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The Russia wide protests organized by Navalny on June 12 were a flop.

This was not unexpected, given the lack of enthusiasm on social networks – in Moscow, there were 20% fewer people expressing interest in going to this event relative to the March 26th protest on Facebook. The earlier event had translated into 8,000 people, which is pretty much a “fail” so far as a 13 million population metropolis is concerned.

In the smaller Russian cities, where the June 12 protests went ahead as agreed with the local authorities, turnout was unimpressive, typically numbering in the low 100′s.

Pavel Gladkov has collected some photos (h/t melanf):

The protest in Novosibirsk, the third biggest Russian city (1.5 million) and unofficial capital of Siberia, gathered 2,000 people, which is about the same as in March.

Turnout has in general been similar to the March 26 rallies. This implies Navalny’s support on the streets – as in the polls – hasn’t improved since then.

Which, I suppose, explains why Navalny decided to sabotage his own protests in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg.

Quick recap:

The Moscow city authorities gave Navalny permission to stage a meeting at prospekt Sakharova, a relatively central and spacious location. In Saint-Petersburg, they offered a location at Udelnaya, which is less central, but still spacious and easily accessible by metro.

In the last few hours before the protests, Navalny made a location change, to Tverskaya in Moscow and The Field of Mars in Saint-Petersburg, both of which are at the very centers of those cities. Moreover, Tverskaya in particular was already hosting a massive historical reconstruction festival.

sakahrov-speakers Before the protests, many observers, including myself, had expressed skepticism about Navalny’s claims that stage and sound suppliers had been pressured not to service his event. Navalny used this “insult” as the formal explanation for why he was moving the location of the protest.

However, the only evidence he provided was a phone conversation between two anonymous people. Moreover, as the liberal blogger Ilya Varlamov pointed out, why couldn’t he have bought speakers at a store and then returned/resold them?

Then on the day of the event itself it emerged that a sound and speaker system did emerge on prospekt Sakharova anyway, which should blow up anyone’s suspicion meter through the roof.

The weight of the evidence thus indicates that the sound and speaker blockade reason was bogus.

The likeliest alternative explanation is that Team Navalny, aware that attendance numbers were going to be unimpressive – in the event, an accurate assessment – decided that the only way to get into the news cycle would be to create an interesting spectacle for make benefit of Western cameras.

Unfortunately, due to the very low quality – or malicious competence – of the Western media, he largely succeeded in this, as RT’s Bryan MacDonald points out:

macdonald-crap-russia-journalism Then there were the blatant misrepresentations. Such as when New York Times’ bureau chief Neil MacFarquhar and Financial Times’ Eastern Europe Editor Neil Buckley both attempted to depict barriers clearly erected as props for the military history show as “traps” to impede protesters. Tweets they later deleted, in fairness. Nevertheless, this particular “fake news” tweet by the anti-Russia activist Alex Kokcharov has been shared hundreds of times, enjoying retweets from the likes of Economist magazine editor Edward Lucas and Anders Aslund of NATO’s Atlantic Council adjunct.

Almost every correspondent refused to tell followers how the event was “unsanctioned” and “illegal,” instead preferring to act as cheerleaders. Some examples included hacks from Foreign Policy, the Guardian, BBC and the Moscow Times. Meanwhile, Associated Press, the Washington Post, ABC and Fox all managed to omit any mention of the history festival in their reaction to the change of location.

And then there was CNN, always good for a laugh on this beat, breathlessly telling its viewers that hundreds of thousands of demonstrators could be mobilized. When in reality it was around 5,000 in Moscow.

Unfortunately for Navalny, the Russian electorate are not Western audiences, and these stunts are unlikely to work out well for him.

The March 26 meeting was an essentially harmless affair, perhaps a minor inconvenience to some Muscovites, but one that was adequately compensated by the entirely voluntary personal risk the protesters took by participating in an unauthorized gathering.

It was the protesters’ choice to come there and effect non-violent resistance (for the most part) in service of a cause they believed in. It was OMON’s choice to uphold the letter of the law and clear out an unsanctioned protest; they are well-compensated for their trouble. It was my own choice to risk arrest by covering it as a “citizen journalist” of sorts; as with Vincent Law, my greater fear is not getting arrested per se, nor the fines, nor a day or two in detention; it’s the fact of getting arrested *at a Navalny protest*.

The important thing is that the risk of innocent passersby getting caught up was minimal.

This time round, Navalny and his crew purposefully crashed a separate event where people wanted to cosplay historical battles, not participate in an actual one against the police. This would have been irresponsible and unethical course of action for anyone with pretenses to serious politics. That this was very likely based on a lie makes it outright disgraceful. These are the actions of a two bit rabblerouser.

For instance, here is one account of how Navalny supporters ruined the day of one reconstructor who wanted to show Muscovites how medieval Russians made decorative beads (h/t E for partial translation):

They [the liberals] yelled into the faces of myself, the musicians and historical reconstructionists that we were “traitors”, that what we’re doing is useless sh*t, that we should instead be having meetings, that we are paid-off varmints who were placed there in order to disrupt their meetings. To our protests that we’re teaching people crafts and history, we received the reply: “Nobody needs any of that sh*t! We need to have meetings and create a revolution!”. I really wanted to bash these people’s faces in, but people were yelling at us that we shouldn’t give in to provocation, because EVERYTHING was CONSTANTLY being filmed by dozens of cameras.

In the end, the programme continued after a several-hour interruption. Of course, I didn’t make any more beads, because I needed to heat up my oven again and there wasn’t much time left.
In one of the camps, they took down and broke a pavilion, and broke the tent in another. But the reconstructionists, having armed themselves with shields, saved the most important places from total destruction. I understand how difficult it must have been not to grab the spears and axes, as well.

By all rights, this should finally finish off Navalny’s portrayal of himself as a champion of honesty and transparency in politics.

As his recent interview with Ksenia Sobchak confirmed, this is a non too bright man who does not know elementary facts and figures about the state of the Russian economy or public health. He is a one-trick pony who is only any good on corruption, or at least coming up with catchy slogans about it. However, even on corruption, it just so often happens that Navalny’s demonstrated behavior is at odds with his purported principles and beliefs, with this latest episode being just the latest example.

That said, Navalny is undoubtedly extremely talented at playing the democratic martyr for the Western cameras.

Therefore, the main part of his constituency – Western consumers of CNN and Buzzfeed – will have to keep on wondering why the collapse of the Putin regime keeps failing to pan out for the nth time.

 
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  1. So, is he still a viable alternative to “Greater Turkestan”? :)

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  2. This may not be a popular sentiment to express on this site, but I cannot reconcile “clear principles” and Navalny’s past advocacy for 1) rule of law and 2) targeted bans on Chechen ethnic dancing in Moscow in public. You can be for one thing or the other; if you go for both you are clearly just a demagogue who tries to cater to hypocrites.

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    • Replies: @Hyperborean
    I can understand why people might not like Chechens in general but why ban their dances? Are their traditional dances really that annoying?
    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Personally I have yet to see a single person performing a lezginka or anything of the sort in Moscow since coming here last December.

    I think it's one of those non-issues that people like to focus on to avoid more substantive problems and Navalny humors them with that because its irrelevant and he's a cheap populist.
  3. @Daniil Adamov
    This may not be a popular sentiment to express on this site, but I cannot reconcile "clear principles" and Navalny's past advocacy for 1) rule of law and 2) targeted bans on Chechen ethnic dancing in Moscow in public. You can be for one thing or the other; if you go for both you are clearly just a demagogue who tries to cater to hypocrites.

    I can understand why people might not like Chechens in general but why ban their dances? Are their traditional dances really that annoying?

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  4. @Hyperborean
    I can understand why people might not like Chechens in general but why ban their dances? Are their traditional dances really that annoying?

    Yes. They are.

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  5. @Daniil Adamov
    This may not be a popular sentiment to express on this site, but I cannot reconcile "clear principles" and Navalny's past advocacy for 1) rule of law and 2) targeted bans on Chechen ethnic dancing in Moscow in public. You can be for one thing or the other; if you go for both you are clearly just a demagogue who tries to cater to hypocrites.

    Personally I have yet to see a single person performing a lezginka or anything of the sort in Moscow since coming here last December.

    I think it’s one of those non-issues that people like to focus on to avoid more substantive problems and Navalny humors them with that because its irrelevant and he’s a cheap populist.

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    • Replies: @Daniil Adamov
    I get the sense that it was more of an epidemic around the time of his mayoral run. But yes, precisely. How is it compatible with supposedly being for rule of law and against arbitrary legislation? The thing is, while he might think he's playing to both nationalists and liberals at once, in reality he's just playing to people who call themselves liberals but would also really like to have some arbitrary legislation to redress their trivial sectional annoyances.
  6. So is Putin’s popularity entirely based on standing up to the West and things being better than they were in the 90′s?

    The economy was going to improve off it’s awful 90′s performance no matter what. Putin was just in the right place in the right time.

    He deserves credit, from a Russian perspective, for standing up to the West but that seems like a pretty weak reason to give him Saddam levels of approval.

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation. Russia ranks as the 131st most corrupt economy in the world, putting it in a tie with Iran and Sierre Leone. And not only is Putin not reducing corruption in Russia, it seems like he actually prefers a high level of corruption because it makes the country easier to rule.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims. And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Putin has been great for non Russian enemies of Globalism, but what has he done for Russians to make them love him so much?

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    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    This topic of corruption in Russia is seriously overblown. Consider the fact that Transparency rating is basically a poll of "experts" with an axe to grind against Putin regime. It does not give the most accurate picture.

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine - that country has yet to catch up to late-Soviet level of output.

    , @E
    The general sense I got from people after visiting Russia in 2015 was that Putin is widely admired not JUST for a good economy and good management, but also for setting a positive example for young people. He's serious, industrious, intelligent, leads a healthy lifestyle, doesn't do drugs or alcohol (unlike Yeltsin). Russia as a whole tends to take on the character of its leaders to some extent, and I would say that this is definitely true of its last two. Many of Russia's recent changes have not simply been because of a good economy, but because of non-economic societal decisions.

    I've been visiting Russia every 5 years or so since the 1990s, and things have really improved (in MOST areas) to a degree that's hard to believe over the last decade. In 2015, I visited both big cities and provincial towns, in the north and south, over the course of around 2 months, staying with various friends and family or in youth hostels. In this visit, most places looked well-maintained, orderly, modern, rich in cultural and economic activity. Everybody had smartphones, just like in the West. It hardly looked like the same country.

    From my first-hand impressions, I would say with little hesitation that Russia is ALREADY a developed country, and in certain ways people live better than they do in Ontario, Canada, where I live (it depends on what priorities you have. For example, Russians seem far more likely to have good grocery stores within walking distance, to have good public transit, nearby forest trails, to dress better, and to have affordable high culture, but on the other hand live in smaller apartments, have a more privatized medical system).

    Most people in the West don't yet realize this. Many Russian emigres, particularly, have never visited Russia since the Soviet era or the 1990s, and still think of it as run-down, poor and grey, things that are no longer true.

    We also shouldn't forget, when comparing international statistics, that GDP/capita is in part a measurement of how financialized a society is. Some aspects of life in Russia take up significantly less of a typical paycheck than in the West (e.g. housing, according to some people I talked to there), with the result that its GDP/capita is lower, but it doesn't necessarily follow that quality of life is also lower. The only surefire way to compare two places is to visit both, talk to people, see how they live.

    , @Daniil Adamov
    Part of it is that, for someone more a part of the ruling establishment than Hillary Clinton, Putin is remarkably good at playing the populist "father of the people" card. He stands up to Americans, oligarchs and terrorists... far less than he could, but he makes it look like a lot. He Shows Up and Gets Things Done. Like so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjrlTMvirVo

    Of course, he does have real accomplishments to his credit. The economy would've probably improved and the crime wave would've probably died down under anyone halfway sensible, but he also conducted a variety of pro-majority social and economic policies that the author of this blog has doubtless described before. Some of it just amounted to bribing the populace, but some of it also genuinely helped increase the average life expectancy. Hard to hate the guy who gave you a few more years of life, which a social-darwinist globalist liberal (the only kind that's allowed to thrive here, naturally) would not have done.
    , @Jon0815

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims.
     
    That's true when it comes to temporary migrants, but the number who become voting citizens (which is what really matters) is much smaller.

    In 2016, 70-75% of new Russian citizens were white Christians (about 50% were from Central Asia, but according to Kazakh government statistics, nearly all emigrants from Kazakhstan were ethnic Russians). That % is still too low, but it's trending in the right direction (with a 40% increase from Ukraine). And it's certainly much better than Europe.

    And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.
     
    Syria has been a fantastic military success, far beyond what almost anyone predicted when it began, accomplished at a cost of less than 10% of the annual defense budget, and only about two regular military combat deaths per month. It has proven that Russia is not merely a "regional power" as Obama derisively claimed, but a great power capable of decisively intervening in a large-scale conflict far from its borders, in what was a essentially a proxy war with the United States. Russia could completely end its involvement there at any time, having already accomplished the initial goals of securing the Russian naval facility at Tartus and ensuring the survival of Assad's government.

