среди стран с развитой экономикой, если его оценивать по трём ключевым параметрам.

Хотя совокупная налоговая ставка в России составляет 29,5%, в странах развитого евросоциализма, таких, как Финляндия, Швеция и Франция, совокупная налоговая ставка — 45%. Это означает, что по сравнению с западными странами Правительство России взимает со своих граждан и компаний налоги по существенно более низким ставкам.

Размер государственного сектора можно также оценить исходя из доли государственных расходов в ВВП. По этому показателю Россия также занимает существенно более низкое место по сравнению с большинством западных стран — прим. на 2/5 меньше, чем в странах Северной Европы.

Доля государственного сектора в общей численности рабочей силы в России не высока по сравнению со странами с развитой экономикой. Государственные служащие составляют 17,7% от общей численности рабочей силы в России, что обеспечивает ей среднее положение по сравнению с мировыми экономиками.
ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 28 в PDF-версии.

11. Доходы на нефть и газ не составляют 50% поступлений в государственный бюджет России, как это обычно утверждается, а всего лишь 27,4%. Таким образом, это даже не самый большой источник государственных доходов. Самый большой источник — поступления от налогов с фонда оплаты труда, составляющие 28,8%.

Однако, несмотря на то, что доля налоговых поступлений от продажи нефти и газа не настолько велика, как это обычно утверждается, нефтегазовая отрасль находится под существенным налоговым бременем. И это никоим образом не ущемляет экономику, как критики хотят заставить нас думать. Совсем наоборот, достаточно высокие налоги, взимаемые с нефтегазовой отрасли, в действительности означают, что она субсидирует остальные отрасли экономики, в которых применяются одни из самых низких ставок налогообложения среди всех развитых стран. Совокупная налоговая ставка в России за вычетом налогов на нефтегазовую отрасль составляет всего лишь 24,1% (2012 г.)

ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 37 в PDF-версии.

12. Прямые иностранные инвестиции. Критики постоянно утверждают, что России якобы не удалось привлечь прямые иностранные инвестиции в свою экономику. Это заявление так же неверно, как и большая часть их, с позволения сказать, анализа. В действительности за последние три года Россия стала третьей страной мира, после США и Китая, по уровню притока прямых иностранных инвестиций. Если измерить отток прямых иностранных инвестиций как процент от ВВП соответствующей страны, то Россия, а за ней Польша окажутся абсолютными лидерами в 2011—2013 гг.

После проведённых Путиным налоговой реформы и других масштабных реформ российского общества, таких, как укрепление судебной системы, создание правового государства и реформирование системы государственного управления, валовый внутренний продукт (ВВП) России в долларовом выражении вырос десятикратно с того момента, как Владимир Путин впервые стал президентом страны в 2000 г. В конце 1999 г. показатель номинального ВВП России составлял 196 млрд долл. США. К концу 2012 г. показатель номинального ВВП вырос до 2 015 млрд долл. США. За 12 лет рост составил свыше 1000%. ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 36 в PDF-версии.

13. Производительность труда в России не составляет всего лишь 40% от уровня стран с развитой экономикой, как утверждают критики. В лучшем случае неверна сама используемая ими методика оценки производительности труда исходя из показателей ВВП, а в худшем, что вероятнее, она просто бессмысленна. То же самое относится и к методике международного сравнения показателей производительности труда между компаниями путём соотнесения объёма выручки от продаж с общей численностью рабочей силы. ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 42 в PDF-версии.

14. По своему обыкновению, критики отказываются признавать заслуги Путина в деле удивительного роста экономики России с того момента, как он возглавил страну. Всё это было якобы достигнуто за счёт неожиданных доходов от экспорта нефти после роста цен на сырую нефть на мировых рынках, который совпал со сроком его президентства. И при этом те же самые критики ставят в вину Путину заключение в тюрьму Михаила Ходорковского. Однако всё дело в том, что тем самым Путин обуздал грабительских олигархов, в частности Ходорковского. И только тогда Путин смог принять законодательство, обеспечившее налогообложение огромных нефтяных активов России во благо российской экономики и её народа. ПОДРОБНЕЕ на странице 49 в PDF-версии.

«Вопрос не в открытии новых фактов, а в том, чтобы найти способ выразить то, что мы все время уже знали»: Витгенштейн


Российский рынок розничной торговли 1990‐х…


…он же в 2009 году

КОММЕНТАРИЙ

Действительно, мы глубоко поражены отсутствием профессионализма у аналитиков-экономистов и политологов, занимающихся изучением российской экономики. Возможно ли, чтобы они постоянно упускали из вида основные моменты? Они не только неверно анализируют основополагающие тенденции в экономике, но зачастую даже факты трактуют неверно. Разбираясь во всей этой большой путанице, мы старались следовать старинной пословице: «Никогда не приписывайте злому умыслу то, что вполне можно объяснить некомпетентностью. Но никогда не исключайте злого умысла, если анализ слаб в интеллектуальном отношении».

Экономические и политические наблюдатели, с пренебрежением рассуждающие на тему российской экономики, по своему обыкновению заявляют, что Россия «полагается» исключительно на нефтегазовую ренту. Как написал один из таких аналитиков: «В то время как остальные страны мира пытаются бороться с раздробленностью производственно-сбытовых цепочек в обрабатывающей промышленности и стремятся перейти к производству товаров с более высокой добавленной стоимостью, Россия по-прежнему полагается на модель роста, основанную на преимущественном развитии сырьевого сектора» Суть этого аргумента состоит в том, что президент Путин якобы является безрассудным лидером, который не понимает или не уделяет должного внимания экономическим реалиям и будущим перспективам, у которого преобладают недальновидные иллюзии, что нефтегазовая рента перенесёт Россию из дня сегодняшнего в день завтрашний. Они изображают Путина как беспечного славного малого, транжирящего доходы от продажи нефти и газа и не заботящегося о развитии экономики в целом. Неудивительно, что, как показывает наш анализ, существует много различной чепухи. Совершенно вопреки представлению о том, что Россия якобы прожигает доходы от продажи нефти и газа, в действительности она использует доходы от продажи нефти и газа для субсидирования развития всех остальных секторов экономики.

