of Vladislav Surkov’s recent interview with Alexander Chudodeyev at Itogi. I want to go through this line by line with a red pen, because that is what I generally do with Slava’s interviews. In general, I feel like Slava is saying the right things, but I am not convinced that he is being entirely honest. He repeats several times the fact that Russia is “a raw material country”, and seems to imply that he sees this as a bad thing.
…our society is not yet a contractor of innovations. We are a raw material country, not only by the essence of our economy, but also by our mentality. Domestic business is still not oriented toward an understanding of the fact that the main competitive advantage is unique knowledge or technologies.
And later, Surkov is even more severe:
If we remain a raw material power, we are doomed to stagnation. In principle, the problem consists not only of the primitive nature of a raw material economy, of its weakness and vulnerability. There is also a political aspect to this. If there is no active intellectual activity in the country, then it is boring to live there. If today we have drilled three holes in the earth, and tomorrow we will drill four, this cannot be a goal for society. Society cannot live by that. Raw material societies are more inclined toward stagnation. We must recognize that, if we do not transform ourselves, we are doomed if not to disintegration and ruin, then to defeat in the world competitive struggle and to a rather dismal existence.
I do not see that being “a raw material country” is a totally bad thing. However, being solely reliant on your raw materials is bad, because, obviously, the forests, and the gas, and the ore etc. will not last forever. And that may be what Slava is saying, and I misunderstood. But if you are (or were) getting money from those raw materials, what prevented you from investing a portion of that money in innovations to other sectors? I’ll tell you what prevented it, your own greed!
All that to say, the interview may only be interesting because Slava rarely gives interviews. But it is at least worth looking over.