    If you want to criticize Putin for something on foreign policy, do so where he deserves it, for his shameful weakness in Ukraine.
    , @Mao Cheng Ji

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation.
     
    Back in the US of A, the corrupt collusion between banksters, credit agencies, mortgage companies, and the government led, not so long ago, to a loss of 15-22 trillion dollars, by various estimates. Not to mention millions of people becoming homeless.

    Respected Mafia expert declares the UK "most corrupt country in the world" last year:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/roberto-saviano-britain-corrupt-mafia-hay-festival-a7054851.html

    Where's their anti-corruption activism? Why don't you concern-troll them?
    , @anon
    American hatred on Putin has nothing to do with corruption. Probably the United States even preferred an overtly corrupt Russian leader, such as, say, Yury Luzhkov, who could be bought to serve American interests.
    , @vinteuil
    "The economy was going to improve off it’s awful 90′s performance no matter what. "

    Really? No matter what?

    No matter what?

    And you know this how, exactly, you surprising man?
  7. @Greasy William
    So is Putin's popularity entirely based on standing up to the West and things being better than they were in the 90's?

    The economy was going to improve off it's awful 90's performance no matter what. Putin was just in the right place in the right time.

    He deserves credit, from a Russian perspective, for standing up to the West but that seems like a pretty weak reason to give him Saddam levels of approval.

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation. Russia ranks as the 131st most corrupt economy in the world, putting it in a tie with Iran and Sierre Leone. And not only is Putin not reducing corruption in Russia, it seems like he actually prefers a high level of corruption because it makes the country easier to rule.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims. And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Putin has been great for non Russian enemies of Globalism, but what has he done for Russians to make them love him so much?

    This topic of corruption in Russia is seriously overblown. Consider the fact that Transparency rating is basically a poll of “experts” with an axe to grind against Putin regime. It does not give the most accurate picture.

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine – that country has yet to catch up to late-Soviet level of output.

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    • Agree: Seamus Padraig
    • Replies: @AP

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine
     
    Saying that Putin is better than the world's most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn't mean much.

    What about the other post-Soviet neighbors?

    Russia's per capita GDP in 2000 was 19% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    Belarus' per capita GDP in 2000 was 22% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Kazakhstan's per capita GDP in 2000 was only 11.7% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Azerbaijan 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 12% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Georgia's 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 18% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    So in terms of per capita GDP, Putin has done a little better than did Lukashenko, a little worse than did Georgia's rulers, and much worse than did Kazakhstan's and Azerbaijan's rulers.

    To an extent we see that places with higher growth, having a lower base from which to grow. Estonia grew more slowly than did Russia from 2000 to 2015 (2000's per capita GDP was 27% of 2015's per capita GDP), but it started out with about double Russia's per capita GDP and ended with about double Russia's per capita GDP. But - nothing here indicates that Putin's rule in terms of economic growth per capita stands out above that of his neighbors' rulers, with the exception of Ukraine. There's nothing special about Russia's per capita growth under Putin.
  8. E says:
    @Greasy William
    So is Putin's popularity entirely based on standing up to the West and things being better than they were in the 90's?

    The economy was going to improve off it's awful 90's performance no matter what. Putin was just in the right place in the right time.

    He deserves credit, from a Russian perspective, for standing up to the West but that seems like a pretty weak reason to give him Saddam levels of approval.

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation. Russia ranks as the 131st most corrupt economy in the world, putting it in a tie with Iran and Sierre Leone. And not only is Putin not reducing corruption in Russia, it seems like he actually prefers a high level of corruption because it makes the country easier to rule.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims. And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Putin has been great for non Russian enemies of Globalism, but what has he done for Russians to make them love him so much?

    The general sense I got from people after visiting Russia in 2015 was that Putin is widely admired not JUST for a good economy and good management, but also for setting a positive example for young people. He’s serious, industrious, intelligent, leads a healthy lifestyle, doesn’t do drugs or alcohol (unlike Yeltsin). Russia as a whole tends to take on the character of its leaders to some extent, and I would say that this is definitely true of its last two. Many of Russia’s recent changes have not simply been because of a good economy, but because of non-economic societal decisions.

    I’ve been visiting Russia every 5 years or so since the 1990s, and things have really improved (in MOST areas) to a degree that’s hard to believe over the last decade. In 2015, I visited both big cities and provincial towns, in the north and south, over the course of around 2 months, staying with various friends and family or in youth hostels. In this visit, most places looked well-maintained, orderly, modern, rich in cultural and economic activity. Everybody had smartphones, just like in the West. It hardly looked like the same country.

    From my first-hand impressions, I would say with little hesitation that Russia is ALREADY a developed country, and in certain ways people live better than they do in Ontario, Canada, where I live (it depends on what priorities you have. For example, Russians seem far more likely to have good grocery stores within walking distance, to have good public transit, nearby forest trails, to dress better, and to have affordable high culture, but on the other hand live in smaller apartments, have a more privatized medical system).

    Most people in the West don’t yet realize this. Many Russian emigres, particularly, have never visited Russia since the Soviet era or the 1990s, and still think of it as run-down, poor and grey, things that are no longer true.

    We also shouldn’t forget, when comparing international statistics, that GDP/capita is in part a measurement of how financialized a society is. Some aspects of life in Russia take up significantly less of a typical paycheck than in the West (e.g. housing, according to some people I talked to there), with the result that its GDP/capita is lower, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that quality of life is also lower. The only surefire way to compare two places is to visit both, talk to people, see how they live.

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    • Agree: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @AP
    Most of what you write is accurate. One point, however:

    Putin is widely admired not JUST for a good economy and good management, but also for setting a positive example for young people.
     
    Dumping his wife and mother of two children (allegedly, for a young ex-gymnast); tolerating epic corruption among his close associates?

    He is no Yeltsin, of course, but is hardly some paragon of virtue. Not being drunk throughout his presidency is not a high bar to cross.
  9. anon says: • Disclaimer

    Sounds like a success for Navalny – so long as we don’t take seriously that he has a target audience amongst Russian voters. The Americans loved it.

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  10. @Anatoly Karlin
    Personally I have yet to see a single person performing a lezginka or anything of the sort in Moscow since coming here last December.

    I think it's one of those non-issues that people like to focus on to avoid more substantive problems and Navalny humors them with that because its irrelevant and he's a cheap populist.

    I get the sense that it was more of an epidemic around the time of his mayoral run. But yes, precisely. How is it compatible with supposedly being for rule of law and against arbitrary legislation? The thing is, while he might think he’s playing to both nationalists and liberals at once, in reality he’s just playing to people who call themselves liberals but would also really like to have some arbitrary legislation to redress their trivial sectional annoyances.

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  11. @Greasy William
    So is Putin's popularity entirely based on standing up to the West and things being better than they were in the 90's?

    The economy was going to improve off it's awful 90's performance no matter what. Putin was just in the right place in the right time.

    He deserves credit, from a Russian perspective, for standing up to the West but that seems like a pretty weak reason to give him Saddam levels of approval.

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation. Russia ranks as the 131st most corrupt economy in the world, putting it in a tie with Iran and Sierre Leone. And not only is Putin not reducing corruption in Russia, it seems like he actually prefers a high level of corruption because it makes the country easier to rule.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims. And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Putin has been great for non Russian enemies of Globalism, but what has he done for Russians to make them love him so much?

    Part of it is that, for someone more a part of the ruling establishment than Hillary Clinton, Putin is remarkably good at playing the populist “father of the people” card. He stands up to Americans, oligarchs and terrorists… far less than he could, but he makes it look like a lot. He Shows Up and Gets Things Done. Like so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjrlTMvirVo

    Of course, he does have real accomplishments to his credit. The economy would’ve probably improved and the crime wave would’ve probably died down under anyone halfway sensible, but he also conducted a variety of pro-majority social and economic policies that the author of this blog has doubtless described before. Some of it just amounted to bribing the populace, but some of it also genuinely helped increase the average life expectancy. Hard to hate the guy who gave you a few more years of life, which a social-darwinist globalist liberal (the only kind that’s allowed to thrive here, naturally) would not have done.

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  12. Jon0815 says:
    @Greasy William
    So is Putin's popularity entirely based on standing up to the West and things being better than they were in the 90's?

    The economy was going to improve off it's awful 90's performance no matter what. Putin was just in the right place in the right time.

    He deserves credit, from a Russian perspective, for standing up to the West but that seems like a pretty weak reason to give him Saddam levels of approval.

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation. Russia ranks as the 131st most corrupt economy in the world, putting it in a tie with Iran and Sierre Leone. And not only is Putin not reducing corruption in Russia, it seems like he actually prefers a high level of corruption because it makes the country easier to rule.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims. And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Putin has been great for non Russian enemies of Globalism, but what has he done for Russians to make them love him so much?

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims.

    That’s true when it comes to temporary migrants, but the number who become voting citizens (which is what really matters) is much smaller.

    In 2016, 70-75% of new Russian citizens were white Christians (about 50% were from Central Asia, but according to Kazakh government statistics, nearly all emigrants from Kazakhstan were ethnic Russians). That % is still too low, but it’s trending in the right direction (with a 40% increase from Ukraine). And it’s certainly much better than Europe.

    And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Syria has been a fantastic military success, far beyond what almost anyone predicted when it began, accomplished at a cost of less than 10% of the annual defense budget, and only about two regular military combat deaths per month. It has proven that Russia is not merely a “regional power” as Obama derisively claimed, but a great power capable of decisively intervening in a large-scale conflict far from its borders, in what was a essentially a proxy war with the United States. Russia could completely end its involvement there at any time, having already accomplished the initial goals of securing the Russian naval facility at Tartus and ensuring the survival of Assad’s government.

    If you want to criticize Putin for something on foreign policy, do so where he deserves it, for his shameful weakness in Ukraine.

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    • Replies: @AP

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims.

    That’s true when it comes to temporary migrants, but the number who become voting citizens (which is what really matters) is much smaller.
     

    Most of the Muslims in Europe, and all of the refugees, are not voting citizens. I wouldn't say that this means that they don't really matter.
  13. @Greasy William
    So is Putin's popularity entirely based on standing up to the West and things being better than they were in the 90's?

    The economy was going to improve off it's awful 90's performance no matter what. Putin was just in the right place in the right time.

    He deserves credit, from a Russian perspective, for standing up to the West but that seems like a pretty weak reason to give him Saddam levels of approval.

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation. Russia ranks as the 131st most corrupt economy in the world, putting it in a tie with Iran and Sierre Leone. And not only is Putin not reducing corruption in Russia, it seems like he actually prefers a high level of corruption because it makes the country easier to rule.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims. And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Putin has been great for non Russian enemies of Globalism, but what has he done for Russians to make them love him so much?

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation.

    Back in the US of A, the corrupt collusion between banksters, credit agencies, mortgage companies, and the government led, not so long ago, to a loss of 15-22 trillion dollars, by various estimates. Not to mention millions of people becoming homeless.

    Respected Mafia expert declares the UK “most corrupt country in the world” last year:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/roberto-saviano-britain-corrupt-mafia-hay-festival-a7054851.html

    Where’s their anti-corruption activism? Why don’t you concern-troll them?

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    • Replies: @Boris N

    Where’s their anti-corruption activism? Why don’t you concern-troll them?
     
    The answer: the MSM own the discourse.
  14. anon says: • Disclaimer
    @Greasy William
    So is Putin's popularity entirely based on standing up to the West and things being better than they were in the 90's?

    The economy was going to improve off it's awful 90's performance no matter what. Putin was just in the right place in the right time.

    He deserves credit, from a Russian perspective, for standing up to the West but that seems like a pretty weak reason to give him Saddam levels of approval.

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation. Russia ranks as the 131st most corrupt economy in the world, putting it in a tie with Iran and Sierre Leone. And not only is Putin not reducing corruption in Russia, it seems like he actually prefers a high level of corruption because it makes the country easier to rule.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims. And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Putin has been great for non Russian enemies of Globalism, but what has he done for Russians to make them love him so much?

    American hatred on Putin has nothing to do with corruption. Probably the United States even preferred an overtly corrupt Russian leader, such as, say, Yury Luzhkov, who could be bought to serve American interests.

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  15. AP says:
    @Jon0815

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims.
     
    That's true when it comes to temporary migrants, but the number who become voting citizens (which is what really matters) is much smaller.

    In 2016, 70-75% of new Russian citizens were white Christians (about 50% were from Central Asia, but according to Kazakh government statistics, nearly all emigrants from Kazakhstan were ethnic Russians). That % is still too low, but it's trending in the right direction (with a 40% increase from Ukraine). And it's certainly much better than Europe.

