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Prognosis of the World Development between 2000 and 2030

Victor Feller

VII. Special Issue: The Presidential Race Of The Year 2000 In Russia.

Do you wonder who is the most probable winner of the 2000 elections? I do. Yeltsin? Or Ziuganov? Yavlinsky? Lebed? Maybe Luzhkov? Or Zhyrinovsky? Or somebody else? It makes no sense trying to guess the name, for one should rather think what ideology has the best chances to win. Will it be the communists, or the center-lefts? Or maybe the center-rights, or even a purely right-wing party?

The so-called "Communists" in the Russia of nowadays have not much to do with the communism in the former meaning of this word. They are rather a populist party that tries to look and sound statesman-like. Their coming to power would trigger violent actions, and, as a result, quick shift to the right-wing policies. In foreign affairs they will give preference to China. At home, they will favor engineering, defense industry and natural monopolies, confront the caste of governors and win over them between 2001 and 2003.

The center-left politicians (Luzhkov) in Russia are mainly officials, with statesmanlike cast of mind, standing for state capitalism, mostly able administrators, or directors of large public enterprises (in contrast to the Communists - a banded together cast of old CPSU cadres, ideologists and demagogues). Their electorate embraces the middle age population (while the pro-Communist one - that of retirees), and their coming to power is unlikely to be as violent and full with collisions, as the Communistsí will probably be. They will quietly put both governors and bankers in their proper places, all the time left being busy strengthening their power, until it becomes perfectly authoritarian. In foreign policy they will be backing China, but without so much strident anti-Americanism, as the Communists. Strangely enough, they may be far more radical in their pro-Chinese policy than Communists ever could imagine themselves being. During their cooperation with China they will be mainly lobbying for the interests of large defense and engineering companies striving to make Chinese markets open for their goods.

As for the center-rights, they will probably develop a rigid and authoritarian vertical power relationship, restraining the oligarchy and governorsí influence. In foreign affairs they will not be half as willing to make friends with the East. However, with Europe and the U.S. never dropping out their policy of undermining Russiaís economy and military, and China "holding out the hand of comradeship", they will have to agree. Under their rule, the state share in heavy industries will increase, as it would under the center-lefts. The only difference will lie within total privatization of all the medium and small-sized companies, trade and non-manufacturing businesses, which will be implemented under the center-rights. The center-lefts would resort to partial re-nationalization instead, or leave things as they are, opening a large stage for bribe-extortion or payola to the authorities.

In case of the center-rights rising to power, there will be more justice and less arbitrariness, than under the center-lefts. The rightists will declare war on organized crime, while the center-lefts will be themselves too much integrated into the underworld to do something more than episodic surgical strikes. The leftists will try to find their power base among workers or minor government officials, while the center-rights will be working mainly with the lower middle class and the authorities. In point of ethnic autonomies in Russia, the center-lefts will adopt a cautious and tolerating approach, while the center-rights will be openly hostile. This hostility will become manifested after the consolidation of their power, between 2000 and 2003, and afterwards may lead to open ethnic conflicts in the regions of the Volga and the Caucasus.

The Right ("Yabloko") will have long odds against them in the 2000 elections. However, if a centrist politician is elected president, he or she may actually swing to the right shortly afterwards. The Rights will stand for more capitalism and less government, for a stable legal environment, which should be protecting property, market economy, medium and small-sized businesses, for moderately protectionist policy by means of tax and tariff regulations, for progressive cutbacks in the government machine, and for the ruble being supported by the State Bank interventions. However, the Russian currency must be kept low enough to make Russian engineering goods still competitive in the Third World. Itís the Rights that may be able to talk the West into relaxing its anti-Russian policy in 2001-03. They will never fully succeed in this, and readily accept the Chinese friendship in the meanwhile. Under their rule Russia will make strategic partners with most of the European and developing nations besides China.

In domestic issues, the governorsí opposition, together with big businesses or national governments of the autonomies, will confront the Rights, trying to counter them with a populist ideology. Because of the Rightsí point of being "doers, not talkers" and a stress put on fair play against the interests of influential groups, they will be much exposed to criticism and prejudice. Itís the attacks that will ultimately make them relax the policy of reforms and correct their views to please the centrists. Strangely enough, an actual right-wing policy carried on in the years 2000-02 may result in reaction and strong anti-Western tendencies within the Right themselves.

On the whole, regardless of which party comes to power in 2000, the most probable course of events will be as follows:

  • a lurch towards China, in order to make things lively for the uncooperative West;
  • a sharp increase in military works;
  • stronger regulation of economy;
  • a "Taming of the Governors" crusade to win back Russiaís territorial integrity;
  • the rise of the middle class and small or medium-sized businesses.

By 2010, Russia will have finally adapted herself to the capitalism, which had come there twenty years earlier. In 2010, many industries and companies, which have undergone extreme hardships to keep their heads above water during the 1990s, will be prospering again. After the havoc of the 1990s, the old will be gradually merging with the new during all of the 2000s. The key issue of the decade will be territorial integrity of Russia. The central authorities will succeed in subordinating the governors, but national autonomies will retain their special privileges, the Far East and Siberia reaching a dangerous level of independence.

Will Russia be likely to menace security or independence of the CIS nations at that stage? It is highly improbable. The Communists, in a blaze of anti-Western feelings, would make themselves contracted in to a close cooperation with the East and Central Asia. Moreover, if they make any dangerous steps that threaten the independence of Kazakhstan, it may lead to a heavy strife between Russia and Ukraine, the latter feeling herself at risk. The Centrists will be pursuing their purposes by means of underground intrigues and pressure, but will never venture on hazardous steps, considering Russiaís weakness and the Westís not going to help her whatever happens. The Right will be too rational and isolationist to have designs on neighboring territories. In short, if only a non-extremist regime (no matter, which one) comes to power in Russia at the beginning of the century, the independence of the CIS nations is out of danger.

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