Russia After the Presidential Election

Russia has elected Vladimir Putin for president, for his fourth term. Obviously, many political analysts will state that it was only a vote, not an election. Meanwhile, others will emphasize that Putin is in fact this popular among the Russians. From the perspective of another traditionally European culture, there might be something in these remarks. The usual outcome is positive for Putin, if his candidacy is challenged in the modern Russia by communists who are considered all-time-losers, or nationalist and populist candidates, with their strongly theatrical behavior. Hence, the middle range of the the election base could remain intact. Though it does not legitimize the mostly unilateral steps concerning presidential candidates. Yet, the Russian population feels threatened from outside, and obviously wants the national election base to act as one, by all means.

In my opinion, Russia decided to step forward from the appearance applied by dictatorships, and to implement market economy. Since 1992, it is peculiar that Russia has always been considered as a separate counter pole, in comparison with the so-called West. For instance, Ukraine could always be considered as part of our European model, but somehow Russia could not. The country always remained the Big Bear. I am saying this, because I am not sure that the organization of the society is significantly different in Ukraine and Moldova. Within these societies, it will be very difficult to establish the model, which is profoundly western and based on those Christian cultures. A model, which was built upon the basis of; civil societies, emerging professional organizations, building the so-called middle class, independent small possessors and enterprises. Nevertheless, we only defined Russia as the contrary (not always hostile) pole. Thereafter, we did not understand when the culturally similar post-soviet republics were defined as foreign lands, which we, Hungarians considered as a threat, along with the westerners. We had to realize that we have a Russian brother who lives in the middle of the steppe, where people tend to better understand each other’s language. This state might be useful concerning the undesirable effects of the Islamic expansion. It is true, that Georgia is a pro-Western country with orthodox origins, and Russia took a bite from it. (Meanwhile the French and the Germans concluded energy businesses with Moscow.) Armenia is an untimely Christian country, and it is also true that Moscow guarantees its independence from Azerbaijan. Consequently, it is easier to understand that Armenia decided to cooperate with Russia instead of the European Union, despite the country’s western-diaspora.The question is; Can the EU protect Armenia without causing an economic collapse, in case of cooperation? I think we might get the answer in 10 years, if we compare the Armenian and Ukrainian (the latter has chosen to cooperate with the EU instead of the Eurasian Union, as we all know) outcomes.

In Russia, the presidential election is the real decision on power by the people. It is rooted in the population for more than 100 or even 500 years. The struggle is important between parties with the basis of values and value systems, during the parliamentarian elections. However, it does not possess such a significance as it is described by political scientists on this side of the Dniester River. They tend to instinctively insist to the hard-handed leader of their own.

They got it again. In the last couple of years, Putin scored additional victories, just like he did by the time of the second Chechen war. Revolution and anti-Russian rebellion broke out in Ukraine, which is the “eternal cradle”. Meanwhile, he managed to obtain without difficulty the Crimean Peninsula with its outstanding strategic importance, and the power of influence over Eastern-Ukraine. They achieved success not only militarily, but diplomatically as well. The Russians felt like old times in the position where they stood by the side of the leadership, in order to tackle the embargo established by western countries. They returned to the course of economical growth only in 2017. Though it was an experience of victory, because they stood firmly in the subject of Ukraine. Just like the fact that, they acted as the protectors of the West against Islamic terrorism, in Syria. Moreover, the country managed to hold its position in the Mediterranean region with strategic importance. Russia turned to a superpower again. Without Russia, there is no chance for peacemaking in Syria. Furthermore, the country is the pledge of stopping the further expansion of Islamic fundamentalism.

