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The End of Pragmatism

Author: Maria Antonova

Jan/Feb 2015
Note Book
Page 7   ( 1 pages)

Summary: As the economy's crisis deepens, President Putin is increasingly focusing on intangibles.


Remember President Putin’s speeches from a few years back? A considerable portion of those public addresses, including the annual state of the nation, was taken up by a mind-numbing laundry list of numbers: Russia’s GDP growth, the square meters of housing that had been added, the percentage of value science added to the Russian economy, the amount by which unemployment payouts had been augmented, the number of hours children should dedicate to physical education, and the change in output by various Russian industries.

There was a time when the practical, money-conscious president knew how to lull journalists to sleep with facts and figures, keeping them waiting for his earth-shattering policy pronouncements, taking refuge in economic figures when asked a tricky question.

That Putin is no more.

As Russia sinks deeper into a Ukraine crisis set in motion by the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, Putin’s priorities have shifted away from the economy. His latest address, in December, was not peppered with economic figures. In fact, several analysts remarked on Putin’s detachment from economic reality and his new focus on intangibles. In his speech, the president called Crimea “sacred” to Russia, for example, and he touted Russia’s resilience in the face of evil Western sanctions, which he compared to the toughness of the Soviet Union in the face of Nazi Germany’s assault in World War II.

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