    And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.
     
    Syria has been a fantastic military success, far beyond what almost anyone predicted when it began, accomplished at a cost of less than 10% of the annual defense budget, and only about two regular military combat deaths per month. It has proven that Russia is not merely a "regional power" as Obama derisively claimed, but a great power capable of decisively intervening in a large-scale conflict far from its borders, in what was a essentially a proxy war with the United States. Russia could completely end its involvement there at any time, having already accomplished the initial goals of securing the Russian naval facility at Tartus and ensuring the survival of Assad's government.

    If you want to criticize Putin for something on foreign policy, do so where he deserves it, for his shameful weakness in Ukraine.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims.

    That’s true when it comes to temporary migrants, but the number who become voting citizens (which is what really matters) is much smaller.

    Most of the Muslims in Europe, and all of the refugees, are not voting citizens. I wouldn’t say that this means that they don’t really matter.

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    • Replies: @Jon0815

    Most of the Muslims in Europe, and all of the refugees, are not voting citizens.
     
    Maybe that's true of Muslims throughout the EU, but 60-70% of French Muslims are citizens, and in 2015 over 40% of German Muslims were, which would probably put the average of France and Germany- the EU's economic and political center- at around 50% or higher.

    I wouldn’t say that this means that they don’t really matter.
     
    Certainly they matter- mass Muslim migration would be a serious problem even if none of the migrants or their children became citizens- but they matter much less than those who vote.
  16. AP says:
    @E
    The general sense I got from people after visiting Russia in 2015 was that Putin is widely admired not JUST for a good economy and good management, but also for setting a positive example for young people. He's serious, industrious, intelligent, leads a healthy lifestyle, doesn't do drugs or alcohol (unlike Yeltsin). Russia as a whole tends to take on the character of its leaders to some extent, and I would say that this is definitely true of its last two. Many of Russia's recent changes have not simply been because of a good economy, but because of non-economic societal decisions.

    I've been visiting Russia every 5 years or so since the 1990s, and things have really improved (in MOST areas) to a degree that's hard to believe over the last decade. In 2015, I visited both big cities and provincial towns, in the north and south, over the course of around 2 months, staying with various friends and family or in youth hostels. In this visit, most places looked well-maintained, orderly, modern, rich in cultural and economic activity. Everybody had smartphones, just like in the West. It hardly looked like the same country.

    From my first-hand impressions, I would say with little hesitation that Russia is ALREADY a developed country, and in certain ways people live better than they do in Ontario, Canada, where I live (it depends on what priorities you have. For example, Russians seem far more likely to have good grocery stores within walking distance, to have good public transit, nearby forest trails, to dress better, and to have affordable high culture, but on the other hand live in smaller apartments, have a more privatized medical system).

    Most people in the West don't yet realize this. Many Russian emigres, particularly, have never visited Russia since the Soviet era or the 1990s, and still think of it as run-down, poor and grey, things that are no longer true.

    We also shouldn't forget, when comparing international statistics, that GDP/capita is in part a measurement of how financialized a society is. Some aspects of life in Russia take up significantly less of a typical paycheck than in the West (e.g. housing, according to some people I talked to there), with the result that its GDP/capita is lower, but it doesn't necessarily follow that quality of life is also lower. The only surefire way to compare two places is to visit both, talk to people, see how they live.

    Most of what you write is accurate. One point, however:

    Putin is widely admired not JUST for a good economy and good management, but also for setting a positive example for young people.

    Dumping his wife and mother of two children (allegedly, for a young ex-gymnast); tolerating epic corruption among his close associates?

    He is no Yeltsin, of course, but is hardly some paragon of virtue. Not being drunk throughout his presidency is not a high bar to cross.

    Read More
    • Agree: Mr. Hack
    • Replies: @Avery
    {Dumping his wife and mother of two children.....}

    His wife dumped him: not enough time in his busy schedule for her.
    Understandable.

    { (allegedly, for a young ex-gymnast)}

    Yeah, 'allegedly'.
    Any evidence other than the CIA planted fake stories and innuendos?
    , @Boris N

    Dumping his wife and mother of two children (allegedly, for a young ex-gymnast)
     
    And yet it is his former wife who has married for the second time a guy who is 20 years younger. So we may have had the entirely different picture than it has been being represented.

    tolerating epic corruption among his close associates?
     
    Hm... Hilary? Donald?

    Yes-yes, I know, Putin must be a bad guy but not for what he has allegedly been accused.
  17. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich
    This topic of corruption in Russia is seriously overblown. Consider the fact that Transparency rating is basically a poll of "experts" with an axe to grind against Putin regime. It does not give the most accurate picture.

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine - that country has yet to catch up to late-Soviet level of output.

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine

    Saying that Putin is better than the world’s most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn’t mean much.

    What about the other post-Soviet neighbors?

    Russia’s per capita GDP in 2000 was 19% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    Belarus’ per capita GDP in 2000 was 22% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Kazakhstan’s per capita GDP in 2000 was only 11.7% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Azerbaijan ‘s per capita GDP in 2000 was 12% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Georgia’s ‘s per capita GDP in 2000 was 18% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    So in terms of per capita GDP, Putin has done a little better than did Lukashenko, a little worse than did Georgia’s rulers, and much worse than did Kazakhstan’s and Azerbaijan’s rulers.

    To an extent we see that places with higher growth, having a lower base from which to grow. Estonia grew more slowly than did Russia from 2000 to 2015 (2000′s per capita GDP was 27% of 2015′s per capita GDP), but it started out with about double Russia’s per capita GDP and ended with about double Russia’s per capita GDP. But – nothing here indicates that Putin’s rule in terms of economic growth per capita stands out above that of his neighbors’ rulers, with the exception of Ukraine. There’s nothing special about Russia’s per capita growth under Putin.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    You don't compare Russia to Estonia and Georgia. lol You compare it to Ukraine, since it's the closest country to Russia in terms of demographics, culture, size and structure of the economy.

    There is no guarantee that leaders who will succeed Putin can at least maintain his level of economic competence. Remember, all these liberal intellectuals, who write Op-Eds in Vedomosti, saying that Putin doesn't do enough reform, many of them were in the government during the 90s. They drove the country to a default! (how do you make a country like Russia go broke - it takes a certain kind of "skill").
    , @Kimppis
    Wait, are you using nominal GDP? Why!? Estonia's GDP per capita isn't two times higher and never was. IIRC, Russian PPP GDP per capita is around $25K, vs. Estonia's 30K.

    Russian GDP per capita is still quite comparable to countries like Latvia, Hungary and Poland. As it should be. Russia also has a very high HDI (as of 2016). It was also a "high income country" (per the World Bank or IMF) before ruble's devaluation. So you can argue that Russia is indeed a developed country, it's debatable.

    Georgia is still a shithole (its actual economic growth has also been much less impressive in real terms, of course that is the case with every country listed, to some extent).

    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have a lot of oil per capita. Belarus' GDP per capita is not impressive, although of course much better than Ukraine's.

    So overall, the development of Russia has certainly been more or less impressive and it simply could not have been much faster or better. It being nothing particularly special in the region is not a problem, IMO.

    But seriously... nominal GDP is misleading for numerous reason, especially now, while the dollar is so strong and ruble has devalued so considerably. The current Russian nominal GDP does not correlate with its overall living standards at all, IMO.

    Long-term changes in nominal GDP don't measure economic growth per se, but largely the changes in exchange rate. According to nominal GDP figures, America's economic influence has massively grown and China's economy has not grown at all during the last few years (due to yuan's devaluation). Does any of that have much to do with reality? No. Exchange rates are really volatile in general at the moment. Also, a weak ruble is very much a part of the Russian economic strategy atleast until the early 2020s.

    , @E
    Some people who visit Georgia, though, seem to come back with the impression that they've gone back in time to 1990s Russia. For example (in Russian):
    http://новости-мира.ru-an.info/%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8/%D0%B2%D0%BF%D0%B5%D1%87%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B0-%D0%BE%D1%82-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B5%D0%B7%D0%B4%D0%BA%D0%B8-%D0%B2-%D0%B5%D0%B2%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%B5%D0%B9%D1%81%D0%BA%D1%83%D1%8E-%D0%B3%D1%80%D1%83%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%8E/

    As I said earlier, GDP/capita can be an important benchmark (though I agree with Kimppis, that it's less useful now that there's a certain economic and political war going on), but it's not the only one that matters. Georgia and the Baltic countries (less so Estonia, but definitely Latvia and Lithuania) are, for some reason, having much more difficulty keeping their population levels stable. Statistics can also mislead. They will tell you that Tajikistan's population has increased rapidly since 2000. They won't tell you that a huge portion of Tajikistan's male population doesn't actually live in the country, but goes to work in Russia, only coming home every few years or for holidays.

    , @Anatoly Karlin
    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan massively increased their oil production relative to Soviet levels, whereas Russia has never even matched RSFSR peak output. This must explain their GDP performance because institutions/reforms certainly don't (especially in Azerbaijan).

    Armenia did considerably better than Russia, but from a lower base.

    Georgia came from a lower base, but did far worse; it has yet to recover the (real) output of 1989. To be sure its 1990s were disastrous even by post-Soviet standards, but Saakashvili wasn't the miracle worker he is sometimes portrayed as.

    Belarus did about as well or slightly better than Russia. Ukraine did far worse, and continues to do so. Latvia did about as well as Russia, Lithuania slightly better.

    Estonia did a lot better than Russia. Rapid successful reforms, Finnish level IQ, and quick integration with the West. It is the only country in the ex-USSR to do greatly better than Russia without it being attributable to a big expansion in oil production, or starting from a much lower base.
    , @Johann Ricke

    Saying that Putin is better than the world’s most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn’t mean much.
     
    You've left out natural resource endowments. Russia is a major oil exporter. Oil went from marginally profitable in the high teens per barrel, when Putin took office, to $150 at its peak. Just how big a factor is oil wealth? If industrial lightweight Norway had no oil, it wouldn't have a nominal GDP per capita of $70K, about $20k higher than Sweden's. Putin isn't skilled - he's lucky.

    Just a couple of years ago, when oil was in the 80's, Norway's GDP per capita was $85K. If oil goes to $20 again, we'll see just how much of Russia's economy is dependent on oil exports. Note that much of its oil is just about break-even at that price.
  18. vinteuil says:
    @Greasy William
    So is Putin's popularity entirely based on standing up to the West and things being better than they were in the 90's?

    The economy was going to improve off it's awful 90's performance no matter what. Putin was just in the right place in the right time.

    He deserves credit, from a Russian perspective, for standing up to the West but that seems like a pretty weak reason to give him Saddam levels of approval.

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation. Russia ranks as the 131st most corrupt economy in the world, putting it in a tie with Iran and Sierre Leone. And not only is Putin not reducing corruption in Russia, it seems like he actually prefers a high level of corruption because it makes the country easier to rule.

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims. And he has brought Russia into a war with no exit strategy in Syria.

    Putin has been great for non Russian enemies of Globalism, but what has he done for Russians to make them love him so much?

    “The economy was going to improve off it’s awful 90′s performance no matter what. ”

    Really? No matter what?

    No matter what?

    And you know this how, exactly, you surprising man?

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    The economy was going to improve off it’s awful 90′s performance no matter what. ”

    Really? No matter what?

    No matter what?

    And you know this how, exactly, you surprising man?
     
    Even Ukraine managed to improve since the mid-1990s.
  19. @AP

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine
     
    Saying that Putin is better than the world's most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn't mean much.

    What about the other post-Soviet neighbors?

    Russia's per capita GDP in 2000 was 19% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    Belarus' per capita GDP in 2000 was 22% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Kazakhstan's per capita GDP in 2000 was only 11.7% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Azerbaijan 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 12% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Georgia's 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 18% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    So in terms of per capita GDP, Putin has done a little better than did Lukashenko, a little worse than did Georgia's rulers, and much worse than did Kazakhstan's and Azerbaijan's rulers.

    To an extent we see that places with higher growth, having a lower base from which to grow. Estonia grew more slowly than did Russia from 2000 to 2015 (2000's per capita GDP was 27% of 2015's per capita GDP), but it started out with about double Russia's per capita GDP and ended with about double Russia's per capita GDP. But - nothing here indicates that Putin's rule in terms of economic growth per capita stands out above that of his neighbors' rulers, with the exception of Ukraine. There's nothing special about Russia's per capita growth under Putin.

    You don’t compare Russia to Estonia and Georgia. lol You compare it to Ukraine, since it’s the closest country to Russia in terms of demographics, culture, size and structure of the economy.

    There is no guarantee that leaders who will succeed Putin can at least maintain his level of economic competence. Remember, all these liberal intellectuals, who write Op-Eds in Vedomosti, saying that Putin doesn’t do enough reform, many of them were in the government during the 90s. They drove the country to a default! (how do you make a country like Russia go broke – it takes a certain kind of “skill”).

