‘Russian runoff could bring unforeseen results’

If Vladimir Putin doesn’t win the presidency in the first round, he may face Communist leader Zyuganov with unpredictable results, says Anatoly Chubais, head of Russia’s hi-tech state corporation Rosnano and father of privatization in the 1990s.

­The Rosnano chief acknowledged that at the moment, Vladimir Putin is the strongest candidate, but said this “does not mean that Putin will necessarily win in the first round” on March 4.

“If Putin does not win in the first round, then we will have an extremely complicated political situation, where in the second round we will have Putin – Zyuganov, and that is something Russian society has not completely realized,” he says. The outcome, he adds, is not certain if the new ‘Bolotnaya’ public opposition, so named after the square where recent protests took place, is asked to choose.

Anatoly Chubais outlined what steps the new Russian government, to be formed after inauguration of a new president in April, should take to stop business leaders stealing money and taking it out of the country.

He said with inflation in 2011 at around seven per cent (the final figure has not yet been released) and economic growth at around 3.7 per cent, the expectations for 2012 are solid and positive, for both GDP growth and inflation decrease.

Therefore, argues Anatoly Chubais, “The basic reasons for capital outflow in Russia have no connection with macroeconomic fundamentals – because they [the fundamentals] are quite positive.”

“The basics are the rule of law: [fighting] corruption, an independent juridical system – these are the main priorities on which the new Russian government and the next Russian president should concentrate on,” Chubais said, adding that he knows only one way to fight corruption, and “the name of this way is democracy.”

According to the Rosnano head, anti-corruption legislation is “about nothing” and does not work if there is no real political competition, independent political parties or free access to the media, including opposition access to TV channels.

He believes a new Russian opposition, which will gain such access, was born during December’s protests in Moscow on Bolotnaya Square and Sakharov Avenue.

“That is the only way to fight corruption in Russia.”

Anatoly Chubais believes that in the next three years at least, Russia’s budget will not be balanced, and its restructuring is inevitable.

He said that budget expenditures need such a considerable cut, that this cannot be done without huge reforms.

“We need pension reforms, we need healthcare reforms, we need additional steps in transforming the Russian educational system – those steps are the only institutional way to cut budgetary spending,” he insists.

“We have under-reformed for the last 6-7 years, and the more we delay this painful step, the more radical and painful the pension reform will be,” Chubais concluded.

The head of Rosnano said he is not against increasing military spending in Russia, because if arranged properly, this may help “boost innovation in the military industry”.

But in his opinion, the Russian military budget is unrealistic.

“There is no way to spend that much money on this structure without unbalancing Russia’s economy – that is the problem,” Chubais stressed.

The Rosnano Corporation is heavily investing in Russian hi-tech, but, as Chubais puts it, “there are fantastically interesting projects outside Russia” too, so in such cases, a transfer of technology does make sense.

“We [Rosnano] have a 75 per cent proportion of Russian projects in our portfolio, and 25 per cent of transfer of technology from outside Russia,” Chubais revealed, expressing hope that if the modernization being undertaken in Russia is successful, in 10 years’ time, the proportion of Russian projects will be increased.

Anatoly Chubais, who has just married for the third time, informed RT he craves to reduce his role in Russian politics to zero.

“My dream is to take no part in any kind of political process whatsoever, at least at the public level.”