Eugenie Minchenko interview. Part 1

Uploaded by VestnikKavkaza on 05.01.2012

Good afternoon, Eugenie.
We are summing up 2011 and trying to make some forecasts for the future.
What do you think, what event of 2011 was the most significant for the North and South Caucasus?
Eugenie Minchenko, head of the International Institute of Political Expertise
I think that the key moments were the elections held in Abkhazia and South Ossetia
– states recognized by Russia.
In Abkhazia, the candidate supported by Kremlin, won; in South Ossetia there’s an uncertain situation.
But I believe we can observe the consolidation of democratic forces and of civic society in these new states.
Abkhazia is for now a bit ahead of Ossetia, the democracy is more developed in the former.
But the very fact that both republics held elections shows then as fully functional independent states.
As for the region in general, I think Russia has failed to find an adequate response
to the terrorist threat on the North Caucasus.
The budgetary allocations also present a certain problem:
federal authorities have virtually ignored social initiative ‘Enough of feeding the Caucasus’.
In my opinion, the problem is not that we ‘feed the Caucasus’,
the problem is that we have to feed some specific ruling clans there.
All these money don’t go to the common people.
In my opinion this policy of giving tribute to local ‘princes’ is ultimately flawed:
people there become more aggressive – despite their 99% support of the United Russia party on the Caucasus
- and the level of stability sinks.
Bombings go on, particularly in Dagestan.
So this problem remains unsolved.
And I’m afraid that in the future due to general political instability the government
might not have a chance to return to this matter, despite the fact that it is truly urgent.
We’ve also observed no progress in the Nagorno-Karabakh problem despite all mediatory efforts of our President.
I’m afraid that this conflict might turn violent again in the conditions of current global instability.
It is also obvious that current state of affairs in Georgia demand some changes
from the regime of Mikhail Saakashvili.
At the same time, I think that the new Georgian political project – I mean Bidzina Ivanishvili
– is greatly overrated.
All his money won’t do the trick, he lacks personal charisma and popular support.
How would you estimate Russia’s entrance to the WTO?
It will certainly change our internal state of affairs.
Some of Russian car industry will fail to meet the competition and disappear
– and it’s good, because it’s impossible for the state to regularly invest considerable sums of money
and receive nothing in return.
This question can trigger an endless discussion.
Of course, some of the effects of our WTO membership will be positive – for example,
in banking and insurance business.
But the key economic event for the post-Soviet space was the finalization of the Customs Union.
The Eurasian Economic Commission can act efficiently now.
But of course there are some serious risks concerning the political stability in Kazakhstan
– it seems that all hangs on the state of health of one elderly leader.
The situation in Belarus is a bit different, Russian economic influence is very strong there.
As for political stability in Russia,
I believe the upcoming presidential elections will preserve status-quo,
but another turbulent period awaits us in 2013-2014,
as global economy will enter another stage of crisis and at the same time some unpopular social laws
will enter in force, for example, the commercialization of education and basic health care.
Some unpopular pension reforms will also be enacted.
All this will trigger popular discontent and frustration.
Property taxes will also be raised, and that will mostly affect common people, not the richest stratum.
So in my opinion today the situation will stabilize,
but in 2013-2014 there will be a real risk of a grave political crisis in Russia,
which will affect all our neighbors.