    Read More
  20. Jon0815 says:
    @AP

    And he continues to flood the country with Muslims.

    That’s true when it comes to temporary migrants, but the number who become voting citizens (which is what really matters) is much smaller.
     

    Most of the Muslims in Europe, and all of the refugees, are not voting citizens. I wouldn't say that this means that they don't really matter.

    Most of the Muslims in Europe, and all of the refugees, are not voting citizens.

    Maybe that’s true of Muslims throughout the EU, but 60-70% of French Muslims are citizens, and in 2015 over 40% of German Muslims were, which would probably put the average of France and Germany- the EU’s economic and political center- at around 50% or higher.

    I wouldn’t say that this means that they don’t really matter.

    Certainly they matter- mass Muslim migration would be a serious problem even if none of the migrants or their children became citizens- but they matter much less than those who vote.

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  21. Kimppis says:
    @AP

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine
     
    Saying that Putin is better than the world's most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn't mean much.

    What about the other post-Soviet neighbors?

    Russia's per capita GDP in 2000 was 19% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    Belarus' per capita GDP in 2000 was 22% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Kazakhstan's per capita GDP in 2000 was only 11.7% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Azerbaijan 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 12% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Georgia's 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 18% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    So in terms of per capita GDP, Putin has done a little better than did Lukashenko, a little worse than did Georgia's rulers, and much worse than did Kazakhstan's and Azerbaijan's rulers.

    To an extent we see that places with higher growth, having a lower base from which to grow. Estonia grew more slowly than did Russia from 2000 to 2015 (2000's per capita GDP was 27% of 2015's per capita GDP), but it started out with about double Russia's per capita GDP and ended with about double Russia's per capita GDP. But - nothing here indicates that Putin's rule in terms of economic growth per capita stands out above that of his neighbors' rulers, with the exception of Ukraine. There's nothing special about Russia's per capita growth under Putin.

    Wait, are you using nominal GDP? Why!? Estonia’s GDP per capita isn’t two times higher and never was. IIRC, Russian PPP GDP per capita is around $25K, vs. Estonia’s 30K.

    Russian GDP per capita is still quite comparable to countries like Latvia, Hungary and Poland. As it should be. Russia also has a very high HDI (as of 2016). It was also a “high income country” (per the World Bank or IMF) before ruble’s devaluation. So you can argue that Russia is indeed a developed country, it’s debatable.

    Georgia is still a shithole (its actual economic growth has also been much less impressive in real terms, of course that is the case with every country listed, to some extent).

    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have a lot of oil per capita. Belarus’ GDP per capita is not impressive, although of course much better than Ukraine’s.

    So overall, the development of Russia has certainly been more or less impressive and it simply could not have been much faster or better. It being nothing particularly special in the region is not a problem, IMO.

    But seriously… nominal GDP is misleading for numerous reason, especially now, while the dollar is so strong and ruble has devalued so considerably. The current Russian nominal GDP does not correlate with its overall living standards at all, IMO.

    Long-term changes in nominal GDP don’t measure economic growth per se, but largely the changes in exchange rate. According to nominal GDP figures, America’s economic influence has massively grown and China’s economy has not grown at all during the last few years (due to yuan’s devaluation). Does any of that have much to do with reality? No. Exchange rates are really volatile in general at the moment. Also, a weak ruble is very much a part of the Russian economic strategy atleast until the early 2020s.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    Wait, are you using nominal GDP? Why!?
     
    Admittedly, time constraints. I was busy, and nominal came up first.

    Russia actually performs worse in comparison to its neighbors when one looks at GDP PPP vs. nominal GDP.

    Trading Economics posts data for GDP PPP across time.

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.
    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was about $3,800 in 2000, $9,000 in 2015. 237% increase.
    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was about $7,200 in 2000, $16,800 in 2015. 233% increase.
    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was about $10,000 in 2000, $23,500 in 2015. 235% increase.
    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was about $4,500 in 2000, about $7,500 in 2015. 166% increase.

    Looks like if we consider GDP PPP Putin showed dramatic growth in his country yet underperformed all his neighbors other than Ukraine. Actually, while Ukraine was a lot poorer than Russia in 2000 and remained so in 2015, it didn't grow much slower than did Russia, in terms of GDP PPP.


    So overall, the development of Russia has certainly been more or less impressive and it simply could not have been much faster or better. It being nothing particularly special in the region is not a problem, IMO.
     
    It's not a problem at all. It's a good thing. But given that it has improved at about the same rate in nomnal GDP and lower rate in GDP PPP as everyone else, other than the Ukrainian outlier, contradicts the "Putin superhuman savior" narrative that his fanboys support. Russia under Putin has been no more nor less than an average post-Commie country.
  22. In 1999 the median wage in Russia was ~$70/month. And the raise of median wage – ten-fold in ten years – came with unbelievably dramatic improvement in every possible social and economic index: longevity, crime, drug use, suicide, birth rate, disposable income, international standing – everything. With no outside help. It’s like a fairy tale.

    Read More
  23. E says:
    @AP

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine
     
    Saying that Putin is better than the world's most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn't mean much.

    What about the other post-Soviet neighbors?

    Russia's per capita GDP in 2000 was 19% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    Belarus' per capita GDP in 2000 was 22% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Kazakhstan's per capita GDP in 2000 was only 11.7% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Azerbaijan 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 12% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Georgia's 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 18% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    So in terms of per capita GDP, Putin has done a little better than did Lukashenko, a little worse than did Georgia's rulers, and much worse than did Kazakhstan's and Azerbaijan's rulers.

    To an extent we see that places with higher growth, having a lower base from which to grow. Estonia grew more slowly than did Russia from 2000 to 2015 (2000's per capita GDP was 27% of 2015's per capita GDP), but it started out with about double Russia's per capita GDP and ended with about double Russia's per capita GDP. But - nothing here indicates that Putin's rule in terms of economic growth per capita stands out above that of his neighbors' rulers, with the exception of Ukraine. There's nothing special about Russia's per capita growth under Putin.

    Some people who visit Georgia, though, seem to come back with the impression that they’ve gone back in time to 1990s Russia. For example (in Russian):

    http://новости-мира.ru-an.info/%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8/%D0%B2%D0%BF%D0%B5%D1%87%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B0-%D0%BE%D1%82-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B5%D0%B7%D0%B4%D0%BA%D0%B8-%D0%B2-%D0%B5%D0%B2%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%B5%D0%B9%D1%81%D0%BA%D1%83%D1%8E-%D0%B3%D1%80%D1%83%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%8E/

    As I said earlier, GDP/capita can be an important benchmark (though I agree with Kimppis, that it’s less useful now that there’s a certain economic and political war going on), but it’s not the only one that matters. Georgia and the Baltic countries (less so Estonia, but definitely Latvia and Lithuania) are, for some reason, having much more difficulty keeping their population levels stable. Statistics can also mislead. They will tell you that Tajikistan’s population has increased rapidly since 2000. They won’t tell you that a huge portion of Tajikistan’s male population doesn’t actually live in the country, but goes to work in Russia, only coming home every few years or for holidays.

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    • Replies: @AP

    Some people who visit Georgia, though, seem to come back with the impression that they’ve gone back in time to 1990s Russia.
     
    The blog you linked to described the Old Town, a neighborhood famous for having (so far) avoided the massive redevelopment elsewhere. It's like going to New York and making a blog post centered in ungentrified parts of Harlem, to describe how bad the city is.

    It was just anecdotes. I know a few people from Poland who visited Georgia and were very impressed.

    Here's a reprint of a recent Wall Street Journal article about Tbilisi, noting how the city has changed and developed.

    The GDP growth data speak for themselves.
  24. @AP

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine
     
    Saying that Putin is better than the world's most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn't mean much.

    What about the other post-Soviet neighbors?

    Russia's per capita GDP in 2000 was 19% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    Belarus' per capita GDP in 2000 was 22% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Kazakhstan's per capita GDP in 2000 was only 11.7% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Azerbaijan 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 12% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Georgia's 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 18% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    So in terms of per capita GDP, Putin has done a little better than did Lukashenko, a little worse than did Georgia's rulers, and much worse than did Kazakhstan's and Azerbaijan's rulers.

    To an extent we see that places with higher growth, having a lower base from which to grow. Estonia grew more slowly than did Russia from 2000 to 2015 (2000's per capita GDP was 27% of 2015's per capita GDP), but it started out with about double Russia's per capita GDP and ended with about double Russia's per capita GDP. But - nothing here indicates that Putin's rule in terms of economic growth per capita stands out above that of his neighbors' rulers, with the exception of Ukraine. There's nothing special about Russia's per capita growth under Putin.

    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan massively increased their oil production relative to Soviet levels, whereas Russia has never even matched RSFSR peak output. This must explain their GDP performance because institutions/reforms certainly don’t (especially in Azerbaijan).

    Armenia did considerably better than Russia, but from a lower base.

    Georgia came from a lower base, but did far worse; it has yet to recover the (real) output of 1989. To be sure its 1990s were disastrous even by post-Soviet standards, but Saakashvili wasn’t the miracle worker he is sometimes portrayed as.

    Belarus did about as well or slightly better than Russia. Ukraine did far worse, and continues to do so. Latvia did about as well as Russia, Lithuania slightly better.

    Estonia did a lot better than Russia. Rapid successful reforms, Finnish level IQ, and quick integration with the West. It is the only country in the ex-USSR to do greatly better than Russia without it being attributable to a big expansion in oil production, or starting from a much lower base.

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    • Replies: @AP

    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan massively increased their oil production relative to Soviet levels, whereas Russia has never even matched RSFSR peak output. This must explain their GDP performance because institutions/reforms certainly don’t (especially in Azerbaijan).
     
    The oil price decline by 2015 would have removed a considerable percentage of the oil advantage, however, showing a more fair comparison in terms of governance, than if we had made the comparisons in 2013.


    Georgia came from a lower base, but did far worse; it has yet to recover the (real) output of 1989.
     
    I was comparing changes from 2000, when Putin came to power. Georgia's per capita GDP grew slightly more than did Russia's, by percentage, though it started far behind and remains far behind.

    Basically Russia did about as well as everyone else. Nothing special about its performance under Putin. The outliers are Ukraine (doing spectacularly worse) and Kazakhstan (doing much better).
    , @Boris N

    Belarus did about as well or slightly better than Russia.
     
    Not true, if we consider regional GDP. I once explained that.
  25. @AP

    And Putin does deserve credit for economy management, especially when you compare it to what happened in the Ukraine
     
    Saying that Putin is better than the world's most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn't mean much.

    What about the other post-Soviet neighbors?

    Russia's per capita GDP in 2000 was 19% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    Belarus' per capita GDP in 2000 was 22% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Kazakhstan's per capita GDP in 2000 was only 11.7% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Azerbaijan 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 12% of its per capita GDP in 2015.
    Georgia's 's per capita GDP in 2000 was 18% of its per capita GDP in 2015.

    So in terms of per capita GDP, Putin has done a little better than did Lukashenko, a little worse than did Georgia's rulers, and much worse than did Kazakhstan's and Azerbaijan's rulers.

    To an extent we see that places with higher growth, having a lower base from which to grow. Estonia grew more slowly than did Russia from 2000 to 2015 (2000's per capita GDP was 27% of 2015's per capita GDP), but it started out with about double Russia's per capita GDP and ended with about double Russia's per capita GDP. But - nothing here indicates that Putin's rule in terms of economic growth per capita stands out above that of his neighbors' rulers, with the exception of Ukraine. There's nothing special about Russia's per capita growth under Putin.

    Saying that Putin is better than the world’s most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn’t mean much.

    You’ve left out natural resource endowments. Russia is a major oil exporter. Oil went from marginally profitable in the high teens per barrel, when Putin took office, to $150 at its peak. Just how big a factor is oil wealth? If industrial lightweight Norway had no oil, it wouldn’t have a nominal GDP per capita of $70K, about $20k higher than Sweden’s. Putin isn’t skilled – he’s lucky.

    Just a couple of years ago, when oil was in the 80′s, Norway’s GDP per capita was $85K. If oil goes to $20 again, we’ll see just how much of Russia’s economy is dependent on oil exports. Note that much of its oil is just about break-even at that price.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    But think of it this way: while Putin may not be responsible for higher oil prices, it was Putin who insured that Russia's oil wealth benefits the country as a whole, and not just a select group of oligarhs.

    When Putin took office oil industry was concentrated in the hands of Jewish oligarhs, who paid little or no taxes. One of Putin's major achievements was bringing oligarhs in line. He forced them to pay taxes for the first time in post-Soviet history. If Putin never happened, it is possible that Russian people would see very little of these oil profits, but Khodorkovsky would stash hundreds of billions in his offshore bank accounts.
  26. AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan massively increased their oil production relative to Soviet levels, whereas Russia has never even matched RSFSR peak output. This must explain their GDP performance because institutions/reforms certainly don't (especially in Azerbaijan).

