“Modernization needs support of interested social groups” – Vladislav Surkov

Russia needs active social groups to push ideas of modernization, said the first deputy head of the presidential administration, Vladislav Surkov.

Speaking at the international forum “Social Dimension of Modernization,” Surkov noted that government cannot “switch on the process of social change” if this process is not supported by social groups.

“We need active social groups motivated by modernization,” he said, adding that at present such groups are absent in Russia. “Today we do not have such large social groups, and everything is driven by bureaucratic efforts.”

Surkov pointed out that groups that are interested in modernization should consist of “engineers and scientists, business and foreign specialists.”

“There is positive development in this direction and we hope that soon we will have those who are interested in modernization, which includes technical re-equipment of industry,” he said.

He stressed that in order for these groups to be formed, society first needs to understand what practical benefits modernization brings.

"We need to prove to the majority of our fellow citizens that these efforts will result in higher living standards, that modernization is profitable," said Surkov. “It should be not just ideals, not just values, but also ordinary – if you will excuse me – food matters.”

Surkov has also “categorically disagreed” with the statement that Russia does not have democratic institutions. He said that even in the 1990s, even weak and corrupt institutions worked and were able to “cope with absolute instability in the country.”

“Democracy always criticizes its institutions, it is normal,” he said. “Only wealthy societies have stable democracy.”

As for the Russian elite, that was also discussed at the meeting, according to Surkov. The country’s elite, he said, “has not completely decided whether it is local or has suitcases ready.” They have not completely decided, he added, whether they will fight for a new culture in Russia or remain “standing on one leg.”