Ещё пример утверждения о том, что «Россия полагается на нефтегазовую ренту», приводится директором Московского Центра Карнеги Дмитрием Трениным Тренин пишет, что у России «отсутствует реальная экономическая мощь» (интересно, как он определяет этот термин в свете данных, представленных в нашем отчёте), и риторически изрекает: «если она не сумеет устранить этот существенный недостаток», то она обречена. И следует вывод: Путин так и не понял, что экономику нужно укреплять, и ничего для этого якобы так и не было сделано. Тренин заявляет: «России надо работать над…» (однако он не заметил никакой работы, несмотря на то, что такой анализ как раз его же работа) — отслеживать эти вопросы) «…совершенствованием качественных показателей: повышать производительность труда, развивать научный и технологический потенциал, и в целом повышать качество жизни народа». И при отсутствии этого «Россия опустится ещё ниже». Совершенно понятно, что Тренин мог и упустить из вида достижения в области развития научного и технологического потенциала, учитывая поверхностность его подхода (вероятно, он полагается на данные журнала «Экономист» и другие аналогичные источники), но неспособность Дмитрия Тренина как живущего в России россиянина заметить повышение качества жизни российского народа в целом, к сожалению, мы вынуждены приписать злому умыслу.

Заявление о том, что «Россия не диверсифицировалась», особенно примечательно не только потому, что оно ложно, но и потому, что люди, делающие такие заявления, как правило, либо западные приверженцы теории свободного рынка, либо доморощенные российские псевдолибералы. Можно задаться вопросом: что такое эта овеществлённая «Россия», которая, по их мнению, потерпела неудачу в этой деятельности? Кажется, они имеют в виду государство и в частности Путина и его правительство. Но если это так, то они поступают весьма непоследовательно согласно канонам их собственной идеологии. Ведь именно они утверждают, что государство не должно вмешиваться в экономику. Если так и должно быть, то почему они считают, что государство не провело диверсификацию? Что нужно было государству сделать? Вкладывать больше средств в предприятия? Но разве это не то, против чего они и выступают? Как становится очевидно из этого отчёта, государство сделало многое для диверсификации во всех отношениях: обеспечило благоприятный налоговый режим, улучшило деловой климат, обеспечило поддержку компаниям и целым секторам экономики в их усилиях по диверсификации, модернизировало экономику. И совсем недавно Путин объявил о том, что он осуществит эти пожелания критиков, реализовав новую программу масштабных государственных инвестиций в промышленность для создания новых мощных национальных компаний. Но удовлетворит ли это критиков? Осуществятся ли их мечтания? Нет, вряд ли. Ничто не в состоянии это сделать. В действительности их мало заботит состояние экономики. Их девиз: «Дело не в экономике, глупый! Ведь наше дело — нещадно критиковать Путина».

Полную версию исследования Вы можете прочитать в PDF (нажмите здесь)

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Awara Group study shows Russia’s economy resilient in the backdrop of sanctions

Author: Jon Hellevig December 13, 2014

You can read the full report in PDF here.

Awara Group releases study on Russian economy: Putin 2000 – 2014, Midterm Interim Results: Diversification, Modernization and the Role of the State in Russia's Economy - A Wittgensteinian Look at the Russian Economy.

A study released today by Awara Group, a Russia-based consulting firm, shows that Russia's economy is not as dependent on oil and gas as is commonly claimed. Having researched the development of key indicators of the economy from 2000 to 2013. The crisis-torn economy battered by years of robber capitalism and anarchy of the 1990's, which Putin inherited in 2000, has now reached sufficient maturity to justify a belief that Russia can make the industrial breakthrough that the President has announced.

The study reveals a range of impressive indicators on the development of the economy between 2000 and 2013 and the health of the Russian economy:

  • The share of natural resources rents in GDP (oil, gas, coal, mineral, and forest rents) more than halved between 2000 to 2012 from 44.5% to 18.7%. The actual share of oil and gas was 16%.
  • Russian industrial production has grown more than 50% while having undergone a total modernization at the same time.
  • Production of food has grown by 100% in 2000 – 2013.
  • Production of cars has more than doubled at the same time that all the production has been totally remodeled.
  • Russian exports have grown by almost 400%, outdoing all major Western countries.
  • Growth of exports of non-oil & gas goods has been 250%.
  • Russia's export growth has more than doubled compared with the competing Western powers.
  • Oil & gas does not count for over 50% of state revenues as has been claimed, but only 27.4%. Top revenue source is instead payroll taxes.
  • Russia's total tax rate at 29.5% is among lowest of developed countries, non-oil & gas total tax rate is half that of the Western countries.
  • Russia's GDP has grown more than tenfold from 1999 to 2012.
  • Public sector share of employment in Russia is not high in comparison with developed economies. State officials make up 17.7% of Russia's total work force, which situates it in the middle of the pack with global economies.
  • Russia's labor productivity is not 40% of the Western standards as is frequently claimed, but rather about 80%.

Far from "relying" on oil & gas, the Russian government is engaged in massive investments in all sectors of the economy, biggest investments going to aviation, shipbuilding, and manufacturing of high-value machinery and technological equipment.

We strongly believe that everyone benefits from knowing the true state of Russia's economy, its real track record over the past decade, and its true potential. Having knowledge of the actual state of affairs is equally useful for the friends and foes of Russia, for investors, for the Russian population – and indeed for its government, which has not been very vocal in telling about the real progress. I think there is a great need for accurate data on Russia, especially among the leaders of its geopolitical foes. Correct data will help investors to make a profit.

For more information:
Jon Hellevig
info@awaragroup.com
+7-495-2253038

You can read the full report in PDF here.

A Wittgensteinian look at the Russian economy

SUMMARY OF FACTS ON RUSSIA'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 2000 – 2013

"The results of philosophy are the uncovering of one or another piece of plain nonsense and bumps that the understanding has got by running its head against the limits of language."
Wittgenstein

1. The share of natural resources rents in GDP (oil, gas, coal, mineral, and forest rents) more than halved between 2000 to 2012 from 44,5% to 18.7%. The actual share of oil and gas was 16%.

READ MORE on page 25 in the PDF version.

2. Russian industrial production has grown more than 50% while being totally modernized at the same time

READ MORE on page 18 in the PDF version.

3. Production of food has grown by 100%.

READ MORE on page 23 in the PDF version.

4. Production of cars has more than doubled at the same time when all the production has been totally remodeled.

READ MORE on page 21 in the PDF version.

5. Russian exports have grown fivefold.

READ MORE on page 11 in the PDF version.

6. Growth of exports of non‐oil & gas goods has been 250%.

READ MORE on page 11 in the PDF version.

7. Russia's export growth has been more than doubled compared with the competing Western powers.

READ MORE on page 12 in the PDF version.

8. Oil & gas does not count for over 50% of state revenues as it has been claimed, but only 27.4%. Top revenue bringer is instead payroll taxes.

READ MORE on page 37 in the PDF version.

9. Russia's total tax rate at 29.5% is among lowest of developed countries, non-oil & gas total tax rate is half that of the Western countries.

READ MORE on page 25 in the PDF version.

10. Public sector employment in Russia is not high in a global comparison.

READ MORE on page 28 in the PDF version.

11. Russia's GDP has grown more than tenfold from 1999 to 2012.

READ MORE on page 36 in the PDF version.

