Speaking Volapük

The Russian government made the following announcements on Twitter yesterday:

And shortly thereafter:

Despite the expert advice that has been offered by highly respected Russian economists (Sonin & Kudrin), it seems the Kremlin is determined to go its own way.

In a blog post on the Russian news portal Rosbalt yesterday, columnist Sergei Leskov commented on this phenomenon:

We do not want to admit that the main reason for the [economic] crisis is the systemic flaws in the economy and governance.

In 2008, he writes, the government responded to the economic downturn by pumping money into the banks.

For some reason it is believed that there is nothing more important for the economy than the prosperity of the banks. At the expense of the real sector and industrial development.

The dominance of oligarchic business, monopolies, and state intervention in the economy are the inevitable companions of corruption, he writes. The antidote is small and medium businesses who are invested in civil society, fair elections, and independent courts. But, Leskov says, the current bureaucratic environment is not conducive to such a change.

The share of small and medium business in Russia makes up only 12-15% of the GDP, while in developed economies it is 60-70%.

He then mentions (as I did last week) that the Russian Central Bank is “robbing banks of their licenses”. Everybody involved knows this is happening. The only one who doesn’t is the public prosecutor, Leskov jokes.

We… talk about the curse of oil dependence. In the Soviet Union, with all its inefficiencies, the share of oil exports accounted for 19% [of the economy]. In Russia it is more than 50%.

Who forced us to do this, Leskov asks rhetorically.

We dug a hole for the economy and the national currency with our own hands.

He concludes by observing that the government refuses to listen and at times it seems that they are speaking a different language:

In the 19th century, when the world began to experience the first signs of what was later referred to as globalisation, attempts were made to invent a universal means of communication for everyone. The Catholic priest Johann Schleyer invented the language Volapük. It was first met with enthusiasm, but soon the experiment stalled. Now Volapük is a figurative term for meaningless and incoherent speech. The users of Volapük number now only 30 people. The number of members of our cabinet. When ministers talk about the economy, it seems to me that they speak Volapük.


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