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Liberalism is alive and well. A Russian liberal Vladimir Putin

Либерализм жив и здоров. Ответ русского либерала Владимиру Путину

“You need to have two peaceful transitions of power in a row”

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement that “the liberal idea has become outdated”, gave rise in the Russian intellectual environment of discussion. It lasts until now. Who is Vladimir Putin himself for their ideological views as liberalism refers to free movement and who is to blame, the liberal idea has discredited itself in Russia — your thoughts on these and other issues shared in an interview politician and economist Sergei Zhavoronkov. He is the co-Chairman of the political party “Democratic choice” and member of the Board of the Foundation “Liberal mission”.

“Putin just once again trying to mimic”

— There was a time when the President of Russia called itself “real liberal”. In particular, he stated journalists in 2014, shortly before the Olympic games in Sochi. His press Secretary Dmitry Peskov in 2016 confirmed this idea: “Putin is absolute liberal by nature, and far more liberal than the denominative liberals who call themselves “opposition””. Again recently in an interview to foreign journalist of The Financial Times, Putin said: “the Liberal idea is also impossible to destroy, she has a right to exist, and even support need something. But one should not assume that it is entitled to absolute domination, that was it”. In your opinion, was Vladimir Putin, ever the supporter of liberal ideology, or it was always just mimicry?

— Putin has not only called himself a liberal. If you remember, he managed to call himself a nationalist. At the same time, this did not prevent Putin on the Board of the General Prosecutor’s office to demand a fight against nationalism. That is, apparently, with himself. And until 22 August 1991, comrade Putin was generally a member of the Communist party. But as soon as it became clear that the monopoly of a single party ended its existence, he “courageously” left the ranks of the Communists.

In the interview, which caused a stir in the world, Putin just once again trying to mimic, this time under the modern Western new right. But this is absurd, because if you talk in his same spirit that, say, liberalism is some kind of uncontrolled importation of migrant workers, the main liberal of Russia is Putin himself. Because that’s what he brought to Russia more than 10 million legal immigrants. Mainly from the Muslim countries of Central Asia. Putin has repeatedly declared immigration Amnesty, that is, he thereby stimulated the arrival of the criminals who were previously deported from Russia. Putin opposes the introduction of visas with Central Asia. Putin, it’s no secret feeding of the republics of the North Caucasus at the expense of main Russian territories. In short, Putin is in American terminology is the most left radical like Elizabeth Warren and others who advocate for uncontrolled smuggling of migrants.

According to semi-official Russian media are telling us that the West will soon be the Apocalypse in connection with the migration from Islamic countries. But compare how many Western countries have received migrants, and how Putin brought migrants from Islamic countries to Russia. This figure is 10 times more! For example, according to the migration of the MIA, the service of registration and deregistration of 2018 took advantage of 31 million citizens. What about the migrants in Texas he says? Why are they talking about? He is the President of Texas?

Or remember the recent party called “Festival of youth and students” in Sochi. Back in Soviet times, gathered all the Communists and leftists. The last time she welcomed the Deputy head of the presidential administration Sergei Kiriyenko. That is, when necessary — Putin is a Communist, when necessary — nationalist, when it is necessary — suddenly a liberal. That is, he is a master of mimicry, as you said, and also demagoguery.

Либерализм жив и здоров. Ответ русского либерала Владимиру Путину“When necessary — Putin is a Communist, when necessary — nationalist, when it is necessary — suddenly liberal”

For some citizens of Russia liberalism really is associated with tolerance for minorities and fight for their rights as priority, as well as opening borders to migration. In an interview with The Financial Times, Putin, speaking about liberalism, said: “the liberal idea implies that nothing should be done. Kill, Rob, rape — you will be nothing, because you’re a migrant, it is necessary to protect your rights. What rights? Broke — get punished for it.” Whether the opening of borders, including migration, is the goal of modern liberalism?