12. Russia's labor productivity is not 40% of the Western standards as it is frequently claimed, but rather on the level of 80%.
READ MORE on page 42 in the PDF version.

13. Far from "relying" on oil & gas, the Russian government is engaged in massive investments in all sectors of the economy, biggest investments going to aviation, shipbuilding, manufacturing of high‐value machinery and technological equipment.
READ MORE on page 53 in the PDF version.

INTRODUCTION

Why is the coverage of the Russian economy so skewed and misguided?

This study takes aim at disapproving the continuously repeated claims that Russia has supposedly not diversified and modernized its economy. Our report shows that it is especially false to claim that the Russian government has not done anything in this vein, that it would be "relying" on oil & gas rents and lacks an understanding that more must be done. Quite the opposite, the Russian state under Putin's leadership has devoted all its spare resources to address this problem; the early results are impressive and a lot of effort and strategic initiatives are currently being implemented.

We are not implying that Russia's economy is in anyway in an ideal state - it clearly is not (then again, there is the question, the economy of which country would you characterize as ideal?). What we want to say is that the Russian economy has reached an initial maturity, which provides a solid platform for taking the next leap to further industrialization and development of a strong manufacturing industry utilizing the highest levels of technology. This is why we are confident that Russia will be able to make the "true industrial breakthrough" that President Putin recently announced.

Putin envisions the creating of strong national champions in machinery and processing industries that will become major exporters of manufactured goods that are competitive on the global markets. Putin promises that this will also entail renewed investment in applied science and R&D in the fields of machine building and machine tool and instrument production.

We strongly believe that everyone benefits from knowing the true state of Russia's economy, its real track record over the past decade, and its true potential. Having knowledge of the actual state of affairs is equally useful for the friends and foes of Russia, for investors, for the Russian population – and indeed for its government, which has not been very vocal in telling about the real progress. I think there is a great need for accurate data on Russia, especially among the leaders of its geopolitical foes. Correct data will help investors to make a profit. And correct data will help political leaders to maintain peace. Knowing that Russia is not the economic basket case that it is portrayed to be would help to stave off the foes from the collision course with Russia they have embarked on.

In this report, we offer facts that should convince any reader who is interested in the truth that Russia has during the past decade achieved impressive results in lifting, restructuring, diversifying and modernizing the economy. In view of this data, it is easy to believe that an industrial breakthrough will happen during the next 10 years.

We are constantly being told that Russia supposedly "relies" on oil & gas rents

It is continuously argued that during the Putin era, from 2000 to the present, Russia has done nothing to diversify and modernize its economy, which supposedly only relies on oil & gas rents. This contention is ceaselessly repeated in economic analyses to the extent that it resembles propaganda more than analysis, as is the case, for example, with this article in The Telegraph. These kinds of ridiculous claims figure high in any Western business or political commentary on Russia. Such reporting passes for economic analysis for example in the writings of the tireless Putin critic Anders Aslund. Lately the narrative has been taken up even by leaders of rival countries. For example, Barack Obama, the president of the United States of America, who in view of the country's vast intelligence and analytical resources should be best informed about major trends in the world, permits himself to blurt that "Russia doesn't make anything. Immigrants aren't rushing to Moscow in search of opportunity. The population is shrinking," Obama is wrong on each count. We will here delve into the first, the question of Russia's industrial production and economic diversification. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also thinks she knows that "Russia has not diversified its economy. It is still largely dependent upon natural resources, principally gas and oil." Lesser leaders around the Western hemisphere are parroting these same lines. Even Alexander Stubb, the prime minister of Finland, Russia's tiny neighbor, has got it in his head to spread these allegations about the supposed dismal and hopeless state of Russia's economy.

We should wonder where they get these ideas.

Regaining lost Time

The most frustrating thing about the constant unfair criticism about Russia's economy – indeed of all its social and political practices – is the total ignorance about the time factor. There is no attempt to relate the state of Russia's economy and its progress to the time it has had to develop. In our opinion, the proper starting point from which we should count is the early 2000's and perhaps even as late as 2004. By this we mean the point of time when Russia first reached the minimum political and social stability which enabled the successive governments under Putin's leadership to start thinking about such mundane things as economic strategy and industrialization. Prior to that, since Putin took over the presidency in 2000, it had been a question of basic survival and establishing the elementary structures and reach of government throughout the entire country. The first few years of Putin's presidency can be characterized as having nurtured Russia in emergency care, reeling from the knock-out effects of the destruction of the Soviet economy, which had severely declined in the late 1980's and the ensuing anarchy and robber capitalism of the 1990's. As soon as the first opportunities emerged to work on positive development, Putin seized them. And after that, Putin has achieved phenomenal results in developing the economy and society at large.

Ignoring the time factor and the chaos at the starting point, the self-styled Russia experts seem to want to compare Russia with the major Western countries that have developed in a market economy for hundreds of years. But even that is not enough; they don't only ignore the time factor, they also skew the comparative figures for Russia. We will show how.

MAIN FINDINGS IN SUMMARY

Wittgenstein: "What we are destroying is nothing but houses of cards and we are clearing up the ground of language on which they stood."

1. You cannot intelligently limit the story about Russia's economy – as the misguided analysts do – to the question about the share of oil & gas in exports without looking at all the other aspects of it. After all, the oil & gas industry does in no way squeeze resources from the rest of the economy. On the contrary, it takes up only 3% of the workforce and subsidizes the rest of the economy with the export revenues and high taxes. Contrary to what we are told, there is no risk whatsoever of the "Dutch disease" here.

2. According to World Bank data the share of natural resources rents in GDP (the sum of oil rents, natural gas rents, coal rents, mineral rents, and forest rents) more than halved between 2000 to 2012 from 44.5% to 18.7%. The actual share of oil and gas (net of other natural resources rents) was 16%.

3. The thesis that Russia's economy is a failure rests almost entirely on one single contention, the thesis – repeated ad nauseum - that "70% of Russia's exports are made up of oil & gas". This export figure is in itself true, but is by no means the end of the story. In this connection, the critics want to totally ignore the discussion of the impressive development of the domestic industry, the whole economy and the social structures. Exports are far from the only measure of how diversified an economy is. In any historic development of a national economy the process of satisfying domestic needs naturally comes first. This is what the misguided "Russia experts" fail to understand. They don't want to see that Russia has in 10 years totally modernizing its economy and industry and filled the vacuum in supply after the fall of the Soviet Union. . It is only natural that in the first 10 years of economic restructuring you first supply the home market and move on to export markets only after you have satiated domestic demand. In these 10 years, Russia has indeed filled the vacuum on the domestic market with an impressive rise of 50% in industrial production.