    Armenia did considerably better than Russia, but from a lower base.

    Georgia came from a lower base, but did far worse; it has yet to recover the (real) output of 1989. To be sure its 1990s were disastrous even by post-Soviet standards, but Saakashvili wasn't the miracle worker he is sometimes portrayed as.

    Belarus did about as well or slightly better than Russia. Ukraine did far worse, and continues to do so. Latvia did about as well as Russia, Lithuania slightly better.

    Estonia did a lot better than Russia. Rapid successful reforms, Finnish level IQ, and quick integration with the West. It is the only country in the ex-USSR to do greatly better than Russia without it being attributable to a big expansion in oil production, or starting from a much lower base.

    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan massively increased their oil production relative to Soviet levels, whereas Russia has never even matched RSFSR peak output. This must explain their GDP performance because institutions/reforms certainly don’t (especially in Azerbaijan).

    The oil price decline by 2015 would have removed a considerable percentage of the oil advantage, however, showing a more fair comparison in terms of governance, than if we had made the comparisons in 2013.

    Georgia came from a lower base, but did far worse; it has yet to recover the (real) output of 1989.

    I was comparing changes from 2000, when Putin came to power. Georgia’s per capita GDP grew slightly more than did Russia’s, by percentage, though it started far behind and remains far behind.

    Basically Russia did about as well as everyone else. Nothing special about its performance under Putin. The outliers are Ukraine (doing spectacularly worse) and Kazakhstan (doing much better).

    Read More
  27. AP says:
    @E
    Some people who visit Georgia, though, seem to come back with the impression that they've gone back in time to 1990s Russia. For example (in Russian):
    http://новости-мира.ru-an.info/%D0%BD%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B8/%D0%B2%D0%BF%D0%B5%D1%87%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D0%BC%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87%D0%B0-%D0%BE%D1%82-%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B5%D0%B7%D0%B4%D0%BA%D0%B8-%D0%B2-%D0%B5%D0%B2%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%BF%D0%B5%D0%B9%D1%81%D0%BA%D1%83%D1%8E-%D0%B3%D1%80%D1%83%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%8E/

    As I said earlier, GDP/capita can be an important benchmark (though I agree with Kimppis, that it's less useful now that there's a certain economic and political war going on), but it's not the only one that matters. Georgia and the Baltic countries (less so Estonia, but definitely Latvia and Lithuania) are, for some reason, having much more difficulty keeping their population levels stable. Statistics can also mislead. They will tell you that Tajikistan's population has increased rapidly since 2000. They won't tell you that a huge portion of Tajikistan's male population doesn't actually live in the country, but goes to work in Russia, only coming home every few years or for holidays.

    Some people who visit Georgia, though, seem to come back with the impression that they’ve gone back in time to 1990s Russia.

    The blog you linked to described the Old Town, a neighborhood famous for having (so far) avoided the massive redevelopment elsewhere. It’s like going to New York and making a blog post centered in ungentrified parts of Harlem, to describe how bad the city is.

    It was just anecdotes. I know a few people from Poland who visited Georgia and were very impressed.

    Here’s a reprint of a recent Wall Street Journal article about Tbilisi, noting how the city has changed and developed.

    The GDP growth data speak for themselves.

    Read More
  28. AP says:
    @Kimppis
    Wait, are you using nominal GDP? Why!? Estonia's GDP per capita isn't two times higher and never was. IIRC, Russian PPP GDP per capita is around $25K, vs. Estonia's 30K.

    Russian GDP per capita is still quite comparable to countries like Latvia, Hungary and Poland. As it should be. Russia also has a very high HDI (as of 2016). It was also a "high income country" (per the World Bank or IMF) before ruble's devaluation. So you can argue that Russia is indeed a developed country, it's debatable.

    Georgia is still a shithole (its actual economic growth has also been much less impressive in real terms, of course that is the case with every country listed, to some extent).

    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan have a lot of oil per capita. Belarus' GDP per capita is not impressive, although of course much better than Ukraine's.

    So overall, the development of Russia has certainly been more or less impressive and it simply could not have been much faster or better. It being nothing particularly special in the region is not a problem, IMO.

    But seriously... nominal GDP is misleading for numerous reason, especially now, while the dollar is so strong and ruble has devalued so considerably. The current Russian nominal GDP does not correlate with its overall living standards at all, IMO.

    Long-term changes in nominal GDP don't measure economic growth per se, but largely the changes in exchange rate. According to nominal GDP figures, America's economic influence has massively grown and China's economy has not grown at all during the last few years (due to yuan's devaluation). Does any of that have much to do with reality? No. Exchange rates are really volatile in general at the moment. Also, a weak ruble is very much a part of the Russian economic strategy atleast until the early 2020s.

    Wait, are you using nominal GDP? Why!?

    Admittedly, time constraints. I was busy, and nominal came up first.

    Russia actually performs worse in comparison to its neighbors when one looks at GDP PPP vs. nominal GDP.

    Trading Economics posts data for GDP PPP across time.

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.
    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was about $3,800 in 2000, $9,000 in 2015. 237% increase.
    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was about $7,200 in 2000, $16,800 in 2015. 233% increase.
    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was about $10,000 in 2000, $23,500 in 2015. 235% increase.
    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was about $4,500 in 2000, about $7,500 in 2015. 166% increase.

    Looks like if we consider GDP PPP Putin showed dramatic growth in his country yet underperformed all his neighbors other than Ukraine. Actually, while Ukraine was a lot poorer than Russia in 2000 and remained so in 2015, it didn’t grow much slower than did Russia, in terms of GDP PPP.

    So overall, the development of Russia has certainly been more or less impressive and it simply could not have been much faster or better. It being nothing particularly special in the region is not a problem, IMO.

    It’s not a problem at all. It’s a good thing. But given that it has improved at about the same rate in nomnal GDP and lower rate in GDP PPP as everyone else, other than the Ukrainian outlier, contradicts the “Putin superhuman savior” narrative that his fanboys support. Russia under Putin has been no more nor less than an average post-Commie country.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Kimppis
    Interesting, I didn't know that Georgia and Ukraine were that poor in 2000. I also thought that Belarus was a lot closer to Russia and Kazakhstan much poorer (in 2000). The differences between Soviet republics were that huge? But yeah, that's why they "should" have grown MUCH faster than Russia, which was already quite developed. That is stagnation, basically. Well, in any case, Russia has been a success since 2000, nothing more, nothing less, it seems we agree on that.
    , @Jon0815

    Trading Economics posts data for GDP PPP across time.

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.
    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was about $3,800 in 2000, $9,000 in 2015. 237% increase.
    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was about $7,200 in 2000, $16,800 in 2015. 233% increase.
    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was about $10,000 in 2000, $23,500 in 2015. 235% increase.
    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was about $4,500 in 2000, about $7,500 in 2015. 166% increase.
     
    The World Bank has quite different GDP PPP estimates:

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was $7844 in 1991, $6825 in 2000, and $25186 in 2015 (3.7 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was $4194 in 1991, $2590 in 2000, and $9599 in 2015 (3.7 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was $5331 in 1991, $5800 in 2000, and $17740 in 2015 (3.0 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was $7708 in 1991, $7887 in 2000, and $25044 in 2015 (3.2 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was $6387 in 1991, $3802 in 2000, and $7939 in 2015 (2.1 x increase from 2000-2015).

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD
    , @Bill Jones
    Your numbers are wrong

    "Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase."

    It's an increase of 71% not 171%

    etc etc....
  29. AP says:
    @vinteuil
    "The economy was going to improve off it’s awful 90′s performance no matter what. "

    Really? No matter what?

    No matter what?

    And you know this how, exactly, you surprising man?

    The economy was going to improve off it’s awful 90′s performance no matter what. ”

    Really? No matter what?

    No matter what?

    And you know this how, exactly, you surprising man?

    Even Ukraine managed to improve since the mid-1990s.

    Read More
  30. Kimppis says:
    @AP

    Wait, are you using nominal GDP? Why!?
     
    Admittedly, time constraints. I was busy, and nominal came up first.

    Russia actually performs worse in comparison to its neighbors when one looks at GDP PPP vs. nominal GDP.

    Trading Economics posts data for GDP PPP across time.

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.
    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was about $3,800 in 2000, $9,000 in 2015. 237% increase.
    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was about $7,200 in 2000, $16,800 in 2015. 233% increase.
    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was about $10,000 in 2000, $23,500 in 2015. 235% increase.
    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was about $4,500 in 2000, about $7,500 in 2015. 166% increase.

    Looks like if we consider GDP PPP Putin showed dramatic growth in his country yet underperformed all his neighbors other than Ukraine. Actually, while Ukraine was a lot poorer than Russia in 2000 and remained so in 2015, it didn't grow much slower than did Russia, in terms of GDP PPP.


    So overall, the development of Russia has certainly been more or less impressive and it simply could not have been much faster or better. It being nothing particularly special in the region is not a problem, IMO.
     
    It's not a problem at all. It's a good thing. But given that it has improved at about the same rate in nomnal GDP and lower rate in GDP PPP as everyone else, other than the Ukrainian outlier, contradicts the "Putin superhuman savior" narrative that his fanboys support. Russia under Putin has been no more nor less than an average post-Commie country.

    Interesting, I didn’t know that Georgia and Ukraine were that poor in 2000. I also thought that Belarus was a lot closer to Russia and Kazakhstan much poorer (in 2000). The differences between Soviet republics were that huge? But yeah, that’s why they “should” have grown MUCH faster than Russia, which was already quite developed. That is stagnation, basically. Well, in any case, Russia has been a success since 2000, nothing more, nothing less, it seems we agree on that.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JL
    These straight up GDP comparisons between former Soviet republics are highly problematic because they don't take into account a number of factors, such as the interconnectedness of the economies due to them being one country for however many years. Russia sent massive subsidies to many of the former republics, especially Ukraine and Belarus, mostly in the form of discounted natural gas prices. It also assumed the entire debt load of the Soviet Union after its collapse via the Paris Club. Some of the former republics were subsidized by the EU and/or US. And so on.
  31. JL says:
    @Kimppis
    Interesting, I didn't know that Georgia and Ukraine were that poor in 2000. I also thought that Belarus was a lot closer to Russia and Kazakhstan much poorer (in 2000). The differences between Soviet republics were that huge? But yeah, that's why they "should" have grown MUCH faster than Russia, which was already quite developed. That is stagnation, basically. Well, in any case, Russia has been a success since 2000, nothing more, nothing less, it seems we agree on that.

    These straight up GDP comparisons between former Soviet republics are highly problematic because they don’t take into account a number of factors, such as the interconnectedness of the economies due to them being one country for however many years. Russia sent massive subsidies to many of the former republics, especially Ukraine and Belarus, mostly in the form of discounted natural gas prices. It also assumed the entire debt load of the Soviet Union after its collapse via the Paris Club. Some of the former republics were subsidized by the EU and/or US. And so on.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    These straight up GDP comparisons between former Soviet republics are highly problematic because they don’t take into account a number of factors, such as the interconnectedness of the economies due to them being one country for however many years
     
    .

    Sure. By virtue of its smaller size, Ukraine was more dependent on Russia than vice versa, making it more difficult for it to adjust to a cutoff. If 70% of something is produced in one country and 30% in another, it's easier for the country with 70% production on its territory to compensate. This probably in part accounts for Ukraine's poorer post-Soviet performance, though the problem is still primarily the nonstop, relentless looting by a at-best semi-national Sovok elite with little to no loyalty to the actual country (or to any country, for that matter).

    Russia sent massive subsidies to many of the former republics, especially Ukraine and Belarus, mostly in the form of discounted natural gas prices.
     
    In fairness, Ukraine historically had a critical role in the gas industry (at some early point it produced more gas than did Russia); as a result its experts played an outsized role in developing Russia's gas industry (one of the highest % of ethnic Ukrainians in Russia is in the gas-producing parts of Siberia). When everything was "nationalized" after the USSR broke up this simply became Russian although in some ways it would be fairer for Ukraine to have been given a stake in Gazprom given Ukraine's role in its development. Post-Soviet subsidies could be thought of as a form of payback, not as a simple gift (or theft by Ukrainians).

    It also assumed the entire debt load of the Soviet Union after its collapse via the Paris Club.
     
    It also got all the assets.
  32. Jon0815 says:
    @AP

    Wait, are you using nominal GDP? Why!?
     
    Admittedly, time constraints. I was busy, and nominal came up first.

    Russia actually performs worse in comparison to its neighbors when one looks at GDP PPP vs. nominal GDP.

    Trading Economics posts data for GDP PPP across time.

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.
    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was about $3,800 in 2000, $9,000 in 2015. 237% increase.
    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was about $7,200 in 2000, $16,800 in 2015. 233% increase.
    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was about $10,000 in 2000, $23,500 in 2015. 235% increase.
    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was about $4,500 in 2000, about $7,500 in 2015. 166% increase.

