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December 31st, 2016

Happy New Year!

img_4232Dear Friends and Readers!

Committee for Russian Economic Freedom wishes you a Happy New Year!
We wish you and your families well-being and prosperity, peace and joy! Let the year 2017 bring to every home only good news, and let us leave all the sad ones in the past.

In today’s changing world our organization is not going to fall behind life. Within the nearest future we are preparing to change our name and to present you with the two completely new projects: summer history school and immigrants’ support service. All further details are to be announced shortly, please follow us into the New Year!

Happy New 2017 Year!

Pavel Ivlev, Chairman
Committee for Russian Economic Freedom 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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October 21st, 2016

We Can Go Screw Ourselves

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Picture by svobodnoslovo.eu

Economic sanctions imposed by the West on Putin’s friends and their enterprises, as well as on the most sensitive sectors of the Russian economy—the oil and gas industries and the capital market—have been in effect for more than two years. These measures, however, have failed to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty over the Donbass and Crimea, or to make the Russian military admit its obvious guilt in the crash of the Malaysian Airlines plane. Russian citizens, intoxicated by Kremlin propaganda, do not seem to be interested in the reasons behind the lack of accessible credits, the rise in prices, and the freezing of pension savings, but continue to largely support the aggressive international policy of their presumptuous rulers. So what is the result of the renowned Western sanctions?

In two and a half years, Russia has lost a considerable amount of foreign investments that the country was supposed to receive, and was forced to suspend indefinitely the exploration of new oil and gas fields due to the ban on the import of technologies and equipment. Both factors will continue to have a negative effect on the revenues of the Russian budget. Putin’s economic advisers—the market-oriented Aleksei Kudrin and the anti-market Sergei Glaziyev — both evaluate Russia’s losses resulting from the annexation of Crimea and the introduction of sanctions at no less than $200 billion. According to other experts, the largest part of these losses amounting to $170 billion was caused by Western sanctions. >> Read more

October 5th, 2016

Putinary Geology

mxqfrany89Everyone knows from school textbooks that Russia is extremely rich in mineral resources with the most valuable of them being oil and gas of course. Had Siberia not been rich in oil and gas, Putin could have probably been unable to stay in power that long, since without the “oil needle” hungry Russians would have told the usurper from the KGB to get lost a long time ago. However, he has been fortunate so far, and despite the fact that the importance of hydrocarbons as a source of energy has been slowly but steadily decreasing worldwide, the current Russian tsar still has enough oil revenues to provide for himself and his friends and to silence his electorate that has grown stupid from watching government-owned TV channels broadcasting state propaganda. Russia still has enough available stocks of mineral resources to maintain the status quo in the immediate and medium-term. As for the distant future, the Kremlin does not seem concerned about that at all. It is no surprise then that exploration activity is hardly being carried out in Russia, and geology as a science is slowly dying.

In April 2016, on Minister of Education and Science Dmitri Livanov’s orders, the Russian State Geological Prospecting University >> Read more

September 28th, 2016

From The Cherry Orchard to the Khimki Forest

 

 “You have no mercy on the woods, or the birds, or on women, or on one another…”

Uncle Vanya, А.P. Chekhov, 1896

photo by etosibir.ru

Photo by etosibir.ru

Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard were written more than a century ago, but they remain a brilliant portrait of Russian society and its attitude toward the world around, woods included.

Forests cover around 45 percent of Russia’s territory, and the country accounts for 24 percent of the world’s timber resources. The Siberian taiga and its cedar trees are as much a symbol of Russia as the Kremlin and Sputnik. It would seem that Russian forests should be valued and protected as a national treasure. However, just like the people of Russia, Russian forests have their own peculiar fate full of suffering and tragic mistakes.

Back in 2013, an international team of scientists calculated that from 2000 to 2012, Russia had lost more forest area than any other country in the world. Such forest cover loss was caused by different reasons including forest fires, storms and insect pests. However, this was also due in no small part to human activity. According to World Wildlife Fund’s estimates, Russia annually loses around $1 billion due to illegal logging.

