Is the MVD getting into the macroeconomics game, or hinting at criticism of the Kremlin?

My eye was caught by a RIA Novosti news item today. For the sake of completeness, here’s the original and a hasty and rough translation:

МВД ожидает стабилизации общественно-политической ситуации в России

20:26 28.10.2013
Согласно ожиданиям министерства, определенный вклад в улучшение экономической ситуации внесет и оптимизация работы системы МВД.

МОСКВА, 28 окт — РИА Новости. Россию в долгосрочной перспективе ждет “стабилизация общественно-политической ситуации” и рост макроэкономических показателей, предполагает МВД в проекте программы обеспечения общественного порядка и противодействия преступности.

“В долгосрочной перспективе (5-10 лет) в результате принимаемых государством последовательных мер предполагается стабилизация общественно-политической ситуации в стране и устойчивый рост экономики”, — говорится в документе, размещенном в понедельник на портале раскрытия информации о подготовке нормативных актов.

Согласно ожиданиям министерства, определенный вклад в улучшение экономической ситуации внесет и оптимизация работы системы МВД.

“Принимаемые государством меры по улучшению социально-экономического положения и совершенствованию деятельности органов внутренних дел Российской Федерации приведут к существенному улучшению макроэкономических показателей и найдут необходимую поддержку среди широких слоев населения”, — отмечается в документе.

And in (rough) English:

The MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) expects a stabilization of the political situation in Russia

20:262 8.10.2013
According to the expectations of the ministry,  the improvement of the economic situation will contribute to and optimize the work of the MVD.

MOSCOW, Oct. 28 – RIA Novosti. Russia in the long term is awaiting  the “stabilization of the political situation” and an improvement in macroeconomic indicators, suggests the MVD, in its draft program for maintaining public order and combating crime.

“In the long term ( 5-10 years), as a result of successive measures taken by the State. there will be a stabilization of the political situation in the country and steady economic growth,” said in a document, posted on the website in accordance with public disclosure regulations.

The ministry expects that an improvement of the economic situation will contribute to and  optimize the work of the MVD.

“The measures the government has adopted to improve the socio-economic situation and improve the activities of the internal affairs agencies of the Russian Federation will lead to a significant improvement in macroeconomic indicators and gain the necessary support among the general population,” the document says.

Oops. Did we really just say that?

Oops. Did we really just say that?

So, why did this catch my eye? First of all, it struck me as quite unusual that the MVD would actually get into the business of predicting when it expects Russia’s microeconomic situation to improve. I look forward to hearing the Finance Ministry’s take on the terrorist threat to Sochi, next. Secondly, it is rare — indeed, almost unprecedented — that we hear the MVD drawing a direct connection between its work (in other words, levels of crime and public unrest) and the economic situation. Finally, though, I was struck by that 5-10 year timeline. It may be accurate, it may be over-optimistic, but nonetheless here we have a government agency, a silovik one at that, admitting not only that things are quite bad now (and that this has a public order dimension) but that there will be no substantial improvement for up to a decade. I may well be reading rather too much into this, but I could almost see in that an implicit critique of Putin and Medvedev. Of course, it may be an attempt to divert blame for such problems as occur (though usually the blame is shifted downwards or across, not upwards) or simply that this is the objective judgement of professionals within the MVD. But even so, public statements like this–distributed by RIA Novosti, at that–do not tend to materialize organically, they are carefully-crafted, politically-screened. Either someone erred, or Interior Minister Kolokoltsev’s MVD is definitely a lot more outspoken, realistic and, frankly, ballsy than that of his predecessor, perennial political yes-man Nurgaliev.

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  1. The first question after I read the REA Novosti was “So what”? Well, reading of subsequent “interpretation” have brought even more confusion. It has immediately reminded me one popular Russian movie’s hero who said: :”It is hard to find a black cat in a dark room. Especially when there is no cat at all in this room”. Well, in contemporary Russian politics value of words said at any level is gradually decreasing from year to year. It doesn’t matter what they say but what they do. For those who do not understand simplicity of natural resources based barbarian politics, MVD has been a watchdog for profit based Putin “State Corporation” for a decade already. True that MVD eats from this table and wants to continue. That is simply why some “economic words” might spark publicly once in a while. They just mean “We are here. We are still on guard. And you will need us even more within the next 5-10 years; especially because some “bolotnaya-type-of-the-public” wants to get off leash”…. What? Did you really say “critique of Putin and Medvedev”? I can’t believe you might think this way. Nothing. Nothing any close like that. Sorry. And nothing like “carefully-crafted” or “politically-screened”. Look, in most cases, Russian current politics is based on barbarian greediness and absurdity. Of course, the way how some Western scholars attempt to explain tones of meaningless actions and words of Russian political beau monde is appreciated – in a sense of the West trying to see Russian political consciousness as equal. Well, it is not equal. It is different and more primitive and predatory. It still operates on medieval mind sets, to say the least…. Senseless piece of information by the Novosti agency. No consequences. No deep sense or conspiracy. Just continuation of the bla-bla-bla show in the epoch of “untouchables” continuing their accumulation of capital… Good luck Mark with more serious issues research and analysis.

    • Mark Galeotti

       /  October 29, 2013

      I dare say you won’t be surprised to hear I don’t agree. In terms of tone and content, this is unlike the previous stream of comment and releases we’ve seen from the MVD (and I read more than my fair share of it!). I can’t guarantee that my take is correct, but I do feel comfortable asserting that such a shift in gear means something.

  2. Aren’t the MVD’s statements vetted by the Kremlin before they’re published? I.e., wouldn’t it be unusual for the MVD to speak without prior approval of the Kremlin?

    • Mark Galeotti

       /  October 29, 2013

      No more than every US government agency is approved by the White House. Sure, major press releases, pronouncements by Kolokoltsev on TV, that kind of thing, but just as even in Soviet times we could see institutions and interest groups putting their own spin on things, especially in less substantive releases (and I happened to come across this in RIA but it’s not exactly been front-page news), so too it’s possible to see today. Now, if Kolokoltsev then goes on to reiterate these points, then either (a) he had Kremlin OK or (b) he’s sticking his neck out. But I don’t expect that to happen any time soon.

    • ….There is no need to verify every move with Kremlin, since the Russian code of feudal capitalist ethics is well-learned and understood by now. You can say whatever you wish as long as your words do not challenge established status quo. It is like in a hierarchy of criminals in typical Russian prison. As long as you do not challenge the power and authority of “pakhans”/”Vory v zakone” and of the order of things set by them, you do not have to run for every single approval to their “level”.


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