    Looks like if we consider GDP PPP Putin showed dramatic growth in his country yet underperformed all his neighbors other than Ukraine. Actually, while Ukraine was a lot poorer than Russia in 2000 and remained so in 2015, it didn't grow much slower than did Russia, in terms of GDP PPP.


    So overall, the development of Russia has certainly been more or less impressive and it simply could not have been much faster or better. It being nothing particularly special in the region is not a problem, IMO.
     
    It's not a problem at all. It's a good thing. But given that it has improved at about the same rate in nomnal GDP and lower rate in GDP PPP as everyone else, other than the Ukrainian outlier, contradicts the "Putin superhuman savior" narrative that his fanboys support. Russia under Putin has been no more nor less than an average post-Commie country.

    Trading Economics posts data for GDP PPP across time.

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.
    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was about $3,800 in 2000, $9,000 in 2015. 237% increase.
    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was about $7,200 in 2000, $16,800 in 2015. 233% increase.
    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was about $10,000 in 2000, $23,500 in 2015. 235% increase.
    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was about $4,500 in 2000, about $7,500 in 2015. 166% increase.

    The World Bank has quite different GDP PPP estimates:

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was $7844 in 1991, $6825 in 2000, and $25186 in 2015 (3.7 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was $4194 in 1991, $2590 in 2000, and $9599 in 2015 (3.7 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was $5331 in 1991, $5800 in 2000, and $17740 in 2015 (3.0 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was $7708 in 1991, $7887 in 2000, and $25044 in 2015 (3.2 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was $6387 in 1991, $3802 in 2000, and $7939 in 2015 (2.1 x increase from 2000-2015).

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD

    Read More
    • Replies: @Hairway To Steven
    When someone stoops to using PPP, they've already lost the argument. Per capita GDP is $8,929 (IMF figure). That positions Russia at number 67, one spot below that economic juggernaut Venezuela. This, despite having the greatest natural resources of any country on earth. What could possibly account for a botch of this magnitude? How about a failure of national culture?
  33. @Johann Ricke

    Saying that Putin is better than the world’s most skilled kleptocratic rulers doesn’t mean much.
     
    You've left out natural resource endowments. Russia is a major oil exporter. Oil went from marginally profitable in the high teens per barrel, when Putin took office, to $150 at its peak. Just how big a factor is oil wealth? If industrial lightweight Norway had no oil, it wouldn't have a nominal GDP per capita of $70K, about $20k higher than Sweden's. Putin isn't skilled - he's lucky.

    Just a couple of years ago, when oil was in the 80's, Norway's GDP per capita was $85K. If oil goes to $20 again, we'll see just how much of Russia's economy is dependent on oil exports. Note that much of its oil is just about break-even at that price.

    But think of it this way: while Putin may not be responsible for higher oil prices, it was Putin who insured that Russia’s oil wealth benefits the country as a whole, and not just a select group of oligarhs.

    When Putin took office oil industry was concentrated in the hands of Jewish oligarhs, who paid little or no taxes. One of Putin’s major achievements was bringing oligarhs in line. He forced them to pay taxes for the first time in post-Soviet history. If Putin never happened, it is possible that Russian people would see very little of these oil profits, but Khodorkovsky would stash hundreds of billions in his offshore bank accounts.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP
    Your argument reminds me of this classic routine by Chris Rock:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0B_ekSrsEk

    You're supposed to have some profits go back to the country via taxes. Normal countries do this. Doing it doesn't make one brilliant or incredibly humanitarian.

  34. AP says:
    @JL
    These straight up GDP comparisons between former Soviet republics are highly problematic because they don't take into account a number of factors, such as the interconnectedness of the economies due to them being one country for however many years. Russia sent massive subsidies to many of the former republics, especially Ukraine and Belarus, mostly in the form of discounted natural gas prices. It also assumed the entire debt load of the Soviet Union after its collapse via the Paris Club. Some of the former republics were subsidized by the EU and/or US. And so on.

    These straight up GDP comparisons between former Soviet republics are highly problematic because they don’t take into account a number of factors, such as the interconnectedness of the economies due to them being one country for however many years

    .

    Sure. By virtue of its smaller size, Ukraine was more dependent on Russia than vice versa, making it more difficult for it to adjust to a cutoff. If 70% of something is produced in one country and 30% in another, it’s easier for the country with 70% production on its territory to compensate. This probably in part accounts for Ukraine’s poorer post-Soviet performance, though the problem is still primarily the nonstop, relentless looting by a at-best semi-national Sovok elite with little to no loyalty to the actual country (or to any country, for that matter).

    Russia sent massive subsidies to many of the former republics, especially Ukraine and Belarus, mostly in the form of discounted natural gas prices.

    In fairness, Ukraine historically had a critical role in the gas industry (at some early point it produced more gas than did Russia); as a result its experts played an outsized role in developing Russia’s gas industry (one of the highest % of ethnic Ukrainians in Russia is in the gas-producing parts of Siberia). When everything was “nationalized” after the USSR broke up this simply became Russian although in some ways it would be fairer for Ukraine to have been given a stake in Gazprom given Ukraine’s role in its development. Post-Soviet subsidies could be thought of as a form of payback, not as a simple gift (or theft by Ukrainians).

    It also assumed the entire debt load of the Soviet Union after its collapse via the Paris Club.

    It also got all the assets.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich

    Post-Soviet subsidies could be thought of as a form of payback, not as a simple gift (or theft by Ukrainians).
     
    LMAO Energy subsidies was a strategy to buy loyalty of post-Soviet states. It failed, and your thinking shows why: once you start subsidizing the moochers, and eventually they'll take it for granted.
    , @JL
    I didn't mean to make this into a partisan issue, nor to suggest that the disadvantages only went one way, despite the examples I listed. Endless arguments could be made about what's fair, but it's pretty irrelevant now anyway, the chips fell where they did. My point was simply that GDP comparisons between former Soviet Republics were oversimplified.

    One thing, though:

    It also got all the assets.
     
    How do you figure? Each republic ended up with pretty much whatever was on their territory, save for some specific instances involving nuclear weapons and other high tech military hardware.
  35. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich
    But think of it this way: while Putin may not be responsible for higher oil prices, it was Putin who insured that Russia's oil wealth benefits the country as a whole, and not just a select group of oligarhs.

    When Putin took office oil industry was concentrated in the hands of Jewish oligarhs, who paid little or no taxes. One of Putin's major achievements was bringing oligarhs in line. He forced them to pay taxes for the first time in post-Soviet history. If Putin never happened, it is possible that Russian people would see very little of these oil profits, but Khodorkovsky would stash hundreds of billions in his offshore bank accounts.

    Your argument reminds me of this classic routine by Chris Rock:

    You’re supposed to have some profits go back to the country via taxes. Normal countries do this. Doing it doesn’t make one brilliant or incredibly humanitarian.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    "normal countries", eh? What does it even mean? For whatever reason 1990s Russia couldn't get its oligarhs to pay taxes. Ukraine still cannot do it. A whole bunch of countries struggle with basic tax collection. So Putin removed Russia from this group of losers, and made it more "normal" - credit to Putin.
  36. @AP
    Your argument reminds me of this classic routine by Chris Rock:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0B_ekSrsEk

    You're supposed to have some profits go back to the country via taxes. Normal countries do this. Doing it doesn't make one brilliant or incredibly humanitarian.

    “normal countries”, eh? What does it even mean? For whatever reason 1990s Russia couldn’t get its oligarhs to pay taxes. Ukraine still cannot do it. A whole bunch of countries struggle with basic tax collection. So Putin removed Russia from this group of losers, and made it more “normal” – credit to Putin.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    So Putin removed Russia from this group of losers, and made it more “normal” – credit to Putin
     
    .

    He gets credit for not being like a sub-Saharan despot or a southeastern Ukrainian criminal/politician and instead being like pretty much everyone else. Bragging about this is like a man bragging that he was never in jail, or that he supports his kids. I don't recall westerners bragging about their leaders or viewing them as geniuses simply because their government actually collect some taxes. Putin is simply an okay, normal leader.
  37. @AP

    These straight up GDP comparisons between former Soviet republics are highly problematic because they don’t take into account a number of factors, such as the interconnectedness of the economies due to them being one country for however many years
     
    .

    Sure. By virtue of its smaller size, Ukraine was more dependent on Russia than vice versa, making it more difficult for it to adjust to a cutoff. If 70% of something is produced in one country and 30% in another, it's easier for the country with 70% production on its territory to compensate. This probably in part accounts for Ukraine's poorer post-Soviet performance, though the problem is still primarily the nonstop, relentless looting by a at-best semi-national Sovok elite with little to no loyalty to the actual country (or to any country, for that matter).

    Russia sent massive subsidies to many of the former republics, especially Ukraine and Belarus, mostly in the form of discounted natural gas prices.
     
    In fairness, Ukraine historically had a critical role in the gas industry (at some early point it produced more gas than did Russia); as a result its experts played an outsized role in developing Russia's gas industry (one of the highest % of ethnic Ukrainians in Russia is in the gas-producing parts of Siberia). When everything was "nationalized" after the USSR broke up this simply became Russian although in some ways it would be fairer for Ukraine to have been given a stake in Gazprom given Ukraine's role in its development. Post-Soviet subsidies could be thought of as a form of payback, not as a simple gift (or theft by Ukrainians).

    It also assumed the entire debt load of the Soviet Union after its collapse via the Paris Club.
     
    It also got all the assets.

    Post-Soviet subsidies could be thought of as a form of payback, not as a simple gift (or theft by Ukrainians).

    LMAO Energy subsidies was a strategy to buy loyalty of post-Soviet states. It failed, and your thinking shows why: once you start subsidizing the moochers, and eventually they’ll take it for granted.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    LMAO Energy subsidies was a strategy to buy loyalty of post-Soviet states.
     
    Sure. This doesn't contradict what I wrote.

    It failed, and your thinking shows why: once you start subsidizing the moochers, and eventually they’ll take it for granted.
     
    Given the fact that the Russian industry was in significant part developed by Ukrainians and operated by Ukrainians, I'm not sure that Ukraine getting a discounted rate for the products of this industry that it, in part, developed can be completely categorized as "mooching." If Zuckerberg were sending money to the twins he bought out, would those twins simply be "moochers" for getting some facebook money?
  38. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich

    Post-Soviet subsidies could be thought of as a form of payback, not as a simple gift (or theft by Ukrainians).
     
    LMAO Energy subsidies was a strategy to buy loyalty of post-Soviet states. It failed, and your thinking shows why: once you start subsidizing the moochers, and eventually they'll take it for granted.

    LMAO Energy subsidies was a strategy to buy loyalty of post-Soviet states.

    Sure. This doesn’t contradict what I wrote.

    It failed, and your thinking shows why: once you start subsidizing the moochers, and eventually they’ll take it for granted.

    Given the fact that the Russian industry was in significant part developed by Ukrainians and operated by Ukrainians, I’m not sure that Ukraine getting a discounted rate for the products of this industry that it, in part, developed can be completely categorized as “mooching.” If Zuckerberg were sending money to the twins he bought out, would those twins simply be “moochers” for getting some facebook money?

    Read More
  39. AP says:
    @Felix Keverich
    "normal countries", eh? What does it even mean? For whatever reason 1990s Russia couldn't get its oligarhs to pay taxes. Ukraine still cannot do it. A whole bunch of countries struggle with basic tax collection. So Putin removed Russia from this group of losers, and made it more "normal" - credit to Putin.

    So Putin removed Russia from this group of losers, and made it more “normal” – credit to Putin

    .

    He gets credit for not being like a sub-Saharan despot or a southeastern Ukrainian criminal/politician and instead being like pretty much everyone else. Bragging about this is like a man bragging that he was never in jail, or that he supports his kids. I don’t recall westerners bragging about their leaders or viewing them as geniuses simply because their government actually collect some taxes. Putin is simply an okay, normal leader.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Felix Keverich
    I don't understand why you insist on trivializing Putin's accomplishments? Beresovsky and Khodorkovsky weren't your average law-abiding Western businessmen. It took courage and skill to confront them, and neutralise them the way Putin did.
  40. @AP

    So Putin removed Russia from this group of losers, and made it more “normal” – credit to Putin
     
    .

    He gets credit for not being like a sub-Saharan despot or a southeastern Ukrainian criminal/politician and instead being like pretty much everyone else. Bragging about this is like a man bragging that he was never in jail, or that he supports his kids. I don't recall westerners bragging about their leaders or viewing them as geniuses simply because their government actually collect some taxes. Putin is simply an okay, normal leader.

    I don’t understand why you insist on trivializing Putin’s accomplishments? Beresovsky and Khodorkovsky weren’t your average law-abiding Western businessmen. It took courage and skill to confront them, and neutralise them the way Putin did.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    Beresovsky and Khodorkovsky weren’t your average law-abiding Western businessmen.
     
