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14 Sep, 2009 09:12

ROAR: “Medvedev forces elite to modernize”

ROAR: “Medvedev forces elite to modernize”

The Russian president asks the elite to take part in changing economic and political life in the country, however the methods and forces of the modernization are still unclear, analysts say.

Observers are still arguing if the president’s article published on September 10 in Russian media was addressed to “liberals or conservatives.” First, political scientists said that the main addressee was the liberal community.

In his article, the president presented the whole structure of liberal ideas, Yelena Zelinskaya, vice president of the journalists’ MediaSoyuz organization and a member of the Public Chamber, said.

Mikhail Vinogradov, president of the Petersburg Politics Foundation, stressed that the president had posted his article on Gazeta.ru, considered to be a “fairly independent” website where many serious analysts are published, including representatives of the liberal camp.

On the other hand, this website is not “in strong opposition,” Vinogradov told Gazeta daily which is not associated with Gazeta.ru. “But after the article had appeared in other outlets, it was difficult to consider the publication in Gazeta.ru as the president’s attempt to establish a contact with the liberal part of society,” the daily said.

Analyst Tatyana Stanovaya, in her turn, called Medvedev’s article “a conservative’s liberal message.”

“It is probably the most liberal text in form and the most conservative in substance,” Stanovaya wrote on Politcom.ru website. She believes that Medvedev gave a negative reply to the project of liberalization, which is actively promoted by some analysts.

“The whole article is built on one idea – Russia needs modernization,” she said. And Medvedev made it clear “that liberals are not the allies that help him in promoting the project of the modernization of the country’s economy, which is more important for him politically and personally,” she stressed.

The president “gave an answer to radicals,” Pavel Salin, analyst at the Center for Political Conjuncture, said. “In his keynote article, Dmitry Medvedev considered, among others, issues of the modernization of political system,” Salin noted.

“The president for the first time expressed absolutely clearly his position about radical liberalization – so far one could judge it only thanks to indirect signs,” the analyst said.

Salin stressed three principal moments in Medvedev’s article. First, there will be no “abrupt moves” in the country’s modernization. One should not expect “a return to the ‘democratic’ 1990s,” the analyst believes.

The president also made it clear that the development of democracy and political freedoms in the country “is directly linked to scientific and technical conditions,” and there will be no democratic “superstructure” without technological “basis,” the analyst noted.

Finally, the president stressed that it was unacceptable to “imitate Western samples,” which does not rule out studying and understanding other countries’ experience, Salin said.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily also wrote that the president stressed the need for modernization. The paper called the president’s article “a fundamental attempt to address his views, not only to the elite, but also to the most advanced part of the Russian people –the internet community.”

However, Dmitry Orlov, general director of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications told the paper that Medvedev’s article was a “modernization project” addressed “first of all to the inert elite.”

These elite will “have to be forced to modernization,” Orlov believes. The analyst stressed the need for “a road map of an accelerated modernization,” in which concrete projects should be determined.

“The national coalition of agents of the modernization” should be created, which may unite groups of the population and elite, able to change the system, Orlov thinks. At the same time, the president advocates “profound changes, but systematic and gradual,” he said.

Gleb Pavlovsky, president of the Effective Politics Foundation, does not agree with the statement that Medvedev’s article was addressed only to the elite. The analyst called the article “a declaration of principles of the partnership with public forces” and the appeal to the whole civil society.

Medvedev published his e-mail address for feedback “as the address of forces supporting the modernization of the country,” Pavlovsky noted. The analyst added that Medvedev has spoken “not only about the modernization of economy, but also of the modernization of the Russian democracy.”

“It seems that the Rubicon has been crossed,” Pavlovsky told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The president said that “he is with those who advocate a strong, but democratic Russia, and not with the forces of slowdown, inertia and paternalism,” the analyst noted.

The president’s article is “uncompromising,” Pavlovsky said. At the same time, it proposes a step-by-step system of actions “without breaking with achievements of the [Vladimir] Putin presidency.”

Vedomosti daily also writes in its editorial that Medevdev has marked “an agenda of modernization” for his address to be delivered soon before the Russian parliament. The president “numbers the problems of the country and depicts a clear future,” the paper said.

However, he does not suggest “technological decisions (maybe there are ones, but they are kept secret until the address before the Federal Assembly),” the daily stressed.

Evgeny Minchenko, Director of International Institute for Political Expertise believes that Medvedev’s article “depicts the shape of the future.”“It is a key moment in the conditions of the crisis – people should understand where the country is going,” he said.

The analyst also told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that “for the first time at such high-level paternalistic sentiments have been criticized.”

As for the feedback on the article, Minchenko said it was important to see “how all these letters from the population would be processed.” He added, “The main thing is that the feedback should be a real connection, and not an appeal to emptiness.”

Aleksandr Brod, a member of the Public Chamber, in his turn compared Medvedev’s article with the US President Franklin Roosevelt’s address to the nation. Roosevelt also spoke “plainly, clearly and frankly about difficulties and problems of the US during the Great Depression," he said.

Sergey Borisov, RT