— The issue of migration has historically never been at the centre of liberal ideas. The liberal idea went out the views of Charles Montesquieu and Adam Smith, who lived in the XVIII century. They talked about the fact that we need low taxes, need a state of law, must respect the natural rights of man and citizens must themselves choose their power. About the same in the twentieth century, the classic liberal ideas of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman and others. They do about the rights of migrants from Islamic countries to live in Europe does not say. The issue they didn’t care. Yes, in second half XX century there was a type authors Murray Rothbard, who began to emphasize the importance of freedom of migration. But, nevertheless, all later layers on the liberal idea, and they in any case are not its center.

In the United States and Canada there has been a mutation of the term “liberal”. There has long led to understand by this word is something like a Communist. Liberal there became known as one who is for higher taxes, for the fight against the rich, the privilege of ethnic minorities for positive discrimination, and so on. Therefore, there is some confusion. When someone in America and Canada scolds liberals have in mind are not those of the liberals, which we called so in Russia. This refers to the American new left. Accordingly to us, Russian liberals, American liberals are irrelevant. Rather, as I already showed, they in their views related to Putin. At least, in views on migration and tax increases they converge. Russian liberalism did performed.

Yes, there is controversy in the liberal environment of migration. But I will remind you that a few years ago, it was the coordinating Council of the opposition, and there to vote on the question of visa regime with the countries of Central Asia. This Council consisted of Navalny, Kasparov, Gudkov and others. Now, the vast majority voted for a resolution calling to introduce a visa regime with Central Asia. So the statement that the Russian liberals supposedly are supporters of some kind of unlimited migration, fiction. And, oddly enough, is the bike like to say a fiery Putintsev, whose leader just importing millions of migrants to the country.

“If the government does not choose, there is a right to resist”

Liberalism in Russia will soon be 30 years, if you count the starting point of its implementation, the liberal government of Gaidar. In your opinion, whether the engrafted liberalism in Russia?

— In Russia, no one wants to return to the planned model of the economy, General scarcity of goods, prohibition of travel abroad, one-party system and so on. This won’t even Putin. Another thing is that in the view of the population requires the nationalization of big business, state intervention in the economy, etc. But the results show that it is economically inefficient. For example, when in Russia the majority of oil companies were private, and this is the beginning of zero years, the oil production have grown by 7-8% a year. And now it is barely growing at 1%. Along with this, economic growth in Russia fell sharply. Now it is 1-0,3%, and until 2007 we had economic growth of 6-8%.

Либерализм жив и здоров. Ответ русского либерала Владимиру ПутинуYegor Gaidar, 1992 godori Abramochkin / RIA Novosti

It is also worth noting that the reforms of 1992 were not completed, because neither Gaidar, nor Yeltsin were not autocrats like Putin. Their power was limited. Therefore, failed to implement financial stabilization was high inflation in 1992, due to the fact that the Central Bank was subordinated to the Supreme Council. The Central Bank headed Gerashchenko published a large amount of money, so was high inflation.

But on the other hand, Gaidar’s reforms gave Russia price liberalization, it became possible to sell the goods at the price at which the seller wants. There was a Directive on the freedom of trade. People just went outside and sold with whatever he wanted. However, since 1994 began again limitations. Now trade on the street is an administrative offense, and in this sense we took a step back. Next, was liberalized import and export, the cancellation of any licenses, special exporters, specimport, that is made possible normally to import and export goods across borders. That’s what Gaidar’s reforms.

Privatization began later. When Gaidar took only a small privatization. It concerned, for example, small shops. In any case, I am convinced that the ideal of an efficient economy is the US, where not only oil and gas companies are private, but even nuclear power plants, Railways, prisons and more. We see that economic growth when Donald trump was doubled compared to Obama, and exceeded 3%. This is above the European 2%, and especially above that ugliness that is happening in Russia. In any Federal state statistics service figures, I do not believe. At best, economic growth in Russia is equal to zero.

— Do not you think that one of the reasons for the rejection of liberalism was the economic policy implemented in Russia over the years? People who gave credibility to the liberals in the early 90s, was not expecting such results.

Is wrong to join Putin’s nationalization of the liberalization of the 90-ies. I agree that part of our society committed to the same views on the economy, as Mikhail Bulgakov’s famous hero, who said: “Take everything and divide.” They believe that it is necessary to take someone’s money and send them to officials in the hope that they will give them to the people. But, of course, the officials people do not give up and will operate according to the principle: profit is privatized, and losses natsionaliziruyut. Today, the state of the company and work, there is a profit tends to zero. The real profit can be displayed on its contractors and to the pockets of the governors.

