Leonid Radzikhovsky: ''Pension reform still needs to be carried out...''

Leonid Radzikhovsky: ''Pension reform still needs to be carried out...'' Photo: youtube.com

Whether the Russians should be concerned about a possible economic crisis, whether Russia will manage it, whether the protest potential in connection with the pension reform is big — read in the second part of the exclusive interview of political expert Leonid Radzikhovsky for Realnoe Vremya.

Mr Radzikhovsky, is the pension reform in the form that it is proposed by the government the right measure? Or there will be some easing?

I think that the pension reform still needs to be carried out — if working people do not allocate money to the Pension Fund, it is nowhere to take money from: if it is impossible to reduce the pension — it can be only increased, and the number of pensioners is growing, but the number of workers is not, then one don't have to be a great mathematician to understand that it is imbalance, the hole in the budget is growing and growing. How can we close it? Only by reducing the number of pensioners and increasing the number of workers, and there is no other way.

But it is another thing that a lot of other things should be carried out that they do not do — to reduce military spending, to reduce representational expenses — the same championships and so on, on officials, but it will mean that it is necessary for the power to shoot themselves in the foot. The military costs could be reduced and nothing would happen, but there are two points — the army is one of the personal pride of President Putin, and if you reduce the cost slightly, it will not have the effect. Reducing costs significantly means reducing the army, but what to do with the military then? What will they do? Therefore, if the army is still affected, then slightly.

But the reform will be softened — it has already been announced that some laws will be adopted on the pre-retirement age, but listen, this is a typical story — any trade begins with requests, and then the price is reduced.

''There will be protests and demonstrations, but they will have no political significance. Who holds our protests and with what slogans? If it is labour unions, their protest in general can be thrown into the sewerage, if it is Communists, then here it is worth remembering that it is a reserve party of the power.'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Is the risk of protests in July, August, the autumn on the pension issue still big?

I do not think so. There will be protests and demonstrations, but they will have no political significance. Who holds our protests and with what slogans? If it is labour unions, their protest in general can be thrown into the sewerage, if it is the Communists, then here it is worth remembering that it is a reserve party of the power, ''armoured train on a spare way'' — the Communists are fed, watered, cherished, but the ''armoured train'' should be brought to the main way and it will be. But against whom? Against the oligarchs! But the names of these ''menacing'' oligarchs for some reason the Communists never call! Although, no – they name Khodorkovsky and Abramovich, it is them who robbed, according to the Communists, our people and Russia and it is with them ''a war will be to the bitter end''. Of course, except the oligarchs, the Communist Party sees the officials as enemies either, we will tear their heads off because they are thieves, because they carry out the genocide of the people, but for some reason I do not hear the names of the officials! Who are they! No one, just officials and that's it! And finally, the enemies for the Communist Party is the economic bloc of the government — damn liberals, acting by the orders of global power brokers and strangling Russia. Are these ''enemies'' dangerous for the government, do they represent some political force? Oh yes, Abramovich is very dangerous! And the economic bloc is dangerous, thanks to which the members of the Communist Party drive luxury black BMW cars and live in Rublyovka (the unofficial name of a prestigious residential area in the western suburbs of Moscow – editor's note). But the Communists forget that thanks to this bloc the country has the lowest national debt and the best performance in the economy among developing countries, budget surplus and low inflation. But Venezuela, to the Communist Party knowledge, without such a ''corrupt'' economic bloc would collapse — there is a lot of oil but no economy, inflation there is 5,000% a year. So what? Will Putin give the current economic bloc to the Communists? For example, inflation in the country is like in Venezuela and the economy will collapse. Therefore, Putin will rather soften the pension reform amid the growth of even such protests.

How greatly will the pension issue affect the upcoming gubernatorial elections in many regions of Russia in September? After all, many governors support the reform.

In different regions it will be different, but it is expected no surprises in these elections in general. There are 86 regions in Russia, and even if in one of them a head of a region loses the elections, even if the elections will be won ''from the bottom'' — that is, a very independent candidate or even a candidate from the Communist Party wins, there is nothing wrong, but the victory of the opposition in two regions — it is too much today and this will not happen.

Why the opposition candidate can win only in one case?

Because the elections in our country are run by Moscow, and seniors almost always vote for the power — they quietly get their pension and have no troubles, and their pensions can be only increased. Those who will become pensioners in the future and those who are about 60 years old, their turnout is less than that of current pensioners. Besides, there are also public sector employees who are ordered to vote for a certain candidate. And finally, few regions have really strong and popular alternative candidates who have organization. Without organization, it is impossible to win gubernatorial elections.

''Has Shevchenko dealt with the problems of water supply or pensions in the last 30 years? As far as I know, he has never been engaged in this — he made a name for himself on other subjects, and it is difficult to me to imagine that he hooks the inhabitants of Vladimir Oblast.'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

In that case, will famous journalist Maksim Shevchenko win in Vladimir Oblast? Yes, he, of course, is not local, but behind him there is an organization — the Communist Party, and his name is known to many. Or the factor of a local native is much more important than the name?

