Lobbyists Now More Powerful than People in Putin’s Russia, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Warns

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, September 21, 2018)

Russia now faces a problem many other countries have long been familiar with, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say. Well-organized lobbyists are often far more effective than “larger but amorphous social groups” in securing a larger share of government resources for those they represent.

The power of lobbyists, however, is countered by political mechanisms like elections and parties which many other countries have but that Russia no longer does, the editors say. Indeed, in the last year, “defenders of the interests of the interests of the population almost no longer remain” in either the executive or legislative branch (ng.ru/editorial/2018-09-20/2_7315_red.html).

Lobbyists for various big corporations and sectors of the economy thus often get unjustified shares of the budget because “they no longer encounter a push back from forces which would be interested in the support of the population.” And as a result, “never before in modern history have ‘anti-people’ budgetary initiatives” arisen with such frequency.

It is not only that the lobbyists ensure that they get more from the budget but also that the population pays more in taxes and fees while they do not, Nezavisimaya gazeta says. Why this has occurred just now is uncertain. “Perhaps it is a result of the silent agreement of the citizens; perhaps as a result of the impressive results of the last Duma and presidential elections.”

“But perhaps,” the paper continues, “it is the result of the sharpening of the sanctions war because war trumps everything else.” Just now, the highly profitable oil and gas sector has been given new benefits from the state while the population has been told that it must retire later and pay higher taxes to boot.

According to the editors, “it is noteworthy that each shocking decision has at first glance a wise explanation.” But discussions about each show that they are not wise at all. Taking money from the population and giving it to the rich risks destabilizing the country. And “there are already signs of this in society.”

These indications include not just polls but election results, Nezavisimaya gazeta says. To be sure, wealthy people who are using the government to take from the population resources that can be put in their pockets hardly “take note of social consequences. In scholarly terms, this is called ‘the loss of feedback,'” a step towards “a regime of uncontrolled fluctuations.”

[Article also appeared at windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/09/lobbyists-now-more-powerful-than-people.html]