But Putin and his entourage when he criticizes liberalism cares not even his economic component, but a question of the natural rights of man. Charles Montesquieu singled out four basic rights: liberty, property, security and resistance to violence. As you know, the right to resistance to violence enshrined in the US Constitution. If the government does not choose, and she was trying to be life, then there is a right to resist. Here it is not like Putin and his fans. It is a right they deny it. They believe that a certain group of questionable personalities can seize power and rule for life. And nobody has the right to overthrow. They should be recognized throughout the world, because it’s, you know, sovereignty. Where some leaders are elected, we will have to rule for life one and the same group of friends.

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— If we asked these economists, as Katasonov, Delyagin or eyes to assess the performance of the present government of Russia, they call it liberal. You know the expression “the liberal government Medvedev.” What do you think about this?

— For many years, people tell us that is ruled by a “liberal government Medvedev.” But Dmitry Medvedev is the Chairman of the party “United Russia” supports the government of Vladimir Putin. In addition, members of this party are many Ministers and officials of his government. And this is the same government which constantly raises taxes, nationalisim private business, creates a of the Corporation — what is liberalism?

All of the government appointed Putin head of the Central Bank appointed by Putin, and not the International monetary Fund. Explore the Constitution: the Prime Minister is appointed by the state Duma on representation of the President, the same applies to the Chairman of the Central Bank. The Chairman of the government can be dismissed even without the consent of the state Duma.

Либерализм жив и здоров. Ответ русского либерала Владимиру Путину“For many years, people tell us that is ruled by a “liberal government Medvedev””

Liars-propagandists before the last presidential election assured that the necessary re-election of Putin, that he was kicked out of the government all the liberals — and only then begin to live. But come may 2018, it became clear that Medvedev and his government are not going anywhere, they are satisfied with Putin. And here Putin’s propagandists were silenced. But now I see, again brought his hurdy-gurdy: Putin can’t get rid of the government because his hands are tied. But if his king to declare, then maybe he will be able to get rid of. In the most comic form all this nonsense sets out the Deputy of the state Duma from “United Russia” Yevgeny Fyodorov. He voted for the appointment of Medvedev and Nabiullina, the pension reform and so on, say, his liberals were forced to do it. In General, to seriously consider this thesis is impossible, it is designed for the feeble-minded.

— Is the pension reform comes not from the liberal idea — to minimize the role of the state in society and increase personal responsibility for his fate and well-being?

— The necessity of raising the retirement age and the fact that the government has done, are different things. The government has raised the age for ordinary citizens, but left the insane perks for military, security officers, prosecutors, and similar sorts of “useful” characters. For example, security officers can retire at 35. To take a job in 22 years, experience of 20 years, the year counts for half. Here is the output in 35 years. For comparison, the US security officers also have a preferential age of retirement is 57 years old and the overall age of retirement is 67 years. Such unprecedented benefits for workers of power structures in no other developed country in the world. Already by this criterion, this reform can be called not liberal but feudal. Remember, in medieval Europe were the nobility — the nobles and priests who did not pay taxes. And was everyone else, who were called the tax-paying class, they had to pay taxes. Here, actually, this whole pension “reform” in the Russian way.


At the same time in Russia there is a strange system of spending budget. 30% of the budget is the expenditure on the army and the police. More than two trillion going to subsidize corporations. That is, if the conditional in French while reducing labor reserve, there is no other way of preserving the standard of living, but to raise the retirement age in Russia such reserves are. In Russia, the need to dramatically reduce government spending on the police, the army, to the Corporation. And then we’ll see what we can easily do without raising the retirement age. According to the calculations of economists, we can save 250 billion a year. Thus we have in the past and this year’s huge surplus, in excess of one trillion. But they can say that oil prices can fall, and the like. But, friends, return military spending at least to the level of 2013, when they were not three trillion, one and a half and there will be money for pensions.