Because companies as economic actors do not strive to satisfy the whims of economic analysts but to make a profit, companies on the Russian market have during the reindustrialization of the country first supplied the home market. Very few enterprises could possibly afford to employ such a fool as a CEO who would refuse to sell on the domestic market and instead start with exports only to satisfy the demand to "diversify Russia's economy", as required by the Western and quasi-liberal analysts. No, corporations don't work for these analysts; they work with a profit motive for their shareholders, selling where they can make the best profit.

4. But even that is not the end of the story. If the analyst would examine the figures beneath the surface veil of "oil & gas making up 70%...", then he'd realize the that total exports have risen fivefold over 2000 to 2013 from $103 billion to $526 billion, and therefore exports of non-oil & gas products also grew by a whopping 250%. If this is not enough for 12 years, then what were they possibly expecting? A doubling every two years! More details on page 11 in the PDF version.

5. Besides this, the critics fail to notice that within exports of oil & gas proper there is an interesting diversification trend in that Russia has made a remarkable switch from exports of crude oil to exports of value-added refined products. Exports of refined oil products increased by 900% from $10.9 billion to $109 billion. The share of value-added oil products has risen relative to crude oil in total oil exports from 30.6% to 38.6%. More details on page 11 in the PDF version.

6. While the accusation is constantly being made that Russia has failed to develop strong exports of manufactured goods, it is ignored that very few countries in the world have been able to develop such exports. I invite the reader to list 10 countries, in addition to China, that have been able to do it during the last 20 years. The same countries that dominated such exports continue to do it, albeit with falling volumes (except for Germany). Commodities prevail, as with Russia, in exports of two of the G7 countries, Australia and Canada. More details on page 12 in the PDF version.

7. Russia's food production doubled from 2000 to 2013, at the same time that exports of food skyrocketed from almost nil to $16 billion.

8. We don't discuss in this report the growth of retail, but want to point out what all real experts should know - that the Russian retail sector over these years has undergone a total restructuring and modernization. Serious domestic and foreign retail chains have entered the market. Gone are the once ubiquitous shadow economy outdoor markets and rag fairs, having been replaced by modern malls, retail space and logistics centers. Naturally, retail had to come before production, and production before exports.

9. We are also puzzled as to the meaning of the claim that "Russia has not diversified its economy". Perhaps this is just another nonsensical statement that does not mean anything.

One must understand that Russia is a market economy, and therefore the whole criticism that Russia has not diversified is wrong. For in this connection there is no "Russia", there are only a multitude of corporations that make their own business decisions. And for all we know they have made the right decisions in investing in Russia and satisfying the domestic market.

By "Russia" then they can mean only the government. And here the question would be, whether the government (read, Putin) has not done enough to create the conditions for economic development, diversification and modernization. Our report provides the resounding answer that indeed he has. It would not be reasonable to expect any more impressive results for the first 14 years of this work.

In addition to providing the conditions for enterprises to thrive, the state may also take a more active role in the economy. Have the Russian governments under Putin not done so? Yes, they have. It has been done by targeted, successfully implemented, strategic programs for developing various sectors of the economy and industry.

Finally there is the question of direct state ownership in enterprises and investments in industry. Have the governments under Putin not done enough in this respect? No! – But wait a minute, isn't that what the critics want? "No government investment in industry" is their war cry. These critics want to have their cake and eat it, too. No diversification of the economy has happened, they falsely shout. But at the same time they scorn all of Putin's initiatives to invest in industry. Well, fortunately their looney criticism is increasingly falling on deaf ears as Russia has established a solid platform for the future - moving on to the next stage of development of the economy with Putin's program to effect an industrial breakthrough. More details on page 49 in the PDF version.

10. Public sector. It is argued that the public sector of Russia is disproportionate. We will show that this argument as well is false and baseless. Russia's public sector is among the lowest among developed economies when measured on three key indicators.

While Russia's total tax rate was 29.5%, the countries with developed Eurosocialism, like Finland, Sweden and France, had a total tax rate at the level of 45%. This means that the Russian government imposes significantly less taxes on its citizen and corporations than the Western countries.

The size of the public sector may also be measured in terms of government spending as a percentage of GDP. On this figure, Russia also ranks significantly lower than most of the Western countries, being about 2/5 lower than the Northern European countries.

Public sector share of employment in Russia is not high in a comparison with developed economies. State officials make up 17.7% of Russia's total work force, which situates it in the middle of the comparison with global economies.
More details on page 28 in the PDF version.

11. Oil & gas revenue does not make up 50% of Russia's budget revenue as is commonly claimed, but only 27.4%. It is not even the biggest source of state revenue, which position is held by payroll taxes at 28.8%. More details on page 37 in the PDF version.

But, notwithstanding that the share of oil & gas taxes is not as big as is commonly claimed, the oil & gas industry is heavily taxed. And this is not detrimental to the economy, as critics want us to think. Quite the contrary, the rather severe taxation of the oil & gas industry in fact means that it subsidizes the rest of the economy, which enjoys some of the lowest taxes of all developed nations. Russia's total tax rate net of oil & gas taxes is only 24.1% (2012).

12. Foreign direct investments. Critics constantly argue that Russia has not been successful in attracting foreign direct investments in its economy. This claim is also wrong, just like most of their supposed analysis. In fact, Russia has during the last three years attracted the third largest foreign direct investment flows of all countries in the world, right after the USA and China. When measuring the inflow of FDI as a percentage of a respective country's GDP, then Russia, followed by Poland, turns out to be the absolute leader for the years 2011 to 2013.

Following the tax reforms and other major reforms of Russian society by Putin, such as strengthening the judiciary system and rule-of-law and public administration, the Russian gross domestic product (GDP) in dollar terms has increased tenfold since Vladimir Putin first took office in 2000. At end of 1999, the Russian nominal GDP was in US dollar terms 196 billion. By the end of 2012 the nominal GDP had risen to $2,015 billion. This represents a growth of more than 1000% in 12 years. More details on page 36 in the PDF version.

13. Russia's labor productivity is not at the level of 40% compared with developed economies, as critics claim. Rather, the whole method by which the measurement of labor productivity is supposedly derived using the GDP figures is wrong at best, and most probably outright nonsensical. The same applies to the method of comparing cross global labor productivity of companies by comparing sales revenue to workforce. More details on page 42 in the PDF version.

14. Critics habitually deny Putin any credit in the remarkable growth of the Russian economy since he took charge of the country. All is supposedly merely due to windfall revenues following sharp rises in the price of crude oil on world markets coinciding with his tenure. But, these same critics also hold against Putin the act of jailing the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. And yet, it was precisely the fact that Putin reined in the robber oligarchs and Khodorkovsky in particular that made all the difference. Only then was Putin able to pass legislation that ensured that Russia's vast oil assets were taxed for the benefit of the national economy and its people. More details on page 49 in the PDF version.

