Staunton, October 28 – Russian nationalists and others have regularly criticized Vladimir Putin for building an economy and hence a state that relies on the export of raw materials rather than the development of industry and investment in human capital. But now two of them have stepped up this attack and argued that Putin is making Russia “a third world country.”
Such suggestions are exaggerations, but just like assertions at the end of Soviet Times that the USSR had become “an Upper Volta with missiles,” they clearly touch a nerve and a re likely to mobilize both those with a specifically nationalist agenda and those broader groups that are troubled by Putin’s failure to promote industry and invest in education and science.
Speaking with Tatyana Felgengauer on Ekho Moskvy, Stanislav Belkovsky argued that to understand what is happening in Russia today, one needs to recognize that “Russia is ever more becoming a third world country,” a development that he argued is “the main negative result of the rule of Vladimir Putin” (echo.msk.ru/programs/personalno/1182724-echo/).
Liberals who think that Putin has established a dictatorship are wrong, the Russian nationalist commentator continues. “There is no dictatorship … never have the Russian people known such day-to-day freedoms” as under his rule. But unfortunately that is not the only thing the Russian president has brought.
According to Belkovsky, the country has declined into “a catastrophic provincialism” that recalls the third world, and he remiands that “the struggle with provincialism aalways was the main motive of the social existence of the Russian man,” a struggle which occupied “a significant part of great Russian literature, including in particular all of Chekhov.”
“Under conditions of such provincialness,” Belkovsky says, “inter-national and inter-ethnic relations can only intensify because provincialness leads to the growth of social depression,” and with depression comes anger at anyone who is immediately available and viewed as different even if they are not responsible for the problems.
Less elegantly but more pointedly the Debryanskaya Rus regional blog makes the same point, lashing out at Putin’s reliance on the export of raw materials and on the east rather than the west (debryansk-rus.org/2013/10/27/%D0%B8%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BD-%D0%BA%D1%83%D0%BF%D0%B8-%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87/#more-48366