If we are talking about long-term strategy, I am in favour of private pension savings, which is, for example, in Chile. But it is necessary to reduce social payments. You need to stimulate the birth rate. The experience of some developed countries showed that in the modern world it is possible to secure natural reproduction of the population, that will not necessarily require raising taxes or the retirement age.

In an interview with The Financial Times, Vladimir Putin assured the journalist that in Russia there are no oligarchs. We certainly agree with you that it is not. But did not the emergence of a class of oligarchs natural result of liberal economic policies? Former Vladimir Putin’s Advisor for economy Andrey Illarionov has repeatedly written that the main thing in the course of Gaidar’s reforms were “not the maximum spread of free market relations, private property and free enterprise, and the proper distribution of property and power”. Not here there are the roots of the oligarchy in Russia?

— First you need to clarify who the oligarch. Is the one who has economic and political power. Here Arkady Rotenberg is the oligarch, his fortune came thanks to his friendship with Putin. You know Putin, he just gave Sheremetyevo airport? Well, that took and gave under the promise that it investments will be made. Excuse me, but why not give the Sheremetyevo airport, you or me?

But Alekperov is not an oligarch, but simply a rich man who has become such not because of the friendship with the President or some other high-ranking person in the state. But from what the society is rich, it does not mean that in society many poor people. In the US the rich people on the Forbes list more than Russia. But the US is not a poor country as Russia. While two thirds of the Forbes list is rich in the first generation, that is, they have earned themselves, not inherited.

By the way, during the 90s, when it carried out market reforms, rich people in the country were few. 1-2 people included in the Forbes list. The majority of Russians in this list there are just under Putin, when began to rise raw material prices on the world market.

Либерализм жив и здоров. Ответ русского либерала Владимиру ПутинуVladimir Putin’s interview with the newspaper the Financial

So to all lovers of social justice I propose to begin with to demand to announce real wages Sechin, Miller and so on, which are classified. Further, it is necessary to understand how the former and current Directors of FSB property worth billions of rubles, despite the fact that whole life they worked in the civil service, and even theoretically could not earn that kind of money.

Illarionov would only say what he in 1992-1993 he was an officer, first Deputy head of the Working center for economic reforms under the government, at public expense, has got apartment in Moscow. If in 1992 allegedly committed such a terrible crime, he is their partner. And again. Gaidar was not an Advisor to Putin. Comrade officially Illarionov was Putin’s Advisor in 2000-2005.

“For the rehabilitation of liberalism, it will be necessary to destroy all gostelekanaly”

— In Russia today, often the antithesis of liberalism is considered patriotism, under which we have implied approval of any government action, a commitment to authoritarianism, traditional values and so on. Whether liberalism and patriotism in the modern Russian interpretation represent different camps?

Liberalism, patriotism, traditionalism is all different plane. It’s like comparing hot and square, wet and green. The word “patriotism” is often assumed primitive manipulation, when the government policy is the only correct one. And those who are against it — those, then, are not patriots. For example, Putin is incomprehensible and useless war in Syria. It three times already declared victory and the withdrawal of troops from Syria. But they still can not get out of there. And here on this background there are voices: “Well, we, as patriots, must support our army!” But forgive me, I, being a liberal, propose to destroy this army? I’m not suggesting, I’m just saying that this army is completely not what it should be doing. There is no hostility to the army and the state. But there is disagreement with the stupid decision taken by the Russian President.

Being in power is not a criterion for patriotism. We had Yeltsin, he spent a largely controversial policy, many didn’t like it. But it turns out that those who then criticized and continue to criticize now, not the patriots? It appears that way. A patriot, according to current interpretation — is the one who always supports the government. But when they do speak, you hear the gnashing of teeth.

With regard to traditionalism, which you included in the concept of patriotism or associate with him. I don’t think there is a contradiction between the liberal idea and traditionalism. For example, I am Orthodox, that is, a follower of traditional Orthodox Christianity. I am a supporter of Christian-democratic values. I am opposed to public funding of abortions and is confident that abortions can only be applied in exceptional cases and in the early stages. I believe that religious organizations should have tax incentives like they have in Germany, Poland, Lithuania, USA and so on. That is part of the income tax you have the right to pay not the state, and religious organizations. I believe that Russia needs Christian democratic party. But Putin has banned the creation of parties with reference to any particular religion.