"It is not a matter of discovering new facts, but of finding a way of expressing what we have known all along." Wittgenstein's method


Russian retail in 1990s…


…and same in 2009

COMMENTARY

Indeed, we are profoundly bewildered as to the unprofessionalism of the economic analysts and political pundits who pronounce on the Russian economy. How is it possible that they constantly miss the essentials? Not only do they fail in the analysis of the fundamental trends of the economy, but frequently they even get the facts totally wrong. In our great perplexity in this regard, we have been trying to let ourselves be guided by the old adage: Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence. – But don't rule out malice, for to that extent is the analysis intellectually feeble.

The economic and political observers who speak disparagingly about the Russian economy often claim that Russia (read Putin) "relies" exclusively on oil & gas revenues. As one analyst writes: "As much of the rest of the world struggles to cope with the fragmentation of manufacturing value chains and strives to move up the value-added ladder, Russia continues to rely on a largely commodity-based growth model". The gist of that argument is that President Putin is a reckless leader who does not understand or care about economic realities and future prospects, being dominated by short-sighted illusions that oil & gas rents would carry Russia from here to eternity. They portray Putin as a happy-go-lucky kind of a chap who spends oil & gas revenues without caring for developing the overall economy. Not surprisingly, our analysis shows that that is a lot of bilge as well. Totally contrary to the idea that Russia was wallowing in an oil & gas binge, it has in fact been using the oil & gas revenues to subsidize the development of all the other sectors of the economy.

Another example of the "Russia relies on oil & gas" argument is provided by Dmitry Trenin from Carnegie Moscow Center. Trenin writes that Russia "lacks real economic strength" (we wonder what the definition is, in view of the data presented in this report) and rhetorically states: "unless it deals with this massive deficiency," Russia will be doomed. The implication is that Putin has not realized that the economy must be strengthened; nothing has been supposedly done and nothing achieved. Trenin says that, "Russia should work to…" – but he has not noticed any work, even though it is his job to monitor these issues – "…advance in qualitative terms: labor productivity; science and technology power; and the general quality of life of its people." And in the absence of that, Russia will "slide even deeper." We can well understand that Trenin may miss the points on science and technology when the approach seems to be so superficial (probably relying on the Economist and other such sources), but the failure by Dmitry Trenin as a Russian living in Russia to detect any improvement in "the general quality of life" of the Russian people we must unfortunately attribute to the malice factor.

The charge that "Russia has not diversified" is also peculiar, not only because it is false, but also because the people that make the charge are usually either Western adherents of the free market theory or Russian domestic quasi-liberals. One may ask, who is this "Russia" that in their view has failed in this activity? They seem to be referring to the state and in particular Putin and his governments. But if so, then they are being very illogical according to their own ideology. We mean that they are the ones that claim that the state should stay out of the economy and not interfere in it. This being the case, how do they then think that the state has failed in the diversification? What should the state have done? Invest more in businesses? But wasn't that precisely what they oppose? It becomes evident from this report that the state has done a lot for diversification in all aspects: providing a favorable tax regime, improving the business climate, supporting companies and entire sectors of the economy to diversify, modernizing the economy. And quite recently Putin has announced that he will make these wishes of the critics come true with renewed heavy state investments in industry to create new strong national champions. But will that satisfy the critics, when their dream comes true? No, it won't, because nothing will. They are in fact preciously little concerned about the economy. Their motto is: "It's not the economy, stupid! Our business is Putin-bashing."

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About the Sochi Bacchanalia in the Western Press

Author: Jon Hellevig February 3, 2014
 

The author Jon Hellevig is the Managing Partner of Awara Group Llc and observer of Russian economy and social development

The Western press is once again brimming with a fresh wave of anti-Sochi slander. This round is dedicated to the supposed skyrocketing costs of organizing the Olympic Games, or the "bacchanalia of waste and corruption" as Steven Lee Myers of the New York Times so poetically expresses it 1. Fresh ammunition was provided by a new propaganda report concocted by the anti-Putin darling of the Western press, Alexey Navalny 2. Navalny is one of 10 to 20 Russian figures who, depending on the interviewer, is being called the "leader of the Russian opposition." Navalny's report is actually nothing less than a rehash of a report that Boris Nemtsov, another of the 10 or so "opposition leaders" (a lot of opposition around here), already published a half a year ago 3. Navalny is adept at finding plagiarism in other people's work, so let's see if Nemtsov will accuse Navalny of using his words and ideas without giving credit.

Myers from the NYT accepts the Navalny/Nemtsov claim that the cost of organizing the event amounts to 48 billion USD (Nemtsov's figure was 51 billion). However, Myers fails to make a distinction between the costs of organizing of the event and the concomitant heavy investment in Sochi's infrastructure. Nevertheless, Myers correctly relates that "President Vladimir V. Putin stoked the debate when he recently told a group of television anchors that Russia had spent only 214 billion rubles, or roughly $7 billion, to erect the sporting venues for the games. And less than half of that, he maintained, was government spending." Myers was right in quoting Putin that was the price for 'erecting sporting venues' (add to that also other running costs for hosting the guests etc.), but he then goes on to confuse investments in the urban infrastructure of Sochi with costs for "erecting sporting venues."

Putin in Sotchi

The cost of organizing the games indeed equals roughly 7 billion dollars, which is about the same amount that Vancouver spent on the previous winter Olympics. But at the same time, the Russian government, state companies and private investors have made gigantic investments in the permanent infrastructure, adding up to about 40-45 billion dollars to the bill. It is, of course, a deliberate tactic on the part of the "opposition leaders" and an unrestrained press, who disseminate propaganda that misleads the public into thinking these infrastructure investments form part of the "organizing costs". These concoctions create the impression that "Sochi has turned into an unaffordable personal vanity project, intended to cement Mr. Putin's legacy," as Mr. Myers puts it. The New York Times journalist persists with this lie, although his preceding discussion demonstrates that he has in fact understood the difference.

The Olympics could well have gone ahead without any additional investment in infrastructure, but the Putin government wanted to seize this Olympic opportunity to motivate all the players in the project to develop and put Sochi firmly on the map as a first class resort of international importance.

Being a regular visitor to Sochi, I am extremely impressed with the results. With 40 billion dollars, Sochi has been transformed into a modern holiday resort, which transcends the seasons and is uniquely both a winter and a summer resort. When the games are over and the snow has melted, the infrastructure will still be there. With these funds they have built, among other things, 30 new hotels and renovated 35 old ones, endowing the city with 12,000 new international-level hotel rooms. This is a significant number, and for the sake of comparison, look at Finland's capital, Helsinki, which has built 50 hotels with 8,000 rooms during its entire history so far. That is to say, Sochi has built 1.5 times more hotel rooms in just two years than one of Europe's capitals managed in 200 years.

