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Modern Russia: the ways of modernization

Since the time of its existence Russia was on the brink of collapse aminimum of 3 times. Loosing statehood was almost always accompanied by revolutionary changes of the political system, which were endogenous and as arule led to external threat. Every time such events were caused by qualitative reorganization, fulfilling the modernization function.

The modern world is getting more and more complicated with a number of players, the configuration of players on the world arena, and the resources of power. It gives Russia a choice to abandon such development logic where all qualitative changes are done through breaking of the current political system. The next change is likely to be fatal for Russia with its present borders and current transformations in geopolitical balance of power. There with, under the new conditions there are, undoubtedly, more ways of development and a wider diapason of possible trajectories of development.

The current agenda set by the president D.Medvedev is based on the concept of modernization. In our opinion, the need in a significant change has been brewing for a long time, since 1990 after the failure of democratization of the political process and adoption of market economy. Those were also modernization efforts which did not lead to the desired results.

At the present day the state power can be determined by different factors. The strength of the country has always been compared to the number and fighting capacity of the armed forces. In the modern world mainly the most developed countries (not considering local military conflicts between small countries) have this need. Some countries of Great Britain or micro states that do not have a regular army can be an example. A second (and basic for others) option would be economic supremacy. Natural resources create opportunities for export of raw materials and getting profit.The problem of non renewable natural resources and economical dependence makes this option less attractive (till adoption of alternative sources of energy). 

Dragged-out military reform and economy based on raw materials are the two vulnerable components of the internal political development in Russia. Success in modernization in these spheres depends on whether the government of the country can head for dismantlement of authoritarian practices and formation of democratic institutes of power. Qualitative transformation is possible through solving such chronic ailments of Russia as corruption, the problem of changing of power and adoption of democracy.

Lets consider the first two tasks. A well-known expression about the leading role of economy over other sectors of social development does not cause any doubt. But according to the plans of the Russian government, 22 trillion rubles will be spent on military reform by 2020. It is obvious, that such an idea comes from keeping the oil prices high as in the nearest future income from oil is not forecasted to fall. Keeping a high price for a barrel, except from the planned complete retrofitting of the armed forces,  influences the success of fulfilling social responsibilities by the government, such as paying pensions, allowances, scholarships, increasing salaries for the military.  In fact, high prices for oil and export-oriented character of the Russian economy during V. Putins presidency allowed the Russian government to achieve stability. In other words, Russia was lucky. If the price went down to 20-30 dollars per barrel, many reforms were most likely to be brought to a close.

The other and more prospective development factor is a non economic option. Cultural and scientific ways of development can be considered. Implementation of a cultural component of the modernizationproject is in tourism sphere development and increasing attractiveness of Russian regions as the places of historical heritage of the world level (for example Baikal Lake). Some of the successful examples are Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, which became the centers of tourism, and income from tourism in some of the countries form a significant part of the budget. Russia possesses huge opportunities due to its vast territory, climatic zones, multi ethnic and multicultural population.

Scientific option presupposes the formation of intellectual potential and creation of high-technology industries. Planning of the construction of scientific-innovative center Skolkovo (an attempt to create a Russian Silicon Valley) can be considered as one of the first steps made in this direction.  The problem of brain drain is not such a burning issue any more, which means that there is an opportunity to grow intellectual potential in the country. However, we should admit that competitiveness of Russian science at the present Russia is preserved mainly due to Soviet groundwork and unfortunately is gradually decreasing.

Each of these ways of development can be implemented by Russia. It is guaranteed that Russia will keep its leading positions in any of the industries even in case of unfavorable external conditions and losing its first place in any other industry. In our opinion,all of the options (with the partial exception of the economic one) are not being implemented.

The greatest success in combining these ways of development was achieved by the United States of America, Japan, and recently China. These countries are the leaders according to GDP level, scientific potential, and have a claim on being called cultural countries (the USA as a country with a high standard of living, Japan and China as tourism destinations).

There are many internal problems facing the modern Russia. The position of the country on the world geopolitical arena depends on the quality and the speed of solving them. In terms of strategic planning, there is a good prospect of keeping a competitive edge on the world level at least for the nearest decade. However, at the present day Russia has a status of a regional state which could also be lost if it remains idle.

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