Staunton, August 30 – According to the Global Wealth Report, Russia leads the world in terms of inequality of wealth with the top one percent having 71 percent of the wealth of the country, a far higher figure than in other countries, including the United States, according to Moscow commentator Igor Yakovenko.
But what is worse about this is that those at the top of the wealth pyramid in Russia generally go there not by their own efforts as is the case in the West but rather by raiding state assets and selling them off and have not displayed the inclination to philanthropy that Western billionaires typically do (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=55E1D63C9A0CE).
Tragically, Yakovenko says, the situation in Russia reflects not some short term conjunction of events as many think but rather deeper problems that did not arise with Vladimir Putin and will not end with his ouster, however desirable that may be. And he points to “two historic sources” of “’the Russian world.’”
On the one hand is the Mongol horde, whose heritage to Russia was the denial of any notion of justice. “The victor gets everything.” The vanquished nothing, and “any good thing comes only from the powers that be,” a view shared by Catherine the Great, Joseph Stalin and now Putin.
On the other hand as a source of Russian values, he points out, is Russian Orthodoxy, which “in contrast to Western Christendom orients the individual to life after death and not to success in present-day life.” That is why, Yakovenko continues, “there aren’t any successful Orthodox countries in the world.”
“Culture can stimulate progress or it can be a brake. Russian culture in all its greatness … has become a brake on the progress of the country. It is capable of developing geniuses who escaping abroad can become Nobel laureates and make a contribution to the development of other countries” but not to their own.
“The current sense that once Putin is removed, the country will quickly move toward progress and flourishing is thus an illusion,” the commentator continues. “It is a very dangerous minimization of the size of the task ahead. Putin undoubtedly is the chief part of visible evil” and his removal and trial are “an obvious tactical task.”
But even if that happens, Yakovenko says, it “will not create the conditions for progress of the country and will not guarantee a revanchist return of Putinism in another packaging.” Other countries have succeeded in overcoming this kind of challenge, but Russia hasn’t – and if it fails this time, he concludes, it may not get another chance.