In addition to international level hotels, Sochi already had a stock of 450 other hotels with some 40,000 rooms. The Russian daily, Vedomosti, ridicules the fact that there now are more hotel rooms in Sochi than in the whole of Moscow. This is true, but the reporter is no hotel industry expert even though he rather boastfully shares his low opinions about it. He fails to grasp that there are hotels and hotels; there are hotels conforming to international standards (3, 4 and 5 stars) and hotels that do not live up to these requirements. In Moscow, there are approximately 30,000 international-level hotel rooms, which is about three times more than in Sochi, even after the construction of new hotels. And Moscow is not a beach resort where tourists stay in hotels for weeks on end. Sochi is visited by approximately 3.2 million tourists annually, who on average stay six to eight nights per visit, which amounts to about 20 million nights per year. This can be compared to the figure of 3.5 million in Helsinki. So, the number of hotel rooms in Sochi does not seem exaggerated in relation to the number of visitors. Furthermore, it should be understood that Sochi's 3.2 million tourists mostly come from families of below average income level (the so-called "lower middle class"). The reason for this, notwithstanding its wonderful climate, superb natural landscapes and parks, is that previously there were no high-quality hotels in Sochi. (Earlier the only hotel conforming to international standards was a Radisson establishment with 200 rooms.). Therefore it has not been a destination of choice for the more affluent Russians, who, instead, travelled to Turkey, Spain, Cyprus and other European and overseas destinations. Now this state of affairs has been corrected, and Sochi will be able to attract tourists who are used to higher quality standards, and are prepared to pay more. These new hotels will be run by the world's premium hotel chains, such as Marriot, Accor and Swisshotels. Most people would surely agree that these businesses haven't set up shop in Sochi just to yield to Putin's commands. Following these investments, the total number of tourists is projected to increase by one to two million in the next few years, which will also bring significant additional income to the city. At the same time, private money has been used to build an enormous number of holiday apartment buildings, well situated throughout Sochi's areas of abundant natural beauty. The number of tourists visiting Anapa, a resort located on the same Black Sea coast just a few hundred kilometers away, rose from 2.6 million in 2010 to 4 million in 2012. No doubt, there will be significant demand for Sochi's new hotels.

Sotchi

If it were not for the concerted propaganda campaign against Russia and Putin, this huge investment in real estate and infrastructure would be admired the same way people applaud gigantic projects in for example China and places like Dubai. What is more, the Western press and economists are constantly deriding Putin and Russia for supposedly not diversifying the economy; they say it's all about oil and gas. Now, displaying a truly volte-face, they critize Russia's major investment in its tourism industry.

To enhance real estate developments, serious investments have also been made in Sochi's urban infrastructure. The Krasnaya Polyana ski resort in the mountains has been connected to the coastal town of Sochi by a new 50-km combined motorway and railway line running through the mountains, including 12 tunnels (29 km in total), 45 bridges and 4 train stations. According to Boris Nemtsov, this has cost 9.4 billion dollars. Nemtsov "knows" (cause he claims he knows everything) that the actual price would have been 6.1 billion dollars, putting the difference at some 30 percent. Those who don't follow Russian politics need to be reminded that Nemtsov has dedicated his life to invective against Putin, and that he does all he can to defame the president, this fabricated report on Sochi's expenses being just one of his defamatory strikes. Also it's worth remembering that Nemtsov served as First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian government in 1998 when the Russian state went bankrupt and defaulted on its debts. So this fellow does not exactly inspire confidence as an economic expert, does he? Still, even Nemtsov, despite all his spleen, has not been able to come up with a greater difference than 30 percent between the "actual cost" and "Putin's cost." I would not be a bit surprised if the Swiss, to whom Nemtsov assigns his benchmark figure, would be able to build these kinds of mountain roads a great deal more cost-effectively than the Russians, whose experience is limited in these kinds of projects.

Sotchi

Navalny tops Nemtsov's bid. He retains Nemtsov's figure of the construction cost, about 9 billion dollars, but Navalny has lowered the benchmark cost. According to Navalny, the "real cost" should have been about 4.7 billion dollars. Navalny boasts that his benchmarking method is far superior to Nemtsov's. He says that he did not just compare the cost with one existing road (as the nincompoop Nemtsov did); instead, he says he divided the road into parts and compared the cost of each part separately to yield his total benchmark cost. It turns out Navalny is not only a gifted lawyer, blogger, activist and opposition leader, but he is also an efficient and able engineering consultant and auditor, who was able to come up with such an analysis in just a week with his team of volunteers.

What else has been built? Let's enumerate: a new elevated road passing through the whole city of Sochi; an extension of the Sochi ring road; several multi-level junctions; a seaport, an airport, several railway stations, among them the Adler station which is one of the biggest in Russia (not known for its miniscule rail stations); pedestrian promenades; barrier-free accessibility to public and commercial buildings for disabled persons, making Sochi the first barrier-free city in Russia; a sewage system (before that most of the crap apparently circulated freely); an electric power plant and distribution network; renovation of a huge amount of residential houses and areas, etcetera and etcetera. All the above will, of course, remain in Sochi after the Olympics. They won't be dismantled and tucked away after the Games as the brothers-in-arm, Nemtsov and Navalny, and their cheerleaders in the Western press claim. They will be there for the some 5 million visitors and the population of Sochi itself, which is about 400,000 and approaching half a million.

Amid insinuations of corruption, whistleblowers Nemtsov & Navalny are earnestly seeking to claim that all these new buildings and facilities will only serve the 2-week duration of the Olympics. Navalny has even included investments in the adjacent Formula 1 racing track, a new theme park, and even a church in his costs "for organizing the Olympics". I am puzzled by the constant claims about the supposed corruption related to Sochi, which Myers so dutifully reminds us about. I assume that there is corruption in a majority of the world's infrastructure projects, but Myers's conclusion that it is somehow on a greater scale in Sochi is somewhat mystifying, until you understand the sources for his ideas: oh, yes, Nemtsov and Navalny! But even if it were true, why should Myers and the Western media be so troubled with it? It is not taken out of their pocket, for heaven's sake! At the same time, the Navalny and Nemtsov double act are at pains to remind us that many of Russia's oligarchs have made some bad investments in Sochi. Alright, let's suppose that Putin has "advised" them to invest in Sochi: would that also harm Myers, or the Russian taxpayers? On the contrary, it could only be considered a tax, a tax to compensate for the wealth these oligarchs laid their hands on so cheaply in connection with privatization measures orchestrated by Nemtsov and his buddies. At the end of the day, all the infrastructure is now in place for all us to enjoy for some time to come, including Mr. Myers from the New York Times.


