18 October 2015

Kremlin's view of international commerce: via the gun sight

Russian economy is suffering the effect of Western sanctions, imposed after annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and warmongering in the eastern Ukraine. This is not news. The Russian press coined a term "импортозамещение", which is, rather in German style, a combo of two words: "import" and "replacement" - meaning the activities, supposedly blessed by the government, having the aim of producing own products to enable Russia to do without Western technology, foodstuffs and other imports.

A brainstorming congress, described in this article, produced speeches by some leading Russian scientists, complaining about the lack of funding, the overly dominant role played by the military in defining the development of new technologies, the insufficient support of export etc.

All this, however, paled in comparison with the speech by one Dmitry Marinichev, the Internet tzar in the Putin's court. This speech is what I shall try to translate (partly), after giving you the above background.

"This forum brought together the most intelligent people, but you're a little mistaken," - appealed to the scientists Dmitry Marinichev, the Internet Ombudsman under President (appointed in 2014 and responsible for the communications and the internet commerce, reporting to the President). "Today United States hold a monopoly on technology throughout the market, - was the explanation of the political situation by the ombudsman. - US offer different technologies to countries like children's erector sets. And all the other countries are beginning to compete - who better to construct a car and who is better with an aircraft. The basic, key elements in each Chinese product are controlled by the US."

"It is impossible to do anything for import replacement within our country, - continued the president's ombudsman.- We have a very small market, a sandpit, an aquarium, compared to the world's oceans." According to him, Russia will be able to begin mass production of microprocessors and related technology, in principle, but only if these products will be bought by the whole world. "But we can sell our technology to other countries only when we have a military presence (there). When the other countries will not have an alternative to purchasing from us," - frankly admitted Marinichev. According to him, Russia is facing "serious enough" choice: "Either we are in the catalysis(*) of our military relations with the United States and tell them that we are a new source of power. But we must understand that it means passive(**) or active military actions in the sphere of (US) influence."

The second option, said Dmitry Marinichev, is to follow most of the countries previously called "world scientific centers." "They just decided on their participation in the international division of labor - ombudsman derisively commented on the successes of other countries. - Someone began making machines, someone - milk, someone - transistors. But they are resigned to a vassal state in the global market of labor, information and technology. We can not accept this because of our historical ambitions, our knowledge and our capabilities(***)."
(Emphasis mine).

Yep. Quite open in his (or his master's) brand of realpolitik/realkommerse, isn't he? Even knowing the thuggish ways of the Russian leaders, this is a shocking declaration. And if the Western leaders(****) disregard this trend, be it on their heads.

(*) The use of that word is somewhat of a mystery. Most probably, being in a company of distinguished scientists, the Ombudsman wanted to sound scientifically, thus the result. What he meant in reality (catharsis, catastrophe, catacomb?) will remain unknown.

(**) What is a passive military action? Dunno.

(***) These mysterious capabilities, mentioned in a meeting dedicated to the lack thereof are kinda... er... mysterious.

(****) I know, I know. Not much of a leadership at the moment. But this is what we have, unfortunately.