Reform mastermind Chubais forecasts surge in protests and 500,000-strong rallies

Rusnano CEO Anatoly Chubais (RIA Novosti / Alexey Filippov)
The demand for political changes will not wane in Russia and protest rallies will soon gather up to 500,000 people, says the main strategist behind Russian market reforms of the 1990s.

Anatoliy Chubais added he was ‘100 percent sure’ in the forecast he made in an interview with Russia’s Itogi magazine.

The fact that the last rally was attended not by a hundred thousand, but thirty does not mean that the protest is dwindling. This is rubbish! There will be ten more rallies gathering three thousand people each and then suddenly half a million will gather!” the magazine quoted Chubais as saying.

The prominent reformer added that the importance of economic changes will be much lower than the one of political changes within the next ten year. The main obstacle to the nation’s development is in politics, not economics, he stressed, highlighting the obsolete justice system and corruption as the main curbs.

The protest rallies in Moscow are not a unique and accidental event, but a manifestation of contradictions accumulated in society, Chubais stressed.

He added that though he saw any political scenario as possible – from the evolution of democractic institutions to a real social crisis, similar to the one of the 1990s – only really blunt mistakes on the side of the authorities could allow for the confrontation and the following political disaster.

Anatoliy Chubais was the State Property Minister in the Russian Socialist Federal Republic and became Deputy Prime Minister in charge of state property as it was transformed into the Russian Federation. Chubais is largely seen as the main strategist and manager behind Boris Yeltsin’s economic reforms and privatization schemes. The public attitude to the man is polarized from unquestionable support of the few that favor the changes to the libertarian capitalist model, to the blind hatred of the masses that were put on the edge of poverty and had to witness the rise of a few oligarchs from the inner circle.

Despite taking a brief foray into politics in the late 1990s by supporting the rightist pro-business project SPS, Chubais himself remained a state executive, by heading the national power grid RAO UES and leading it through an extensive reform. Since 2008 he has headed the state corporation ROSNANO- the company is looking for a major economic breakthrough through nanotechnology development.

Chubais’s alarming forecast echoes the report of a major Russian think-tank, that said last week that though the distrust in authorities is growing in the country a change of government is still unlikely any time soon.

The Center of Strategic Research went on to state that mass protests were still possible if triggered by growing economic and social problems as well as by the change of generations. The researchers also suggested that even without the turmoil, the Russian nation could collapse through a loss of labor skills, declining birth rate, alcoholism and a general helplessness.

The Kremlin, however, dismissed the think tank’s pessimistic predictions. “We have never supported appraisals of the state of affairs in this country made with rosy eyeglasses on, but such pessimism that lacks any foundation whatsoever also must not exist,” Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.