1 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/world/europe/russians-debate-sticker-price-of-sochi-games.html?hpw&rref=sports&_r=0

2http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/russian-campaigner-publishes-sochi-corruption-file-22161544 3http://www.interpretermag.com/winter-olympics-in-the-sub-tropics-corruption-and-abuse-in-sochi/

 

The Intelligentsia, the new iClass and the Psychology of Russian Protests

Author: Jon Hellevig April 2, 2012
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If we want to understand the reasons behind the Russian protests in the run up to the presidential elections in 2012, then we need to distinguish between the organizers of the protests and the mass of the demonstrators that showed up on the most populous rallies gathering a crowd of some 40 to 50 thousands.

The organizers consist of a wide array of political groupings ranging from rightist liberals to racist nationals and communist anarchists. These people are naturally not unified in any kind of a political program and merely form a Coalition of the Willing driven by the farfetched idea to overthrow Putin and his party by means of street protests and anarchy using the methods of color revolutions. But these people are lagging behind the people they claim to represent for the Russian electorate has matured enough to analyze politics and social questions with their own brains and make their decisions after weighing the pros and cons of complex matters. In another article, The Disparate Russian Opposition, I wrote about the protest organizers, the “opposition,” and the political map of Russia. Here I want to dwell a bit on the participants that followed the call in masses of 40 to 50 thousand people at the most populous rallies.

The bulk of the hardcore protesters close to the organizers, some 5 to 10 thousand people, consisted of such strange bedfellows as the so-called liberal intelligentsia and the racist nationalists. But at the last major attempt to a massive protest on March 10 on Moscow’s Novy Arbat, the nationalists made a show of splitting off with the liberals demonstratively leaving the scene and promising not to join forces with the liberals any further.

With the nationalist leaving some 5 thousand people were left, consisting mainly of the liberal intelligentsia, who get their news from Echo Moscow radio station, the internet journal gazeta.vru (that is not a printing error, vru is Russian for lying), and Radio Liberty. These people are the successors of the Soviet cultural elite who proclaimed themselves “Intelligentsia” in praise of their supposed superior intelligence compared to that of the “mob,” as they think of their fellow citizens. The spiritual roots of this “Intelligentsia” date back to the 19th and 20th century pre-revolutionary Russia. It has been opposing and conspiring against the powers ever since the Decembrist revolt in 1825. It was the “Intelligentsia” who brought about the revolution of 1917, the movement, after the chaos they sowed, having been hijacked by Lenin and the Bolsheviks resulting in the not-so-liberal Soviet Union. It is also the liberal intelligentsia that in turn worked to bring down the same Soviet Union. And now they are at it again.

It is interesting to note that the more these people think of themselves as superior in intellect the thirstier they get for bloody revolutions and chaos as a means of self-affirmation. Recently it has been highlighted how the turn of the 19th and 20th century writers Ivan Bunin and Fyodor Dostoevsky already identified the destructive and negative character of this self-proclaimed “Intelligentsia” in terms that are completely applicable to their modern day successors.

In Cursed Days (based on his diaries of 1918-1920), Bunin wrote about the revolutionary intelligentsia: "It is terrible to say, but true: were it not for the human disasters, thousands of intellectuals would have felt themselves very miserable. What reason then would there have been to gather, to protest, what to scream for and write about?” This is what gave grounds to the idealism of the Intelligentsia, Bunin concluded: “in essence an idealism of a very lordly nature, an eternal opposition, criticism, of everything and everyone. For after all criticizing is so much easier to do than actually creating something by your own work." And “the most distinctive features of the revolution,” Bunin noted was “a mad lust for the game, play-acting, posture, farce. It brought out the animal in humans."

Fyodor Dostoevsky in turn wondered in his diaries over the nature of the Russian liberals saying: "why is our European leaning liberal so often the enemy of the Russian people? Why then do the people that in the very Europe call themselves democrats always side with the people, or at least rely on their support, while our democrat is often an aristocrat who at the end of the day almost always serves the interests that suppress the popular force and end in domineering of the people by the superior ones.”

The film director and Putin’s campaign manager Stanislav Govorukhin recently also quite aptly quipped the dark essence of the Intelligentsia.

Depending from what point of view to look at it, I find the concept “Intelligentsia” ridiculous and repulsive. It is ridiculous that certain people from the arts, culture, media and the leisured classes in general refer to themselves as “Intelligentsia” with the connotation that they consider themselves “the intellectual elite of the society,” with the further connotation that they regard themselves more intelligent than others. But the average journalist, detective fiction writer, painter, and rock musician is certainly not any better endowed than his fellow citizen to judge and pronounce on matters of social life and democracy. And it is outright repulsive when the people of this self-proclaimed “Intelligentsia” move on to really regard themselves as an “elite” whose opinions are supposed to count more than those of the vast majority of people whom they despise.

Naturally it is only to be recommended that artists, other cultural workers, philosophers and such people participate in political activity, as long as they understand that they do not form any special class of “Intelligentsia.” In fact, only normal people free from such kind of vanity can properly and intelligently judge life around us.

Picture: Ilya Repin’s 17 October, 1905. -Members of the liberal intelligentsia rabidly demanding a revolution in Russia already in 1905. Note how interestingly Repin has captured the spirit of these revolutionaries in their bizarre facial expressions.

It was neither the nationalists nor the liberal intelligentsia that made up the bulk of the protesters but, as I affirm, basically apolitical affluent urban dwellers. Most political pundits refer to them as the “Middle Class.” But this is wrongheaded and based on a total miscomprehension of the concept Middle Class, a miscomprehension unfortunately shared by people of all political preferences. The mistake is to define Middle Class exclusively through the prism of people’s purchasing power (affluence) while it should be recognized that more fundamentally it is to be defined through social, cultural and historic factors. I doubt that the concept has much utility for describing social relations in virtually classless European democracies of the 21st century, like Russia. The concept developed in another age for societies that were literally organized according to adherence to classes. There were the classes of feudal landlords, clergy, bourgeois and peasants. Middle Class emerged to denote the salaried and educated urban people that could not be assigned to any of the aforementioned classes. But today all the other classes are gone (at least what comes to number and political influence), and instead the designation of Middle Class fits most all people. Nowadays the differences between people derive to a very small degree from the historic roots of a class society (especially in Russia which is the successor to the USSR where classes were eradicated, whether we are happy or not with the fact and how it happened) and are more based on personal fortunes and misfortunes, health and interests. With universal schooling and a radical change in living conditions in the rural areas and those of factory workers, I am very skeptical of the idea to exclude even those people from the denomination. Considering the ethnic and regional diversity of Russia, I may accede to the idea that not all people of Russia would qualify for being included in Middle Class, but at least 60 to 70% should be counted in (although I then still have a problem with determining who is to be counted out).

