The Valdai Discussion Club Foundation, in cooperation with its partners, launched a new research project on Eurasian integration with a workshop in Shanghai on November 16-17. The aim of the project is to examine the entire Eurasian space in four dimensions and from four perspectives. The four dimensions are economic, political, security and social; and the four perspectives are Russian, Central Asian, Chinese and EU/US.
Over 200 Russian and foreign experts attended the 10th meeting of the Valdai Club. The participants focus on analyzing the internal processes and external challenges to work out a vision of Russia in the future.
Evaluating Russia’s development index during the annual poll this year, experts of the Valdai Discussion Club spoke positively about the country's growing role in national, regional and global security, foreign policy and soft power. Most negative assessment was given to performance of Russia’s political institutions, public confidence in them and the dynamics of economic development.
The research poll analyses five basic valuable aspects of contemporary Russian identity. In particular, the respondents were proposed to reflect over following principal aspects: culture, religion, ethnicity, self-identification, patriotism etc.
This report is based on discussions held at the Valdai Club's Middle East Dialogue conference, which took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, on May 14-15, 2013. The event was attended by high-profile politicians from the Middle East and North Africa, including leaders of Islamist movements, as well as prominent experts, analysts and journalists from Russia and around the world.
The Church’s unwise actions and its inability to think several moves ahead have led to this scandal over Pussy Riot, which is now being discussed in public and political circles of the world’s leading countries.
If Russia's government was more gender-balanced, politics in this country would have a more human touch to it, with more money allocated for medicine, education, science and the like. The predominance of men in politics results in unreasonably high spending on defense and the oil & gas industry, leaving public services in the backseat.
Russian authorities do not understand what Islam means for Russia as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. Their logic is too simplistic. They believe that there is a good Islam that is loyal to them, and there is a bad Islam that is aimed at destabilizing the country. No attention is paid to the profound processes that are taking place in Russia’s Muslim community.
If the state declares that patriotic films or films promoting ethnic harmony are what the nation needs now, there will be two or three such films made and that will be the end of it. The problem is that you cannot make people pay to see these films and movie theaters will lose money.
The nationalist “illness” is far advanced in Russia. But this does not mean that it is incurable or that it cannot be minimized. We should learn from the Russian Empire and particularly from the Soviet Union, which offer many positive examples and some negative ones too.
Russia will not accept an alien national idea, be it the American Dream or anything else. That’s why all attempts to create, copy or borrow someone else’s national idea have fallen flat. The most important national idea was formulated by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his essay “Live Not by Lies.”
The Russian web is a sort of public intermediate space, and obviously it was very useful for the opponents to criticize the government or the regional authorities. From this point of view, it is very important to be observed to try to anticipate some changes in Russian politics in the next two years.
New ties between Russia and Japan would mark not only a breakthrough in their relations but also a significant shift in Northeast Asia’s political dynamic. Both are secondary players in a region overshadowed by an increasingly assertive China, which has not hesitated to push against the boundaries of its neighbors.
The structure of Nagorno-Karabakh is a Canton-like. There were regions dominated by the Azerbaijanis, there were regions dominated by the Armenians. Without the return of all the people who would like to go back there, we cannot talk about any recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh or discussions of this issue.
Violent suppression of protests can lead not to stabilization but just the opposite. It forces Yanukovych to seek solidarity only in Moscow. It puts Russia in a position where it will again be involved in Ukrainian politics. And in this murky swamp, we have repeatedly gotten bogged down.
The consequences of marketisation and competitive capitalism in Russia not only changed the form of inequalities but greatly amplified them both between and within regions. There is a polarisation between the rich and the poor in the richest areas which is paralleled, though to a slightly less unequal extent, in the poorer regions. The same economic principles work in all regions, despite some being more poorly endowed than others.