Experts who are taking part in the World Economic Forum in Switzerland’s Davos on Wednesday presented three scenarios of the development of Russia’s economy. All the three were negative. In his remarks, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the situation in the Russian economy was positive and once again pointed to differences in approaches with Russia’s former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin. The prime minister also said he did not rule out he might run for Russian president once more.
The prime minister’s key task was to present Russia’s economic plans, writes the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily. But participants in the forum wanted to assess Russia’s future rather than look at what it has already achieved. Scenarios of Russia’s future development worked out by the international expert council on Russia gave rise to the most heated debates. These scenarios were based on three possible ways the situation might take: dropping oil price telling negatively on the budget, rising oil prices stalling institutional reforms, and stronger regional differentiation entailing general stagnation. Russia’s former Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin put it quite clearly that these scenarios were not ideas of just a small group of experts. The poll was conducted among 350 businessmen and experts.
Medvedev’s speech was no news – he said he was just outlining basic guidelines for the activity of his government that are to be officially presented next week, the Kommersant newspaper writes. In general, he said he agreed that the three scenarios were absolutely unacceptable. But there is a fourth path, he said, and Russia is following this path. And the “friends of Russia,” who constitute the majority of those present, believe in that, he added.
The prime minister kept bad news for an interview with Bloomberg TV, the newspaper writes. Thus, he said that Russia’s gas monopolist Gazprom might be stripped off its export monopoly status some time in the future, if the government decides it is advantageous. Medvedev also said rivalry with President Vladimir Putin at the presidential polls in 2018 was absolutely impossible. Touching on the notorious Sergei Magnitsky case, the Russian prime minister said the man was not a “fighter for the truth,” but a petty corporate manager, and the masterminds of this case “are flocking here in Davos.” These people, he said, seek to politicize the case in order to justify their tax dodging in Russia.
The Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper comments on the prime minister’s words about his possible running for Russian president.
Experts say that this way the prime minister, who has been severely criticized in the recent time, wants to prove he is not a “lame duck” both to the West and to Russian elites, the newspaper writes. According to people cited by the newspaper, Medvedev has taken an erroneous tactical line: while demonstrating his loyalty to the president, he, at the same time, hints at being aside from some “political forces that a currently in power.” Such ambiguity, experts say, can frighten off both potential investors and his supports inside Russia.
Medvedev’s statement was too cautious. More to it, the prime minister gave to understand that he was not going to vie with President Putin at the presidential elections in 2018. According to the newspaper, the prime minister has good reasons for a comeback: he wants to take the presidential office after being at a high post, he has a good, although declining, rating. But experts predict his resignation, instead of the presidential office. His early resignation is now widely talked about in expert communities.
According to Igor Bunin, the director of the Centre for Political Technologies, the situation Medvedev is now in is rather poor. “Everybody wants to have him go away. So, he has opted for a very simple strategy: on the one hand, he seeks to dissociates himself from Putin, and, on the other hand, he wants to demonstrate he is working in tandem,” he said and described Medvedev’s situation as tragic. “He should not have given up in August 2011. He did have a chance then. And now it looks like there is no good strategy he might take to stay as a political figure,” the expert added.