No better is the neologism “creative class” by which some political observers refer to the protesters. I wonder what these people are supposed to ever have created. The adventures of detective Fandorin, or what? For sure they did not create the iPhones and iPads with which to access their Facebooks and Twitters.

People who have their thinking rooted in concepts instead of observed reality insist that in Russia only some 20%, or maximum 30%, constitute the Middle Class (interesting then, to which class do the rest belong?). They arrive at this conclusion by analyzing the figures of economic purchasing power and pronounce that only those people that can afford a second car, so and so many trips abroad, and a “euroremont” of their flats qualify. But if these are the criteria, then I definitely insist that we rather define these people by their iPhones and iPads. In fact, just for this propensity to use the latest gadgets and the mass hysteria social media, I prefer to refer to the bulk of the protesters as the iClass. (I owe this concept to a Russian friend of mine who first called these people the “iPhonchiki”). - Curiously enough a market survey (www.smartmarketing.ru) conducted at the site of protests on Bolotnaya Square revealed that the iPhones and iPads of Apple were predominant among the demonstrators, the iPhone being held by 49% of smartphone users while it only represents some 6% of the total Russian market of smartphones.

What motivates the iClass does not lend itself to a political analysis rather it is a question of social psychology and an analysis of the phenomena of mass hysteria. Many of the protesters are what we used to call young urban professionals, yuppies. Their grouch with Russia is that it is not like the West: the climate is not right, the beaches are far off, traffic is unbearable, service is poor, and the bureaucrats rude. Well-to-do and mobile they travel a lot. In the West all is better, they are convinced. They have been there. “Nothing to complain about the living conditions and quality of government,” they think after the experience of staying at elite hotels in the glimmering capitals of the world and the jet-set resorts. And what can beat tax-free shopping in London and Milan!

Back in Russia to stuff their pockets, they don’t realize that the 13% tax they pay on their income is only a fraction of what the Western governments grab from their citizens. (Funny enough, in the recent World Bank study on the competitiveness of Russian economy, they cite, approvingly, a study according to which Russians consider this lowest income tax in the world excessive). In Russia they are free to do with their money what they want. A liberal haven. But they don’t get it.

The iClass has a good command of English, so they have access to the constant Western propaganda directed against Russia in the Western media. They think they are privy to privileged truths. And they act upon that. All what is wrong they learn from the “free press.” The same press that lies that their protests gather 100 thousand people “braving the bitter cold” and that pro-Putin protests consisting of “bussed in, paid for, and intimidated state employees” garner only 20 thousand (as the venerable Associated Press lied to the global public). Many of them
work in Western companies which usually run a more rewarding corporate culture than their Russian peers. They deal with happy foreign management with liberal expat compensation packages and hygienic corporate offices. “This is cool, West is better, Why aren’t we like that,” the iPhonchik thinks.

“I’m different, I am independent, I think for myself,” they learn from the iClass social media which they blindly trust - collectively. All converge in their new found independence. Independently they joined the cheers of 30 or 40 thousand of their copies and shouted “Russia without Putin” – hoping the climate would change.

My point is that the iClass protests were driven by perceptions of Russia versus the West (their West of the elite hotels – not the homes with the 15 degree winter room temperature due to lack of central heating, or the households of the 40 to 60% personal income tax).

It is against this psychological backdrop that the real problems of Russia can be exploited, some of which represent fundamental political problems and a couple of mistakes of the leading powers.

Picture: Protests December 5, 2012. The liberal intelligentsia singing the same old song.

The real fundamental problems are corruption and bureaucracy, both inherited from the Soviet Union and aggravated in the years of criminal anarchy of the 1990’s. But the iClass does not have any sense of history and no interest to analyze causes and effects. For them Putin is to be blamed just as he is to be blamed for the harsh winter, and the sweltering summer and forest fires. Twelve years in power and still corruption and bureaucracy, the iClass social media tells them to think. At the same time the propaganda they are the targets for tells that Putin is a repressive autocrat, who must be opposed by any means. But this just signifies that they share with Putin the rejection of repression as a means to cure the problems of corruption, but further than that their cognitive processes do not carry. They don’t understand that it has been a fundamental condition to enable the fight against corruption to establish a central power with the main state functions in reality being subordinated to the government, something that has been achieved only in the last two or three years. There was no central government when Putin came to power, but now there are the rudiments of it. It is only now, first time in some 90 years, that the Russian state has acquired a legislative base and political force to tackle the problem in an intelligent and effective way. And now because the real Middle Class re-elected Putin we can expect that the fight against corruption will bear tangible results within next two to four years.

But although a lot has been made to fight the manifestations of an excessive, abusive and absurd bureaucracy it is not enough. The efforts here should be seriously stepped up to deliver fast and tangible results. And no doubt it will happen, and that will be the best result of the iClass revolution. Here the government really needs to be on the right side of history.

Then finally we have the problems of the government’s own making: the image of United Russia, the party of power, and the news programs of the state owned channels.

After the Duma elections both Medvedev and Putin acknowledged the image problem of United Russia which is mainly anchored in lining the party leadership and electoral lists with bureaucrats, mayors, and governors who lack popular appeal and a real interest to any kind of political ideology. (Other thing, that the ideology itself is not well articulated. For my part I suggest to build it around a platform of Social Liberalism and Patriotism). They occupy their positions in the party hierarchy and electoral lists the same way a bureaucrat is appointed. Many find that repulsive and do not bother any further with the ideology or political program.

The state-controlled television news have done a lot to destroy the image of Putin and Medvedev by constantly devoting so much of the air time to the daily activities of these political leaders. My impression has been that one third of the time goes to showing what Medvedev has done during the day, one third to Putin and the rest to other news. If somebody thinks that this kind of publicity works in favor of these politicians then they are dead wrong.

To conclude, we see that there is no Arab Spring in the air. We have a host of real and perceived problems. And it seems that the people around Putin have identified the real ones. The fight against corruption is now real and will bring results; daily life will be facilitated and bureaucracy will be cut down with tangible results in the coming years; United Russia will be given a facelift and hopefully turned into a real people’s party; and there are encouraging signs that the television is changing. Together with continuing economic growth thanks to Putin’s social liberal program these measures will secure the needed support for the government.

 

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Jon Hellevig

Jon Hellevig has worked with Russian law immediately since the start of market reforms in early 1990's. Having gained 5 years' experience as lawyer and CFO for American-Russian joint venture and subsequently worked as lawyer and CFO for Armstrong World Industries (Central and East Europe). Hellevig was the founding partner of what is now Hellevig, Klein & Usov, part of Awara Group.
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