I do not know Vladimir Oblast well, but I do not think that the residents of the same Vladimir are insane to such an extent to choose a journalist as the head of the region who often talks about how the Muslims in the south of Russia are oppressed, how terrible Israel is and how the global backstage strangles Russia. Such uplifting stories from Shevchenko are unlikely to be enough for people of this region to vote for the unknown person as the governor. Although, everything is possible…

But it is unlikely that Shevchenko will talk to residents of, for example, Suzdal or Gus-Khrustalny, about Israel or Dagestan…

Certainly, he will not talk about the problems of Middle East there, or the sinister role of the US, but has Shevchenko dealt with the problems of water supply or pensions in the last 30 years? As far as I know, he has never been engaged in this — he made a name for himself on other subjects, and it is difficult to me to imagine that he attracts the inhabitants of Vladimir Oblast. But Grudinin, for example, although it is a different story, in March had a chance to get good support even at the presidential election — he is the chairman of the sovkhoz, and this sovkhoz is successful — Grudinin knows how to manage, he understands people, he is a skilled organizer and economist, and in general, he is a peasant man — why not voting for him? And here, if we remember, it took great efforts of the media to beat Grudinin, and to some extent, the efforts of Grudinin himself to beat himself. And if in Vladimir there comes a journalist from Moscow and starts to rattle as a machine gun, bawl and tear a shirt on his chest, the question arises, ''What did you do before in your life?'' Well, yes, a member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights and Civil Society Development — it is very good, a TV host – it is also good, but we are from Vladimir Oblast here and how does this concern us? Mr. Shevchenko, do you know about finances?

Shevchenko is a wordsmith, so he can greatly convince people that he is good at finances!

Well, if he can wash away the rests of sanity of inhabitants of Vladimir Oblast, I am happy for them, but I am not sure of it because incumbent governor of the region Svetlana Orlova is also a wordsmith.

When we were agreeing on the conversation, you very seriously said that it would be important for Russia to think about a probable economic crisis today. What makes you think it is just around the corner? If it happens, has Russia a chance to overcome it painlessly?

I did not say about a crisis — I do not undertake to tell such things, it is world economists who say this. A crisis, by the way, was predicted last year (with the accession of Trump it was predicted a collapse of the economy, but there was a rise). They predict a crisis this year as well, and this, of course, increase the probability of the crisis every year. This is the cyclical crisis that happens for the same reason as the officials need to be changed. Just time goes on and changes — continuous economic growth is impossible, the economy moves along sinusoid. Since 2009, the economy has been going up, and 10 years of growth in a row is a lot. Many believe that it is time for the economy to fall. But the main thing is not that there will be a crisis — it will be, we will not get away from it, unless there is happiness in the face of boundless communism. The main question is in the size, depth and nature of the crisis, as we already know several crises of different depths. Economists say that Trump with his heroic actions and decisions is bringing this crisis closer as he can. Not on purpose, of course, but by the formula ''we wanted the best, you know the rest'' — the same trade wars, for example, this is dangerous.

''Economists say that Trump with his heroic actions and decisions is bringing this crisis closer as he can. Not on purpose, of course, but by the formula ''we wanted the best, you know the rest'' — the same trade wars, for example, this is dangerous.'' Photo: kremlin.ru

As for Russia, it can be saved from the crisis like from global warming or from an influenza pandemic — it is necessary to cut our country out of the ball and send it to some other object. But there will be other crises at another object. Since it is technically impossible to do, but the crisis, of course, will hit us — we cannot escape from it. But to what extent it will hit — everything will depend on the economic policy of Russia, and one of the goals of the economic policy of this macroeconomic bloc is to prepare better for this crisis. If Kudrin and his team listened to ''patriots'' such as Zyuganov, Shevchenko, Glazyev and even ''outstanding economist'' of our time Vladimir Solovyov and did not hold ''anti-people's'' course, but ''people's one'', if they did not accumulate money in the ''meaningless'' green papers and spent it here, developing our native economy — building factories, roads, helping people, we would have a situation like Venezuela is having today. Namely, in Russia following the crisis of 2008 there would have been a big collapse in living standards. But since the ''liberal'', ''corrupt'', ''pro-Western'', ''hated by the whole of Russia'' part of the government saved money, there came out a brilliant economic solution — when there are free money, it is better not to spend it, but rather to save, and this is a move with which only a great and outstanding economist can come up. It is Kudrin and his team came up with this — saved in dollars, not in rubles, and in a difficult moment opened the wallet and began to spend the money. Thanks to this, the crisis of 2008 was unpleasant for us, but not catastrophic, relatively painless. But another unpleasant thing came — the accumulated money was spent, but the margin of safety was thin and it is quite difficult to make it thick again if a crisis hits soon. For me, as an ordinary man in the street, it looks something like this. It is possible that I am wrong, but I believe that the money for a rainy day should always be saved. If this is the economic wisdom of Kudrin today as well, it is very good.

Interviewed by Sergey Kochnev