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That is all of the above to me does not make me any supporter of Vladimir Putin, nor a supporter of Vladimir gundyaeva — the last I do not recognize the legitimate head of the Church. The last legitimate Primate is Metropolitan Peter Polyansky, the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, executed by Stalin in 1937. Since legal continuity of the Church interrupted and not restored. So the traditionalist is not necessarily the enemy of liberalism and a supporter of Putin. And do not have to be a supporter of the government. In Russia today one can often hear cries that all power is from God, if Jesus Christ walked in Israel and campaigned for the Roman Emperor, as now Gundyaev Putin. Nothing of the sort!

— Liberalism as a certain fear of the introduction of Western values, which will gradually replace the traditional. Can I embed liberalism without Westernization?

— Tell me, Japan is a Western country? In Japan after the war, ruled by the liberal democratic party, which advocates for low taxes, strict immigration policy and so on. Japan is a good example of what liberal values can fully develop on non-Western and even non-Christian cultural background. There’s nothing wrong with Westernization. No one is obliged to borrow everything. For example, I don’t think we should borrow Western juvenile justice, i.e. the right of an official to decide what is good for the child and what is bad. I am totally against the insane prohibitions against Smoking that are practiced in some countries of the West. In this sense, the Russian government is on the path of Westernization. But would be better if it gave people the right to vote as they want, and not to impose aggressively a healthy lifestyle.

Либерализм жив и здоров. Ответ русского либерала Владимиру Путину“You will need to destroy all the state TV channels and to sell to different owners”Frame YouTube

— If you have a claim from the point of view of liberal values to the Constitution of Russia? Maybe it inherent defects that led to the failure of liberalism in Russia?

— There are some rough edges. For example, it is necessary to indicate that the governors and mayors are chosen by direct vote, to have local bureaucrats had no opportunity to play up with the law. Further, it would be good if the Prime Minister were approved by majority without the consent of the President. However, I do not believe that Russia should completely switch to a parliamentary Republic. That’s just not our way. We are closer to a parliamentary-presidential Republic, about the same as in the United States.

The problem is not in the Constitution. If you look at most dictatorships, you will see that from the point of view of constitutions is a completely normal country. In Africa the Constitution deducted from the colonizers countries. Just the Constitution, there is nothing.

Remember the days of Yeltsin’s rule. Then it was the same Constitution that now. But this was no dictatorship. This is a response to those who argue that the current regime has gone from Yeltsin.

— In your opinion, what needs to be done in Russia for the rehabilitation of liberalism, if that is at all necessary?

— After Putin for the rehabilitation of liberalism will need to destroy all state-run channels and to sell to different owners, including foreign ones. How in our society many zombies who talk about the terrible 90’s, about the fact that the liberals have betrayed Russia, about the terrible the West is and the fact that all enemies? They repeat the nonsense that from morning till night broadcast on state TV channels. And for taxpayers ‘ money. We have cost Federal television exceeds 200 billion rubles a year. With all the current promoters will have to get a wolf ticket. And then some additional measures are needed.

“While in the world remain authoritarian regimes of Russia and China, to talk about the “end of history” before”

— Can you name the country where liberalism was embodied most fully and historically took place?

— USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland. These countries are the most responsible liberal ideal from the point of view of low taxes, direct democracy, absence of large state ownership, carrying weapons and a number of other indicators.

And you can argue that all these models are suitable for Russia? Whether there is in Russia a cultural-historical “curse”, the “special path” to which our country all the time pulling various ideologues, politicians, bureaucrats, kings and leaders?

— It’s not how long you have democracy, and how long it exists. In Russia she has a very short period of time. First, since the reforms of Nicholas II until 1917. Second, the Yeltsin decade. And, perhaps, everything. It is very small. Therefore, in our political culture is so rooted statist tradition: the boss is always right, it is always necessary to obey, not to argue with. It really can be called a kind of “curse”. But this does not mean that the spell can not be removed. Take Poland and Finland. They were once part of the Russian Empire, the Soviet period was an attempt to integrate them into the Soviet Union. And what we see today? Today it is a normal democratic country, dominated by liberal values.

