NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Russians are Pro-Market Now

April 7, 2000

However much communists and other parties in Russia may disagree on such issues as the welfare state, they are agreed on the need for market-oriented policies. That is the conclusion of a growing number of Russia-watchers, who argue that even the communists no longer want total state control over the economy.

  • They claim that the elections both in 1996 and last December demonstrate that a consensus has formed between leftist and rightist parties that pro-market reforms must continue.
  • That is not to say that there is total agreement on the future of the welfare state, taxes and land privatization, however.
  • Michael McFaul, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, believes there's no turning back now from economic reforms because although there is "a solid minority who do not like the market reforms... there's a bigger solid majority that wants to continue."
  • Heritage Foundation fellow Ariel Cohen observes that Russia doesn't have the resources for "separate, stand-alone development" -- so it will have to integrate with the West and develop a lot of goodwill there.

While it may be within President Vladimir Putin's capability to turn authoritarian and jeopardize economic reform -- as well as jeopardizing Russia's relatively free press -- the experts don't see him taking that route.

Cohen says that Putin "wants to be accepted by Western leaders as one of them." In order to do that, he adds, "you don't go and jail journalists. You don't go and shoot up a bunch of people."

Source: Douglas Austin, "Russia May Move to Market System, Even Communists Back the Approach," Investor's Business Daily, April 7, 2000.


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