According to First Deputy Prosecutor General Aleksander Buksman, illegal logging is responsible for more than 800,000 hectares of Russia’s forest loss annually, which is more than half of the total wood harvest in the country. >> Read more

August 31st, 2016

Stadiums Versus Hospitals

Photo by tranzewatte.livejournal.com

Photo by tranzewatte.livejournal.com

Russian healthcare, just like state-funded Soviet healthcare before it, has never been characterized by either quality or accessibility.  Despite rather large investments in the medical industry that both the federal and local budgets could afford during the period of high energy prices, the quality of medical care received by the population remains appallingly poor. There is a deficit of doctors, and their level of knowledge does not meet modern-day standards. There is a continuous deficit of effective drugs. Today, when oil revenues have plunged and there is no prospect of foreign investment, the question arises:  At whose expense will the government be cutting back on spending? The authorities have quickly found a solution on the federal level by gradually reducing healthcare spending for over a year. Local authorities act in a similar way. Only, whereas in Putin’s opinion, the government cannot cut down on “national security” spending (or in other words, federal expenditures on the police and special forces used to suppress popular unrest), local authorities use budget funds that were supposed to be spent on health care and education, for example, to build sports facilities for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup instead. Thus, in St. Petersburg, funds originally intended for the construction of schools, daycare centers and healthcare facilities are going to be used to complete the construction of the Zenit Arena stadium.

Georgi Poltavchenko, Putin’s colleague from the Leningrad KGB and current governor of St. Petersburg, called this redistribution of funds a “technical solution” instead of admitting that the country that is rapidly sliding into poverty simply cannot afford an expensive World Cup. It would seem that it should not be difficult for
>> Read more

June 23rd, 2016

Putin, Roldugin, Shamalov, Patrushev and the Rest of Homeowners

Apartment building in Moscow / Photo by apb1.ru

Apartment building in Moscow / Photo by apb1.ru

The widely known problems in Russia’s housing and communal services sector are not new. The entire sector is slowly but steadily deteriorating. This is no surprise since the average age of the Russian housing stock exceeds 40 years. Several tragedies happened over the last year. A residential building partially collapsed in Mezhdurechensk; household gas explosions occurred in Omsk, Perm, Yaroslavl and Volgograd; a bridge collapsed in Vladivostok; cars regularly get stuck in potholes as pavement collapses. Well-known Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov has repeatedly supplied evidence of dire housing conditions of ordinary Russians.

The federal authorities do not at all seem concerned about this situation. In 2016, federal allocations for the repair and replacement of utility lines as well as for the upgrading of the housing stock will amount to around 75 billion rubles or about half of the obviously ill-gotten $2 billion belonging to Putin’s close friend violinist Roldugin. There are plans to further cut federal spending on the housing and communal services sector in 2017 to more than half its 2016 amount.

In fact, why should Russia’s budget be spent on housing around 85 percent of which is privately owned? On the other hand, despite the mass privatization of apartments in the 1990s, public spaces and communal services of most apartment buildings such as entrance halls, courtyards, stairs, gas, electrical and plumbing have not been privatized and remain the responsibility of municipalities. The budget situation on the local level is obviously much worse than on the federal one. >> Read more

May 19th, 2016

Useless Services

Photo by Vadim Akhmetov / Znak.com

Photo by Vadim Akhmetov / Znak.com

The production of what goods and services accounts for the largest share of Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP)? That is a simple economic question. Amateurs would be wrong as usual in claiming that the right answer to this question is oil and gas. In the modern market economy – and in the last 20 years, Russia has been classified as a market economy unlike, for example, North Korea – the largest share of GDP is attributed to various services. Banking and transportation services, healthcare and education, lawyers and auditors, Internet and cell phone services together account for 55 percent of Russia’s GDP. Just for comparison, in the United States, the same services account for as much as 80 percent of the country’s GDP. The rule is simple: The more developed a country is and the higher the living standards of its population are, the larger the share of the service sector in its economy is.

Legal and auditing services without which private business cannot exist or develop occupy a special place in the variety of services. Businessmen use the results of independent legal analysis and audit to reduce risks and avoid losses. >> Read more

March 2nd, 2016

Deplorable State of Russia’s Road Network

February 17th, 2016

The Postal Bank’s Kremlin Connections

February 9th, 2016

CHECHNYA, The One-Man Stand-Up Thriller