    I believe the moral of the story is quite the opposite. The 1990s regime of Beresovsky, Khodorkovsky, etc. was a typical western oligarchy, the kind of regime currently in control of the US, Europe, and similar states.

    What happened in RF in early 2000s was that oligarchs (domestic, foreign, and multinational corporations) were removed from the levers of power (including, most importantly, from the mass-media). The country, Russian Federation, is actually run by elected politicians, which is extremely uncommon, and certainly different from the western political system.
  41. It’s a Second World country, and barely that. Other than the fact that it has a few thousand rusty old ICBMs, why should I care about it or the obedient sheep who live in it?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Avery
    {Other than the fact that it has a few thousand rusty old ICBMs,.....}

    [As U.S. nuclear arsenal ages, other nations have modernized]*
    [Russia's New ICBM Could "Wipe Out Texas"]**


    {....why should I care about it or the obedient sheep who live in it?}

    You absolutely shouldn't care: the last thing you'll see is a very bright light, a million times brighter than the sun, then it's over.

    btw: About thems obedient sheeps. You wanna see obedient sheeps, watch videos of TSA agents grope kids at airports while their parents helplessly look on***.


    ______
    * http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-nukes-silos-20141110-story.html

    ** http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a23547/russias-new-icbm-could-wipe-out-texas/

    *** http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2017/03/29/mom-films-tsa-groping-special-needs-child-sparks-internet-outrage.html

  42. UIA says:

    The less sleepy head side wins, Russian economy is like a sleeping giant and Venezuela. Bread is gone, broads are laid for cheap and only taking calls for cash. A whore is less than a sandwich.
    Pumping up the oil price is not working. Live off the pimping economy. US has post industrial poverty pimps because the pols sent the factories away. State checks are feeding th junk problem.

    It is like a LA boom. Order a dotcom pig whore on gregslist. The same in Moscow. Turn the young into political fodder. Ship the shooter to Syria to uphold the tyrant. US sent them to Iraq to become headcases and cops. It creates big pharma shareholder returns Seattle has camps full of grung bums and parasites. Cheap Mexican whores can work the luxury hotels.

    I’m with the Paine plan. Common interest promote common security. Once the formal bonds of gov are broke we’ll have the people who created the debt stuck with it.

    It’s a pig sticker system and why pay for a pig you can get for free? Russian pigs are asking a premium. They’ll leak on you for a fee. Golden showers and trumped up towers. Gimme what you got. Bless Don Henley. He called it.

    Read More
  43. @Jon0815

    Trading Economics posts data for GDP PPP across time.

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.
    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was about $3,800 in 2000, $9,000 in 2015. 237% increase.
    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was about $7,200 in 2000, $16,800 in 2015. 233% increase.
    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was about $10,000 in 2000, $23,500 in 2015. 235% increase.
    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was about $4,500 in 2000, about $7,500 in 2015. 166% increase.
     
    The World Bank has quite different GDP PPP estimates:

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was $7844 in 1991, $6825 in 2000, and $25186 in 2015 (3.7 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was $4194 in 1991, $2590 in 2000, and $9599 in 2015 (3.7 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was $5331 in 1991, $5800 in 2000, and $17740 in 2015 (3.0 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was $7708 in 1991, $7887 in 2000, and $25044 in 2015 (3.2 x increase from 2000-2015).

    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was $6387 in 1991, $3802 in 2000, and $7939 in 2015 (2.1 x increase from 2000-2015).

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD

    When someone stoops to using PPP, they’ve already lost the argument. Per capita GDP is $8,929 (IMF figure). That positions Russia at number 67, one spot below that economic juggernaut Venezuela. This, despite having the greatest natural resources of any country on earth. What could possibly account for a botch of this magnitude? How about a failure of national culture?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin

    When someone stoops to using PPP...
     
    PPP-adjusted GDP is a far better measure of b0th living standards and military-industrial potential.

    What could possibly account for a botch of this magnitude? How about a failure of national culture?
     
    How about Communism: http://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/education-economy-global-31.png

    Russia is not atypical in that group.
  44. Avery says:
    @AP
    Most of what you write is accurate. One point, however:

    Putin is widely admired not JUST for a good economy and good management, but also for setting a positive example for young people.
     
    Dumping his wife and mother of two children (allegedly, for a young ex-gymnast); tolerating epic corruption among his close associates?

    He is no Yeltsin, of course, but is hardly some paragon of virtue. Not being drunk throughout his presidency is not a high bar to cross.

    {Dumping his wife and mother of two children…..}

    His wife dumped him: not enough time in his busy schedule for her.
    Understandable.

    { (allegedly, for a young ex-gymnast)}

    Yeah, ‘allegedly’.
    Any evidence other than the CIA planted fake stories and innuendos?

    Read More
  45. Navalny and as it was correctly stated his crew have nothing to offer. They lack substance and they do not have that vibration with majority and masses. Russian public got more experienced and less gullible after 30 years. They see those people for who they are, reckless opportunists.

    Read More
  46. @Felix Keverich
    I don't understand why you insist on trivializing Putin's accomplishments? Beresovsky and Khodorkovsky weren't your average law-abiding Western businessmen. It took courage and skill to confront them, and neutralise them the way Putin did.

    Beresovsky and Khodorkovsky weren’t your average law-abiding Western businessmen.

    I believe the moral of the story is quite the opposite. The 1990s regime of Beresovsky, Khodorkovsky, etc. was a typical western oligarchy, the kind of regime currently in control of the US, Europe, and similar states.

    What happened in RF in early 2000s was that oligarchs (domestic, foreign, and multinational corporations) were removed from the levers of power (including, most importantly, from the mass-media). The country, Russian Federation, is actually run by elected politicians, which is extremely uncommon, and certainly different from the western political system.

    Read More
    • Disagree: Sergey Krieger
    • Replies: @Hairway To Steven

    What happened in RF in early 2000s was that oligarchs (domestic, foreign, and multinational corporations) were removed from the levers of power (including, most importantly, from the mass-media).
     
    Mass media control shifted from the oligarchs back to the kleptocratic State. Congrats on the big improvement.

    The country, Russian Federation, is actually run by elected politicians, which is extremely uncommon, and certainly different from the western political system.
     
    I've looked at this statement from a number of angles, but still can't grasp it entirely. Are we in the realm of deep irony? Is there some kind of dark comedy intended? Are there cognitive deficits that need to be attended to? Are you on someone's payroll?Are you breaking new frontiers in trollery? I'm frankly stumped at its morbid beauty.
    , @Felix Keverich
    There is evidence that above mentioned oligarchs ordered assasinations, bribed officials in the security services, and had deputies in Duma personally loyal to them - all of these are uncommon practices for wealthy people in the West.

    Compared to Western system, Russian institutions are very weak which makes them particularly vulnerable for exploitation.
  47. Avery says:
    @Hairway To Steven
    It's a Second World country, and barely that. Other than the fact that it has a few thousand rusty old ICBMs, why should I care about it or the obedient sheep who live in it?

    {Other than the fact that it has a few thousand rusty old ICBMs,…..}

    [As U.S. nuclear arsenal ages, other nations have modernized]*
    [Russia's New ICBM Could "Wipe Out Texas"]**

    {….why should I care about it or the obedient sheep who live in it?}

    You absolutely shouldn’t care: the last thing you’ll see is a very bright light, a million times brighter than the sun, then it’s over.

    btw: About thems obedient sheeps. You wanna see obedient sheeps, watch videos of TSA agents grope kids at airports while their parents helplessly look on***.

    ______
    * http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-nukes-silos-20141110-story.html

    ** http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a23547/russias-new-icbm-could-wipe-out-texas/

    *** http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2017/03/29/mom-films-tsa-groping-special-needs-child-sparks-internet-outrage.html

    Read More
  48. @Hairway To Steven
    When someone stoops to using PPP, they've already lost the argument. Per capita GDP is $8,929 (IMF figure). That positions Russia at number 67, one spot below that economic juggernaut Venezuela. This, despite having the greatest natural resources of any country on earth. What could possibly account for a botch of this magnitude? How about a failure of national culture?

    When someone stoops to using PPP…

    PPP-adjusted GDP is a far better measure of b0th living standards and military-industrial potential.

    What could possibly account for a botch of this magnitude? How about a failure of national culture?

    How about Communism:

    Russia is not atypical in that group.

    Read More
  49. JL says:
    @AP

    These straight up GDP comparisons between former Soviet republics are highly problematic because they don’t take into account a number of factors, such as the interconnectedness of the economies due to them being one country for however many years
     
    .

    Sure. By virtue of its smaller size, Ukraine was more dependent on Russia than vice versa, making it more difficult for it to adjust to a cutoff. If 70% of something is produced in one country and 30% in another, it's easier for the country with 70% production on its territory to compensate. This probably in part accounts for Ukraine's poorer post-Soviet performance, though the problem is still primarily the nonstop, relentless looting by a at-best semi-national Sovok elite with little to no loyalty to the actual country (or to any country, for that matter).

    Russia sent massive subsidies to many of the former republics, especially Ukraine and Belarus, mostly in the form of discounted natural gas prices.
     
    In fairness, Ukraine historically had a critical role in the gas industry (at some early point it produced more gas than did Russia); as a result its experts played an outsized role in developing Russia's gas industry (one of the highest % of ethnic Ukrainians in Russia is in the gas-producing parts of Siberia). When everything was "nationalized" after the USSR broke up this simply became Russian although in some ways it would be fairer for Ukraine to have been given a stake in Gazprom given Ukraine's role in its development. Post-Soviet subsidies could be thought of as a form of payback, not as a simple gift (or theft by Ukrainians).

    It also assumed the entire debt load of the Soviet Union after its collapse via the Paris Club.
     
    It also got all the assets.

    I didn’t mean to make this into a partisan issue, nor to suggest that the disadvantages only went one way, despite the examples I listed. Endless arguments could be made about what’s fair, but it’s pretty irrelevant now anyway, the chips fell where they did. My point was simply that GDP comparisons between former Soviet Republics were oversimplified.

    One thing, though:

    It also got all the assets.

    How do you figure? Each republic ended up with pretty much whatever was on their territory, save for some specific instances involving nuclear weapons and other high tech military hardware.

    Read More
    • Replies: @AP

    My point was simply that GDP comparisons between former Soviet Republics were oversimplified.
     
    On this, I agree.

    It also got all the assets.

    How do you figure? Each republic ended up with pretty much whatever was on their territory, save for some specific instances involving nuclear weapons and other high tech military hardware.
     

    According to this source (pg. 145) Russia inherited $103 billion in Soviet debt but got $140 billion in Soviet assets abroad. These figures can be found elsewhere. I haven't found specifics of what those assets were - I assume all embassy and consulate properties, a lot of other properties including banks, all military hardware stationed abroad, satellites, etc. If I am not mistaken, Russia got the USSR's gold reserves (though they were depleted).

    In addition, stuff like Russia's gas industry, which Ukraine played a significant role in developing, simply became fully Russian because it was on Russian territory. Ukraine also inherited a lot of stuff on its territory that was developed from Moscow, but none of that was as valuable as Russia's natural resources extraction industry.

  50. AP says:
    @JL
    I didn't mean to make this into a partisan issue, nor to suggest that the disadvantages only went one way, despite the examples I listed. Endless arguments could be made about what's fair, but it's pretty irrelevant now anyway, the chips fell where they did. My point was simply that GDP comparisons between former Soviet Republics were oversimplified.

    One thing, though:

    It also got all the assets.
     
    How do you figure? Each republic ended up with pretty much whatever was on their territory, save for some specific instances involving nuclear weapons and other high tech military hardware.

    My point was simply that GDP comparisons between former Soviet Republics were oversimplified.

    On this, I agree.

    It also got all the assets.

    How do you figure? Each republic ended up with pretty much whatever was on their territory, save for some specific instances involving nuclear weapons and other high tech military hardware.

    According to this source (pg. 145) Russia inherited $103 billion in Soviet debt but got $140 billion in Soviet assets abroad. These figures can be found elsewhere. I haven’t found specifics of what those assets were – I assume all embassy and consulate properties, a lot of other properties including banks, all military hardware stationed abroad, satellites, etc. If I am not mistaken, Russia got the USSR’s gold reserves (though they were depleted).

    In addition, stuff like Russia’s gas industry, which Ukraine played a significant role in developing, simply became fully Russian because it was on Russian territory. Ukraine also inherited a lot of stuff on its territory that was developed from Moscow, but none of that was as valuable as Russia’s natural resources extraction industry.

    Read More
    • Replies: @JL

    Russia inherited $103 billion in Soviet debt but got $140 billion in Soviet assets abroad.
     
    It was a lousy balance sheet. You're talking about short term debt that needs to be serviced in the interim, and eventually redeemed, relative to illiquid assets mostly in the form of real estate that the state needs to use for diplomatic purposes. Furthermore, those are cost centers as they need to be maintained and staffed. I understand that the former republics were left with no diplomatic facilities, but, for the tenth time, I'm not taking a stand on the fairness of this outcome. As it is, the debt and, arguably, a lot of those assets, were drags on Russia's economic growth.

