Grigory Yavlinsky: Exhaustion of the state
Grigory Yavlinsky’s website, 23.12.2016
Today the President has the end of year press conference, the President is answering the questions of the journalists. There are a lot of question but, in my opinion, there is one major question: what is going on with our state? The situation with [oil company] Rosneft will probably help answer this question.
First they told us that Russian banks including Gazprombank provided Qataris and assumed Swiss with funds to buy Rosneft. What followed was even more interesting. Former Deputy head of Russia’s Central Bank supposed that the deal was financed by the [Central] Bank of Russia: the debts of the banks to the regulator increased by 240 billion roubles since the privatisation of Rosneft was announced! This way, the transaction for the sale of 19.5 per cent of shares of the the largest state company turned out to be not simply strange but symbolic.
Such systems as the one we have in Russia at the moment always evolve, and they evolve towards a certain direction at that, going through several phases. It seems that now we are entering the phase when the superstructure of the system is beginning to serve not just group or corporate interests, these phases are already gone through, but private ones in the literal sense of this word.
Group interests are, for example, the interests of the military industrial complex, or the agricultural complex. Or, let us suppose, big commodity-driven business. Theoretically, any brisk, working system cannot but reflect the interests of certain social corporations. By the way, excessive protection of such interests may lead to negative consequences for the rest of the society. The thing is that the society is always diverse, if it denotes its interests in politics, it is not done directly but via some unions.
But it is already an alarm signal when not some public corporations but certain individuals, no matter whether they are on their own or belong to small groups, are becoming the major force in the country. Individuals driven only by their private interests can both make a real mess of things and spoil the whole broth. In such a situation they can do serious damage to the society. It is also about corruption when one starts pointless multi-billion projects to steal a penny. It is also about strange transactions which appear unobvious even at first glance, and as soon as you go into detail the number of question, which are left unanswered, is growing. It is also about unreasonable foreign policy adventures which are launched because of personal ambitions or advance in rank.
In this respect the privatisation of Rosneft’s block of shares is a bad sign.
Of course, such non-transparent transactions were made before. But, first of all, now it is the case with the very strategic asset of the state. A lot of things – in terms of the budget and life of the country – depend on the way this asset will function. Of course, one could turn their back on the problem, turn a blind eye to it, but not this time.
In the second place, despite the fact that some degree of unscrupulousness is inevitable in politics, one must not make unscrupulousness a principle of politics. At the moment our country is waging a hybrid war with the biggest part of the world, and the Middle East emirate of Qatar is on the other side of the front in this war. So, under the circumstances how can one allow the Qatar Sovereign Fund to manage such an important asset? The other thing is that the authorities imposed this war on the country, and we need to drop out of this resistance somehow. Even if we suppose that the transaction with Rosneft is the path to the way out (though I can hardly believe it), the door is situated in a different place.
In the third place, not only the essence of the privatisation deal but the procedure of carrying out the formal commission of the government was violated in several respects. And this is also a very bad sign. If one can neglect the state discipline concerning SUCH a transaction, which interferes with someone’s personal interests and circumstances, then what can one tell about thousands of less important deals on the state scale of this kind?
This way, I am afraid, the process of turning the state from an instrument of harmonisation of interests of different groups of the society into a screen for personal self-interested deals with state property got a new acknowledgement and a new impulse. This is called the exhaustion of the state.
If it goes on like this, we have the combats for personal interests ahead – this is a real precondition, which is hard to eliminate, to coercive actions behind-the-scenes at the highest level.
Posted: December 28th, 2016 under Understanding Russia.