On March 6, Speaker of the Russian State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin halted an appearance by Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin and told him to come back more prepared another time. According to veteran legislator Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the interruption was the first of its kind in 20 years.
The situation was caused by Oreshkin’s report on the country’s economic prospects. Volodin stressed that Oleshkin came unprepared and was being too vague.
“Let’s stay away from general talk. Let’s us talk about goals, about problems that may hinder implementation of those goals, and about our common responsibility,” Volodin said. “We can achieve success when our annual economic growth is 3 percent. Last year we ended with 2.3 percent, and now we have been given a prognosis of about 1.3%. Where is the development?”
Voloding said that other ministers who have reported to the State Duma have laid out “visions of the future with concrete positions”. However, Oreshkin, who is responsible for economic growth and development, was not so concrete.
“If we are not ready for that approach, it would be better for us to postpone the discussions,” Volodin stressed adding that Oreshkin should come back in late March-early April for the discussion.
The speaker recalled that the government has allocated significant amounts of money for economic programs and accused Oreshkin’s ministry of delaying their implementation.
The March 6 incident is another sign of the crisis within the Russian elite, in particular between the so-called “liberal bloc”, including persons affilated with transnational elites, and the state-minded [formally “patriotic”] part of the elite. Oreshkin, who has been serving as the Minister for Economic Development since November 2016, is an obvious member of the “liberal bloc”.
Actions of the State Duma speaker were likely directed by President Vladimir Putin and were a reaction to the improper execution of national programs. It appears that members of the “liberal bloc”, which in fact controls the enocomic bloc of the Russina government, are sabotaging them.
The observed situation means that the Russian economic is facing notable difficulties and Putin has started emplyoing a hands-on management in this field.
It’s also important to recall the reasons behind the decision to interupt Oreshkin’s report:
- The report was too vague. Volodin said that Oreshkin must provide an analysis of the situation and concrete steps;
- The amount of funds, which was spent on national programs and project. These funds were already allocated by the government, but the Economic Development Ministry said that less than 10% of them had been spent by March. The rest of the allocated amount cannot be spent because preparation works have not been finished;
- The report was focused on small business and provided no comprehensive details into the national projects and programs in other fields, in particular the real sector of the economy.
In the current situation, it appears that if the government employs urgent mearues, it will be able to start wroks in the framework of the aforementioned national projects and programs not earlier than in the second half of 2019. If no urgent mearues are employed, this will likely be delayed to the last quarter of 2019. These delays come amid the slowing growth of the Russian economic and a constant threat of new round of anti-Russian sanctions from the US and its allies.
Some experts ask why has not the “libral bloc”, first of all people like Oreshkin, been removed from the power? So far, the only answer has been that there are not enough candidates and teams not affilated with this faction of the Russian elite. It’s interesting to note that many of the Russian economists graduated from the National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRUHSE). The NRUHSE is well known for its support of international financial institutions and economic management approaches promoted by them.
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