The agents and sympathizers of modernization

Tisdag, 21. December 2010     0 kommentti(a)
Katri Pynnöniemi
Äldre forskare - programmet EU:s östra grannskap och Ryssland

In my briefing paper published in November 2010 I wrote about the ‘agents’ and ‘symphatizers’ of modernization. The story was as follows.

In mid-September a group of State Duma deputies from the Fair Russia party led by Gennadi Gudkov, the head of Duma’s security committee, established a social movement named after President Medvedev’s famous article “Forward Russia”. The movement calls for the restoration of the election of regional heads and, in more general terms, the consolidation of parliamentarism in Russia. The group prompted a quick response from the authorities. Within a few weeks, the United Russia party had created a parallel movement aimed at bringing together “participants” of the modernization, rather than those just “sympathizing” with the cause, as Boris Gryslov, chair of the supreme council of the United Russia party, has put it.     

Back in November I was wondering whether the two movements work in “tandem”, in a typical ‘virtual politics’ fashion. Or perhaps the simultaneous emergence of these two movements does actually reveal the real factions within the ruling tandem. If this was the case, then the question of whether one is a participant or a sympathizer of modernization takes on a whole new dimension.

The second option seems more plausible at the moment.

RIA Novosti reported in Monday (20.12.2010) that the Justice Ministry had refused to register Gudkov’s “Go, Russia” movement citing irregularities in the submitted documents. Gudkov said to the Moscow Times (21.12.2010) that he will appeal the ministry’s decision in court. 

In the meantime, the movement organized by the United Russia party has consolidated its position. In October 6, it held its first public forum in which President Medvedev also participated. Last week, the agents of modernization rejoined at the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo where they had the first “all-Russian innovation forum “Forward, Russia!”. In the event, President Medvedev marked the coordinates of the point where the construction of the laboratories and other infrastructure for the “Skolkovo Innovation City” will start.

But wait! The story does not end here.

Yesterday (20.12.2010) the Government Commission on High Technology and Innovation led by Prime Minister Putin held its meeting in Zelenograd.This commission, unlike the one headed by President Medvedev, oversees the development of the Russian scientific-technical complex and the innovation system and makes decisions that executive agencies (ministries, government agencies, and so on) are obliged to follow. Putin’s message in the meeting was simple: the work for the promotion of Russian science and innovations has been going on already for the last ten years.

As a proof of the fact, the meeting took place in Zelenograd at the “Zelenоgrad innovation and technology centre” (ZITC). According to center’s web-pages, it was founded in 1998 and implements together with the Moscow state institute of electronic technology (technical university) (MIET) a project on creating the first Technological village in Russia.

Now the inner logic of the tandem politics is becoming clearer. Even if there is no actual split within the ruling tandem the mere existence of the two parallel power centers reinforces two simultaneous realities. The one in which there exists “the First Technological Village of Russia” and another in which Russia’s “First innogorod at Skolkovo” was just given its GPS/GLONASS equivalent coordinates.

Within these two parallel worlds there is no place for the agents and sympathizers of active youth groups that occupy the very real space of a very real Moscow


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