Monday, September 29, 2014

Life After Putin: Russia Needs to Be Rebuilt From Scratch

The Moscow Times
Sep. 29 2014 21:06

It is strange to recall in 2014 that back at the beginning of his rule, President Vladimir Putin was hailed as a reformer. His main agenda during his first term in the Kremlin in 2000-04 included a cull of the swelling, ineffective bureaucracy and a municipal reform meant to foster grassroots self-governance — a prerequisite for lasting democracy and a tradition historically weak in his highly centralized country.

Putin never finished most of the reforms he started — including the most vital ones, such as regional and municipal self-governance, justice, health, education, law enforcement and democratic political procedures — having become distracted by the construction of the power vertical.

Reformist drive surged again when he installed Dmitry Medvedev as his placeholder in the Kremlin in 2008-12. While Medvedev's role as Putin's proxy is, in retrospect, obvious, his pledges to improve the business climate, build a high-tech economy and reform health care, education and the remaining social services generated a lot of enthusiasm.

Medvedev's promises were never fulfilled either, and the disappointment at his stepping-down in favor of Putin without having seen through any reforms triggered the street protests of 2011-13, the biggest in two decades.

(More here.)

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