Here I agree with the economist Adam Przeworski. He said that for the normal functioning of a democratic regime required two peaceful transitions of power in a row. In 1991, we have the power peacefully changed, but such change was not. When the Russian authorities twice in a row will change peacefully, then we can be sure that our business began to improve.

— Putin argues that the liberal idea has outlived its usefulness in the West. He argues that there is “a gap between the interests of the elites and the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.” Does the liberal idea of the Western civilization?

— There is a problem, which is well marked by the famous American constitutionalist of the nineteenth century John Calhoun. It is a conflict of taxpayers — taxspenders. Some people pay taxes and others want these taxes to. People tend to vote for those candidates that promise to give out buns at the expense of other taxpayers. This is really a problem that emerged after the introduction of universal suffrage. It is something to do and gradually bring democracy taxpayers.

Accordingly, this problem is due to the growth of social obligations creates the growth of public debt. This is a relatively new phenomenon. Before the government borrowed only during wars. And this situation may create a serious debt crisis. Remember the crisis in Greece, which in the end saved by the Central Bank of the European Union. But if tomorrow, the creditors will no longer Fund Italy, I doubt that means financial system of the European Union will be enough to rescue Italy. And this can happen not only with Italy, but with Spain.

There is a problem when a number of politicians deliberately imported immigrants as their constituency. Their logic is simple and clear: let’s bring more comrades from third world countries, we will pay them benefits and they will vote for us. But this problem is not noticeable throughout Europe, and affects a number of countries: Italy, Spain, Germany, Greece, Sweden. In most European countries more than 95% of the population are indigenous.

Либерализм жив и здоров. Ответ русского либерала Владимиру ПутинуAlberto Pezzali/ Look Press

There is an issue attempts to impose on anyone not of the chosen ideology. It is the ideology of the so-called political correctness. She, like every other totalitarian ideology of the left, you do not want to Express any disagreement with her. All have to accept it or to pretend to humbly accept, and shut up. In the U.S., this problem is not particularly acute, because the first amendment protects the right to freedom of speech. There’s even possible to declare publicly: “Let’s kill the tramp”. But if you do nothing for this and I will explain that this is only the call without any action, then you it will be nothing.

But all these problems exist in Russia doesn’t mention Putin. Russia also circulated a promise to give one benefits at the expense of others, the importation of migrant workers from poorer countries and silenced with the help of the fight against so-called extremism.

And in USA today’s liberalism under threat? For example, Donald trump is pursuing a policy of protectionism, revising the values and practices of globalization. As far as protectionism is contrary to liberalism?

— I deny that trump is pursuing a policy of protectionism. The fact is that when you have a free economy, and you are trading with the country in which the production program is subsidized, then sooner or later this economy will capture your market. We are talking about China. In such a situation you should be no free trade with a country. Free trade good with those countries who have the same level of customs tariffs, the same level of subsidies and so on.

Now the level of customs tariffs in the world are unprecedentedly low. This is about 2%. 100 years ago, when there was real protectionism, customs tariffs were at the level of 18-20%. Increased and reached the level of 60-70%.

There’s this economist John Williamson, who in the late 80s, wrote a famous article “Washington consensus”. He said that we need a low customs tariffs. And as such it is called 15%. Now the customs tariff is much below this figure. Even in Russia it is about 8%.

30 years ago Francis Fukuyama marked the victory of liberalism in the world in his essay “the End of history.” They say that other ideologies didn’t have a chance. This article was written in 1989. In your opinion, did you get this forecast?

— As long as the world remains such authoritarian regimes as Russia and China, to talk about the “end of history” before. Although in General the story moves in the direction in which said Fukuyama. It is easy to understand, for example, the ratings of Freedom House. Countries are divided into free, semi-free and unfree. But the number of available countries is constantly growing. So this is a world trend, which in the future can hardly be reversed. The world will go in the direction of reducing taxes and government regulation in the amplification of direct democracy. So liberalism is alive and well, and to go to the world stage is not going to, whatever Putin and his friends.

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