Russia’s current political structure leaves no room for any substantive parliamentary discussion. This new Expert Council will, at the very least, enable alternative viewpoints and proposals to be relayed to the prime minister, which should, at least to some extent, level out the flaws of the existing political system, which is crucial for the country’s future.
When I came back from vacation, I found out that I had been appointed to sit on the Prime Minister’s Expert Council. I can’t say this news took me entirely by surprise, because I was actually asked if I would agree to join it just before I went on holiday. I fully support the idea of setting up this Expert Council. Russia’s current political structure leaves no room for any substantive parliamentary discussion, let alone for advancement of any alternative programs and concepts that could be used by other political forces to win elections. This situation has led to the draining of the intellectual potential of the ruling elite, and this brings with it not only stagnation – something the Russian economy has been through in the past – but also a degradation of national economic policy and as a consequence flawed decision-making.
Let me stress that politicians’ mistakes are not merely a matter of making wrong decisions, but also a failure to take decisions in time. Therefore, I believe that this new Expert Council will, at the very least, enable alternative viewpoints and proposals to be relayed to the prime minister, which should, at least to some extent, level out the flaws of the existing political system, which is crucial for the country’s future.
I have met a lot of people on this Council whose opinions I value, and not a single person who I would not welcome the opportunity of speaking with. But there are obvious problems involved. Firstly, a number of the Council members are not planning to actually participate much due to the amount of work they have to do in their full time jobs. Secondly, even 200 people is too many for conducting a substantive discussion (and there are plans to expand this Council to 2,000). This means that much will depend on the way its work is organized, who will organize it and what format the discussions will take, which should definitely influence the outcome.
As for my expectations of sitting on this Council, I must say I would like this group of experts to give the prime minister a broader vision of the current realities, a deeper understanding of the problems Russia is facing, as well as the potential consequences of the decisions that are made, and a better awareness of other options and possibilities.
If some of the Council members are known to make statements and proposals that are uncomfortable for the government, this means the prime minister (who actually approved this list) wants to hear their opinion. If these people are never allowed to speak up, they are unlikely to agree to stay as part of a stage set. But whether the prime minister will actually listen to them, that is something we will have to wait and see.