Sergey Medvedev: The thirty-year history of “systemic liberalism” is a story about a bizarre overseas flower that has grown on the swampy soil of the Russian state

“Modern Russian liberalism was not an ideological trend, was not founded by the historical development of social thought and property relations, but was born in the depths of the state itself at closed seminars and expert institutes in the mid-1980s in an attempt to answer the obvious crisis of the socialist economy,” stated Sergey Medvedev – historian, host of the Radio Liberty project “Archaeology”.

The bet on a strong state did not work, during the first months of the reforms, despite the creation of shells of modern institutions (tax, customs, banking system, financial market), the state turned out to be a copy of the former one – corrupt, ineffective, based on natural rent and administrative resources. At the same time, however, it flaunted a liberal sign, market certificates from international institutions.

The war led to the final institutional defeat and the moral fiasco of Russian liberalism: none of the so-called systemic liberals condemned the criminal invasion of Ukraine.

Chubais and Kudrin, who were perplexedly silent, were graciously allowed to emigrate – the first abroad (where he survived a mysterious poisoning), the second to Yandex tamed by the security forces, Siluanov, Gref and Nabiulina diligently harnessed to the chariot of war, putting monetarism at the service of militarism, providing the regime with financial and macroeconomic stability in the face of sanctions and mobilization. The Higher School of Economics, rushing into the top 100 global universities, is now signing a strategic cooperation agreement with the pirate “Luhansk People’s Republic”, and the meeting room of the Academic Council, which once welcomed Nobel laureates, is now occupied by people in camouflage. And the rector of the RANEPA, Vladimir Mau, a liberal of the old school, in March 2022 signed the shameful “letter of rectors” in support of the war, and after a short house arrest in July of the same year, he became actively involved in the patriotic rhetoric of the authorities.

The thirty-year history of “systemic liberalism” is a story about a bizarre overseas flower that has grown on the swampy soil of the Russian state. He attracted many with his smell, which caused addiction and nostalgic dreams. But, unfortunately, like almost everything that grew on this swampy land, it gave poisonous fruits, became one of the components of the regime, its functional support (although not an ideology for a long time), a supplier of loyal personnel who ensure the smooth functioning of Putin’s war machine.

The World Economic Forum in Davos, where Russia sent one of the most representative delegations for many years and where the “Russian House” is equipped with caviar and vodka. Now some Russian visitors to Davos who occupied rooms in the Steigenberger Belvedere Grand Hotel are waiting in another cozy European city – The Hague.”

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