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“Will Russia control Europe thanks to oil?”


Taking into account the kind of car you have is not important, because every time you fill up the tank you’re paying for the equivalent of what a Russian teacher makes a month. You’re also contributing to finance an archaic, inefficient and evil regimen. Russia began its G8 presidency by unleashing a gas-related war with Ukraine. By practically having the monopoly of supplies to Ukraine, Russia believed it could set prices to benefit itself. But, on its part, Ukraine virtually owns other supplies. Therefore, Russia had to give in as soon as gas deliveries to western Europe began to drop.
Today, the Russian economy depends on gas and oil. Since the value of these resources has increased, salaries are raised too and, consequently inflation appears. To limit it, the Russian government credits a part of the profits to a stabilization fund. But, due to the fact that the Kremlin does not trust its own stocks and bonds, the stabilization fund invests in western securities. Thus, the government misses the opportunity to modernize cities, roads, hospitals and universities of Russia. The inflation goes up and the rent is so expensive that the population is forced to commit illegalities or to live in poverty.
Russia is the example of a sad reality of our times: countries that are far from being democracies can develop themselves faster or even more than freer societies. When you have oil, buyers is all you need to be rich. Most countries with rich natural resources are not democratic. Russia used western technology and management practices to develop oil production. The first ones to do it were men like Michael Khodorkovski, who were replaced with better-placed people. But foreign leaders do not pay attention to this; some, like Gerhard Schröder, even manage subsidiaries of Gazprom.
Nowadays, Russia exchanges oil for knowledge-derived products without investing in the formation of its own specialists. It does not have the necessary amount of geologists, economists, lawyers...a gang of politicians is enough for them. In this context, educated people are dangerous and treated and even hounded as suspects, as has been done with the NGOs or opposition parties. Elections are null and void or falsified. And neighbouring countries which have no oil are blackmailed. Since they depend on gas, oil and multinational companies, G8 countries are very tolerant with current president Vladimir Putin. But perhaps the arrogance of Russian leaders has gone beyond what the West is willing to tolerate. Western societies should boycott the Russian gas.

Daily Star (Lebanon)
Taipei Times (Taiwan)
Korea Herald (South Korea)
Daily Times (Pakistan)
La Vanguardia (Spain)

’Oil-for-skills’ scheme fortifies Russian regime”, by Alexander Etkind, Taipei Times, January 13, 2006.
Paradojas del petróleo y gas ruso”, La Vanguardia, January 13, 2006.
Russia’s ’oil-for-knowledge’ scheme”, Korea Herald, January 14, 2006.
Illiberal Russia produces oil growth, but can it enjoy this?”, Daily Star, January 17, 2006.
Russia’s ‘oil-for-knowledge’ scheme”, Daily Times, January 19, 2006.

Alexander Etkind

Alexander Etkind Alexander Etkin is professor of Russian studies at Cambridge University.

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