Is Russia truly a superpower? Economically it is not, for certain. Its GDP cannot be compared to the G8 countries. Moreover, Russia is only a moderate player among the G20 countries, with the GDP of approximately 1500 billion euros. It is far away from not only the USA or China, but from Japan and India as well. We may even mention Brazil and Germany too. With the best of intentions, Russia is playing in a group with the British or French. Does Russia stagnate, just like Italy and Japan did in the last quarter century? We cannot say that. Between 1995 and 2016, the Russian GDP per capita grew by 4.1 times, just like it did in Hungary by nearly three times, according to the OECD.Italy (likewise member of the G8 group) less than doubled this figure. Nowadays, this indicator approached that of Hungary, and it is well above the Chinese performance, by a third. Let’s take a look at the military expenses in dollars. With the amount of 5 percent of the total GDP, Russia is far behind in spent US dollar not only the United States or China, but the big-costumer Saudi Arabia as well. However, if we are looking for a most capable country in the development of weaponry and space technology, Russia occupies a privileged position.

Russia diversified its external trade relations with the cooperation of Shanghai, hence is has started the extended networking with China. The economic cooperation of Russia with the surrounding countries has reached a remarkably higher level. Thus, it has established a Eurasian custom union with Kazakhstan and Belarus, which is almost like the European Economic Community in the 70s. Furthermore, they might establish the internal market with the formulas of the western European brothers. The Armenians and Kyrgyz people are joining now, so the Russian-brokered union is attractive already. (The internal market would have been stronger with the involvement of Ukraine). However, there is a direct connection with the European Union (at the border between Poland and Belarus) and China (at the border between Kazakhstan and China), and even with Turkey through Armenia. The economical performance of Russia was not that bright, in recent years. It was partially because of the Ukrainian crisis and the lower prices of raw materials (particularly concerning oil and natural gas). However, there is some good in everything; it seems that the embargo provoked an agro technological development in Russia, through which the country became a real agricultural exporter. Russia has an outstanding performance in cereal production, which may effect the Hungarian and Polish export positions. The economic crisis affected the exchange rate of the Ruble and the decreasing foreign exchange reserves negatively. However, the energy prices are on the rise and the situation of the external trade seems to be stabilizing from 2017. It could be a good sign for Moscow. The country is not seriously indebted, unlike the countries of America or Europe.

The newly elected president will probably move on with the strategic expansion. He might nominate his successor or remodel the political system into a restricted but even into a more liberal structure. Through the great economic reforms, he might initiate a civil technological development in favor of a modern Russia. Weaponry and energy are both global brands of Russia. However, industrial and processed agricultural products could indicate the power of the country as well. From 2014, our export shrunken as a consequence of the embargo and the economical fallback in Russia, only in 2017 could we see some recovery. Therefore, Hungary might be interested in a Russian market which shows economic and social development. The Paks 2 investment seems to be a huge project. It could mean the upper hand for the Russians, because Hungary is a member of the European Union and the NATO, but still committed towards Russian technology.

At the dawn of a great aeronautical boom, we failed to establish a successor airline of the collapsed MALÉV, even by operating Sukhoi aircrafts. I am very sorry about that. Russia needs a reference for the civil aircrafts within the OECD area. These aircrafts are mainly sold in Russia, but Hungary would have been a great market with its regional expansion. It is also sad that the formerly widespread Lada automobile could not re-enter until today the Hungarian and Middle-European market, like the Dacia did. Though, it is possible in the future. Russia is the most important foreign source of repatriated profit for the Hungarian multinational companies, like OTP, MOL and Richter. The Sberbank is also present in Hungary.As we all hope, the Ikarus brand might receive offshore orders from Russia. In case the Russians introduce an alternative concept for the economic approach to Hungary different from the western countries, it could be a huge success for us. Hungary does not want to remain in the semi periphery. Concerning the geographical and cultural features, Russia is the closest country among the emerging superpowers with such relations. However, security policies may easily obstruct our imaginary forthcoming rapprochement in many perceptions.

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The GLOBS is the only magazine in Hungary that focuses on foreign affairs and trade. The topics cover the different aspects of social life, business and culture (especially business culture), research and development, investment opportunities, charity initiatives, and the everyday life of the diplomatic delegations.
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