Russian Anti-crisis Policy is Adrift without Direction

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Baev, Pavel K. (2008) Russian Anti-crisis Policy is Adrift without Direction, Eurasia Daily Monitor. 16 March.

Consensus remained elusive at the OPEC and the G20 meetings last weekend as countries firmly put their parochial interests first, but Russia appeared unable to decide where its priorities really were.

This dubiousness reflects the current lethargy in Russia's anti-crisis policy, which was quite vigorous a few months ago, pumping money into the paralyzed banking system. This policy, however, has lost consistency and even a sense of purpose as the crisis has acquired the character of a multi-dimensional catastrophe.

Various triggers are clicking perilously close to the political powder kegs these days, ranging from a near-mutiny in Berdsk caused by the disbanding of a Spetsnaz brigade to the charged campaign for mayor of Sochi, where the charismatic anti-Putinist Boris Nemtsov is a contender. What could constitute a real detonator, however, is the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, which has opened in Moscow and enjoys massive media coveraga. Despite extensive efforts by the prosecution, the lack of substance in the sloppily prepared case is impossible to hide, and this constitutes a clear dilemma for Medvedev. A guilty verdict would implicate him in a gross distortion of justice, but allowing the case to fall apart in the court would constitute a direct challenge to Putin and his lackeys, who have benefited from dismembering Yukos. Medvedev would have to feel desperate to contemplate the latter option...but then, perhaps he already does.

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