I was planning to mock this interview that Sergei Ivanov gave to FT, but once I read through it a few times, I realised it is more sad than funny. And it does not contain anything really new. The interview swings wildly between victimology, threats, finger-pointing, and condescension.
The interview is meant, I believe, to be a sales pitch for FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in Russia. One of Ivanov’s many responsibilities is that of member of the Supervisory Board of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. Ivanov claims that FDI has increased 13-fold since 2002. He neglects to mention that according to Russia’s own statistics, FDI is nearly nil. Thus, the desperate sales pitch.
Ivanov does try to sell some ideas they claim they have for the development of Russia’s regions (particularly in Siberia and the Far East). They are not bad ideas per se. A conversation on the subject should certainly take place. Particularly about land ownership, something that has been a problem since the end of the Cold War, and concerned Solzhenitsyn, among others.
But these people have been in power since 1999. Why haven’t they done anything about it? Ivanov, of course, has an excuse. The same trite one that we’ve heard before from this regime, actually. And in the end it comes down to the fact that they’re just victims to the oil curse.
“In the 2000s, when we had very high oil prices, the motivation for carrying out structural reforms and diversify the economy was not very high. Why should you do that, when a golden rain is pouring down on you? That is true everywhere in the world, by the way, not just in Russia.”
The victim mentality is alive and well in this regime. Somehow it is always somebody else’s fault. It doesn’t matter if it is NATO, or the EU, or the US, or some unknown third party. The point is that the regime is never to blame. This despite the fact that they have had what many would consider to be a mandate for pretty much the entire time they’ve been in power (nearly 16 years).
Ivanov also makes the same wild statements about the EU and NATO expansion that have been made previously by this regime. These have been proven to be falsehoods, but if FT did question Ivanov on the subject, it was not made clear in the article.
The condescending attitude Ivanov takes on the subject of Russia’s relations with the West also struck me. Honestly, I’m not sure if it was about gender (the interviewer was female), or Russian chauvinism. I’m not even sure it’s that significant, but it came out in numerous quotes.
I would just again question the effectiveness of these types of interviews. We already know the lies this regime tells. Is it necessary to allow them a platform to repeat them?
P.S. Ivanov also mentions his ‘primary profession’ in passing not once but twice. It’s pretty clear he means his career in the KGB, but it was also a bit amusing given the recent Andrei Illarionov piece on the recent changes Ivanov has made to his biography.