    In addition, stuff like Russia’s gas industry, which Ukraine played a significant role in developing, simply became fully Russian because it was on Russian territory. Ukraine also inherited a lot of stuff on its territory that was developed from Moscow, but none of that was as valuable as Russia’s natural resources extraction industry.

     

    I didn't want to be drawn into this discussion, but I'll just point out here that Ukraine owns the gas transportation system which delivers most of Russia's gas to its largest customer, Europe. It's been a steady income stream, mostly for the oligarchs, of course, but also to the country itself. Not to mention the opportunity to steal some of the stuff in transit.
  51. @Mao Cheng Ji

    Beresovsky and Khodorkovsky weren’t your average law-abiding Western businessmen.
     
    I believe the moral of the story is quite the opposite. The 1990s regime of Beresovsky, Khodorkovsky, etc. was a typical western oligarchy, the kind of regime currently in control of the US, Europe, and similar states.

    What happened in RF in early 2000s was that oligarchs (domestic, foreign, and multinational corporations) were removed from the levers of power (including, most importantly, from the mass-media). The country, Russian Federation, is actually run by elected politicians, which is extremely uncommon, and certainly different from the western political system.

    What happened in RF in early 2000s was that oligarchs (domestic, foreign, and multinational corporations) were removed from the levers of power (including, most importantly, from the mass-media).

    Mass media control shifted from the oligarchs back to the kleptocratic State. Congrats on the big improvement.

    The country, Russian Federation, is actually run by elected politicians, which is extremely uncommon, and certainly different from the western political system.

    I’ve looked at this statement from a number of angles, but still can’t grasp it entirely. Are we in the realm of deep irony? Is there some kind of dark comedy intended? Are there cognitive deficits that need to be attended to? Are you on someone’s payroll?Are you breaking new frontiers in trollery? I’m frankly stumped at its morbid beauty.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    Mass media control shifted from the oligarchs back to the kleptocratic State. Congrats on the big improvement.
     
    Yes, it certainly is a big improvement. How is it not?
  52. Boris N says:
    @AP
    Most of what you write is accurate. One point, however:

    Putin is widely admired not JUST for a good economy and good management, but also for setting a positive example for young people.
     
    Dumping his wife and mother of two children (allegedly, for a young ex-gymnast); tolerating epic corruption among his close associates?

    He is no Yeltsin, of course, but is hardly some paragon of virtue. Not being drunk throughout his presidency is not a high bar to cross.

    Dumping his wife and mother of two children (allegedly, for a young ex-gymnast)

    And yet it is his former wife who has married for the second time a guy who is 20 years younger. So we may have had the entirely different picture than it has been being represented.

    tolerating epic corruption among his close associates?

    Hm… Hilary? Donald?

    Yes-yes, I know, Putin must be a bad guy but not for what he has allegedly been accused.

    Read More
  53. @Mao Cheng Ji

    Beresovsky and Khodorkovsky weren’t your average law-abiding Western businessmen.
     
    I believe the moral of the story is quite the opposite. The 1990s regime of Beresovsky, Khodorkovsky, etc. was a typical western oligarchy, the kind of regime currently in control of the US, Europe, and similar states.

    What happened in RF in early 2000s was that oligarchs (domestic, foreign, and multinational corporations) were removed from the levers of power (including, most importantly, from the mass-media). The country, Russian Federation, is actually run by elected politicians, which is extremely uncommon, and certainly different from the western political system.

    There is evidence that above mentioned oligarchs ordered assasinations, bribed officials in the security services, and had deputies in Duma personally loyal to them – all of these are uncommon practices for wealthy people in the West.

    Compared to Western system, Russian institutions are very weak which makes them particularly vulnerable for exploitation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mao Cheng Ji

    There is evidence that above mentioned oligarchs ordered assasinations, bribed officials in the security services, and had deputies in Duma personally loyal to them – all of these are uncommon practices for wealthy people in the West.
     
    Uncommon? You've gotta be kidding. See my comment 14. Or read something, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Nader vs General Motors; something.

    Compared to Western system, Russian institutions are very weak which makes them particularly vulnerable for exploitation.
     
    Yes, Russian institutions are very weak. What it means, in reality, is that bribery, intimidation, and (occasional) violence are not normalized yet. From wikipedia: "Analyst James A. Thurber estimated that the actual number of working lobbyists was close to 100,000 and that the industry brings in $9 billion annually." Bribery, owning elected officials, it's perfectly legal.
  54. Boris N says:
    @Mao Cheng Ji

    Corruption is killing the Russian economy and preventing it from becoming a developed nation.
     
    Back in the US of A, the corrupt collusion between banksters, credit agencies, mortgage companies, and the government led, not so long ago, to a loss of 15-22 trillion dollars, by various estimates. Not to mention millions of people becoming homeless.

    Respected Mafia expert declares the UK "most corrupt country in the world" last year:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/roberto-saviano-britain-corrupt-mafia-hay-festival-a7054851.html

    Where's their anti-corruption activism? Why don't you concern-troll them?

    Where’s their anti-corruption activism? Why don’t you concern-troll them?

    The answer: the MSM own the discourse.

    Read More
  55. Boris N says:
    @Anatoly Karlin
    Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan massively increased their oil production relative to Soviet levels, whereas Russia has never even matched RSFSR peak output. This must explain their GDP performance because institutions/reforms certainly don't (especially in Azerbaijan).

    Armenia did considerably better than Russia, but from a lower base.

    Georgia came from a lower base, but did far worse; it has yet to recover the (real) output of 1989. To be sure its 1990s were disastrous even by post-Soviet standards, but Saakashvili wasn't the miracle worker he is sometimes portrayed as.

    Belarus did about as well or slightly better than Russia. Ukraine did far worse, and continues to do so. Latvia did about as well as Russia, Lithuania slightly better.

    Estonia did a lot better than Russia. Rapid successful reforms, Finnish level IQ, and quick integration with the West. It is the only country in the ex-USSR to do greatly better than Russia without it being attributable to a big expansion in oil production, or starting from a much lower base.

    Belarus did about as well or slightly better than Russia.

    Not true, if we consider regional GDP. I once explained that.

    Read More
  56. @Felix Keverich
    There is evidence that above mentioned oligarchs ordered assasinations, bribed officials in the security services, and had deputies in Duma personally loyal to them - all of these are uncommon practices for wealthy people in the West.

    Compared to Western system, Russian institutions are very weak which makes them particularly vulnerable for exploitation.

    There is evidence that above mentioned oligarchs ordered assasinations, bribed officials in the security services, and had deputies in Duma personally loyal to them – all of these are uncommon practices for wealthy people in the West.

    Uncommon? You’ve gotta be kidding. See my comment 14. Or read something, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Nader vs General Motors; something.

    Compared to Western system, Russian institutions are very weak which makes them particularly vulnerable for exploitation.

    Yes, Russian institutions are very weak. What it means, in reality, is that bribery, intimidation, and (occasional) violence are not normalized yet. From wikipedia: “Analyst James A. Thurber estimated that the actual number of working lobbyists was close to 100,000 and that the industry brings in $9 billion annually.” Bribery, owning elected officials, it’s perfectly legal.

    Read More
  57. @Hairway To Steven

    What happened in RF in early 2000s was that oligarchs (domestic, foreign, and multinational corporations) were removed from the levers of power (including, most importantly, from the mass-media).
     
    Mass media control shifted from the oligarchs back to the kleptocratic State. Congrats on the big improvement.

    The country, Russian Federation, is actually run by elected politicians, which is extremely uncommon, and certainly different from the western political system.
     
    I've looked at this statement from a number of angles, but still can't grasp it entirely. Are we in the realm of deep irony? Is there some kind of dark comedy intended? Are there cognitive deficits that need to be attended to? Are you on someone's payroll?Are you breaking new frontiers in trollery? I'm frankly stumped at its morbid beauty.

    Mass media control shifted from the oligarchs back to the kleptocratic State. Congrats on the big improvement.

    Yes, it certainly is a big improvement. How is it not?

    Read More
  58. JL says:
    @AP

    My point was simply that GDP comparisons between former Soviet Republics were oversimplified.
     
    On this, I agree.

    It also got all the assets.

    How do you figure? Each republic ended up with pretty much whatever was on their territory, save for some specific instances involving nuclear weapons and other high tech military hardware.
     

    According to this source (pg. 145) Russia inherited $103 billion in Soviet debt but got $140 billion in Soviet assets abroad. These figures can be found elsewhere. I haven't found specifics of what those assets were - I assume all embassy and consulate properties, a lot of other properties including banks, all military hardware stationed abroad, satellites, etc. If I am not mistaken, Russia got the USSR's gold reserves (though they were depleted).

    In addition, stuff like Russia's gas industry, which Ukraine played a significant role in developing, simply became fully Russian because it was on Russian territory. Ukraine also inherited a lot of stuff on its territory that was developed from Moscow, but none of that was as valuable as Russia's natural resources extraction industry.

    Russia inherited $103 billion in Soviet debt but got $140 billion in Soviet assets abroad.

    It was a lousy balance sheet. You’re talking about short term debt that needs to be serviced in the interim, and eventually redeemed, relative to illiquid assets mostly in the form of real estate that the state needs to use for diplomatic purposes. Furthermore, those are cost centers as they need to be maintained and staffed. I understand that the former republics were left with no diplomatic facilities, but, for the tenth time, I’m not taking a stand on the fairness of this outcome. As it is, the debt and, arguably, a lot of those assets, were drags on Russia’s economic growth.

    In addition, stuff like Russia’s gas industry, which Ukraine played a significant role in developing, simply became fully Russian because it was on Russian territory. Ukraine also inherited a lot of stuff on its territory that was developed from Moscow, but none of that was as valuable as Russia’s natural resources extraction industry.

    I didn’t want to be drawn into this discussion, but I’ll just point out here that Ukraine owns the gas transportation system which delivers most of Russia’s gas to its largest customer, Europe. It’s been a steady income stream, mostly for the oligarchs, of course, but also to the country itself. Not to mention the opportunity to steal some of the stuff in transit.

    Read More
  59. @AP

    Wait, are you using nominal GDP? Why!?
     
    Admittedly, time constraints. I was busy, and nominal came up first.

    Russia actually performs worse in comparison to its neighbors when one looks at GDP PPP vs. nominal GDP.

    Trading Economics posts data for GDP PPP across time.

    Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.
    Georgia GDP per capita PPP was about $3,800 in 2000, $9,000 in 2015. 237% increase.
    Belarus GDP per capita PPP was about $7,200 in 2000, $16,800 in 2015. 233% increase.
    Kazakhstan GDP per capita PPP was about $10,000 in 2000, $23,500 in 2015. 235% increase.
    Ukraine GDP per capita PPP was about $4,500 in 2000, about $7,500 in 2015. 166% increase.

    Looks like if we consider GDP PPP Putin showed dramatic growth in his country yet underperformed all his neighbors other than Ukraine. Actually, while Ukraine was a lot poorer than Russia in 2000 and remained so in 2015, it didn't grow much slower than did Russia, in terms of GDP PPP.


    So overall, the development of Russia has certainly been more or less impressive and it simply could not have been much faster or better. It being nothing particularly special in the region is not a problem, IMO.
     
    It's not a problem at all. It's a good thing. But given that it has improved at about the same rate in nomnal GDP and lower rate in GDP PPP as everyone else, other than the Ukrainian outlier, contradicts the "Putin superhuman savior" narrative that his fanboys support. Russia under Putin has been no more nor less than an average post-Commie country.

    Your numbers are wrong

    “Russia GDP per capita PPP was about $14,000 in 2000, $24,000 in 2015. 171% increase.”

    It’s an increase of 71% not 171%

    etc etc….

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  60. Well, we certainly live in interesting times.

    So, ‘McCarthyism’ per se was not the problem. It just happened to go after the ‘wrong’ people.

    Now, we have McCarthyism Redux on a much bigger scale with full cooperation of media and academia, but it’s no big deal.

    How will so-called ‘liberals’ square their denunciation of McCarthy’s ‘witch-hunt’ with their current hysteria about Russia-Trump collusion? At least HUAC, Nixon, and McCarthy had real evidence about Soviet spies in the US government. And atomic secrets were sent to Stalin.

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  61. Agent76 says:

    Jun 6, 2017 NBC edited out Putin’s hard truths – here’s what you missed

    Well we didn’t really expect NBC to include the full interview as part of their programming, however the organisation had edited out some key hard truths on behalf of President Putin.

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  62. […] state that this was the real reason for his sudden change of venue, especially after people posted photos and video of Sakharov Prospect showing the stage and sound equipment, which Navalny claimed he was denied, as […]

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  63. […] Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Navalny “Unfortunately for Navalny, the Russian electorate are not Western audiences, and these stunts are unlikely to work out well for him.” […]

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