NEWSWATCH Moscow Times: Predicting the Future With Russia’s Economic Nostradamus

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[“Predicting the Future With Russia’s Economic Nostradamus. (Mikhail Dmitriyev)” – The Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – March 18, 2015]

The Moscow Times talks with former Putin Deputy Economy Minister Mikhail Dmitriyev about unfolding changes in the Russian economy, as well as the interaction between foreign and military policy, economic pressures, political trends and public attitudes towards the Russian government and the West.

Q: It is now clear even to the government that sanctions do affect the Russian economy. But how do they affect Russian society and support for President Vladimir Putin?

 

A: The foreign policy agenda, Ukrainian conflict and the economic crisis go hand in hand. We have observed a dramatic evolution of public attitudes toward the Ukrainian crisis … At the beginning of 2014, the whole issue was considered through the perspective of foreign policy achievements. … the approval of what people saw as the restoration of Russia’s status as a great power …

 

… that attitude had changed. Russia’s ambitious foreign policy began to be considered not as an achievement but as a source of the threat of military conflict. The perception of a real threat of war has increased almost three times. …
People have also begun to see Western powers as an enemy and a threat. …

 

This situation means people can still approve of Putin, but the nature of the approval has shifted from positive motivation — approval of achievements — to negative: approval due to the perception of foreign threats. The acquisition of Crimea was considered a positive achievement, but now Russia’s isolation is considered to be a threat. This threat can also consolidate [people], but only from a negative perspective.

 

If the Ukraine conflict escalates further … this negative consolidation could turn against the authorities. People could get tired of military confrontation, which will no longer motivate them to support the government. …
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This may also imply that if the foreign policy crisis escalates, sanctions are strengthened and the economy suffers, then it is likely that the approval rating of the president will go down.

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