Volume 43, Number 171,
October-December 2012
Russia: Strengths and Weaknesses
Arturo Bonilla
Medvedev and Modernization

Dmitri Medvedev was elected President of Russia in 2008. Antonio Sánchez Andrés wrote that the challenge that Medvedev sought to address was modernizing the country. “In economic terms (it meant) not only growth, but also (...) developing the Russian economy, related to the diversification of production, technological renewal and infrastructure improvements. In social terms, it meant (...) increasing the population’s standard of living, introducing more effective educational and health systems. In political terms, (increasing) the economy’s democratization, following the canon of Western countries (and reducing) corruption.” To summarize, this modernization points toward “responding to the structural deficiencies that were pending or not addressed following Putin’s term.”15

This specialist concluded that “the Russian economy was seriously affected by the global crisis. (However), strong state intervention (managed) to slow down economic contraction and initiate a new phase of increased economic activity. Still, the main causes behind the recent crisis (were) not changed. For that reason, in the short and medium term, the Russian economy will present greater or lower dynamism as a function of the evolution of petroleum prices and availability of international credit.” So, according to Sánchez Andrés, Russia’s biggest challenge to achieve modernization lies in “productive diversification, the development of economic sectors sustained by advanced technology, repairing and broadening infrastructure, renewing R+D+I and education and (reducing) corruption.” But “the difficulties in introducing structural changes as mentioned are clear, and up until now, advances have been scarce,” hindered by “increasing domestic, social and regional tension (and) reduced capacity for Russia’s international projection.” As a result, this author believes that “progressive extinction of the economic potential is foreseeable as the obsolescence of the Soviet heritage in the areas of infrastructure, advanced technology and education worsens. This situation puts future expectations of Russia’s economic growth into doubt.”16

Russia: Crisis and Economic Growth

The following figure demonstrates the behavior of the Russian economy during its transition to capitalism from 1991-2011. Russia advanced amidst profound crises and significant growth rates. Economic, political and democratic reforms were inspired by Perestroika and Glasnost, sealing the transition of a Socialist economy to a market or capitalist economy and influencing the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Each government pursued its own objectives, achieving diverse goals and failures. Yeltsin applied programs from the imf and wb, imposing economic liberalization measures, excessive privatization and monetary and financial stabilization. Putin adopted institutional reforms, projecting economic growth and social well-being. Finally, Medvedev sought modernization linked to economic growth, development and democratization together with the well-being of the population.

Figure 1. Russia: gdp Growth (% annual)
Prepared by Sergio Suárez Guevara and Jorge Zaragoza Badillo, iiec-unam, 2012.
Source: World Bank. Data, Indicators of Global Development.
15 Sánchez Andrés emphasizes the following: “However, the initially proposed objectives were concealed by the impact of the crisis. At the end of 2008, economic activity contracted in the country and in 2009 there was serious shrinking.” Antonio Sánchez Andrés, “The Russian Economy in the World Crisis: An Evaluation of the Medvedev Term,” Journal cidob d’Afers internacionals, num. 96, December 2011, issn 1133-6595-E-issn 2013-035x, pp. 48-49.

16Op. cit., p. 59.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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