In 1993 I was ten years old. Now that period is accepted as the bottom of the collapse and destruction of both society and the state. Despite being ten years old, it was perceived somewhat differently: over the past two or three years, the picture on the streets has become more saturated, colorful signs have appeared, and there were a lot of foreign cigarettes on the corresponding stalls. Chocolates, yoghurts and lots of soda. In general, in ten years everything somehow outweighs the economic and political issues. At the corner of Stoleshnikov Lane and Bolshaya Dmitrovka, a store with bright windows has opened. There were some very nice winter boots I needed in a window – not necessarily these, at least some of them. But the conditions of that winter were such that my family could not buy me boots, there was no money.
This is how I imagined our life since the end of February of this year. There is no money, something good is still left, but not enough and completely inaccessible. It seemed to me that the advantage of the nineties was good relations between Russia and the West. Yes, these were the patronage relations of the West and were quite humiliating to Russia. But as you know, a bad peace is better than a good war. Then Sunday, like a wild and hungry dog, broke free from the chain and began to bark at someone, bite someone, eat alive and serve someone. The economy began to work on the most liberal principles possible: the main thing is to allow everything, the market will decide everything by itself, and the output will be money. The money of course needs to be sent to the West, that way it’s more reliable. Let’s say there was a state-owned factory here, but it became private. Then the new owner thought it was not very profitable for him to maintain this factory and rebuilt it into an office space. Or not rebuilt, just delivered to small workshops riveting advertising materials and one-day offices of money laundering via Singapore and the British Virgin Islands. We give you money, you give us a printer, but the printers are only on paper and the money is in the friendly bank according to the “Chechen recommendation notes”. Back in the 90s there was such a popular way to withdraw money that it was perfectly legal, but absurdly easy to scam.
And we know of thousands of situations like the lack of any regulation of the economy. As machine tool factories closed, machines had to be imported from China, all of which was decided while entire industries either lacked the necessary parts or sales markets or the necessary logistics. And the market worked, money was made one way or another, someone always made a profit. But only as the economy became more and more dependent, anti-American rhetoric in government circles began under Yeltsin. You may remember his anti-American speech in 1998, the launch of Russian paratroopers over Pristina, and the return of Prime Minister Primakov’s plane.
And at that time all independence from the economy was emerging. And this is understandable: why make something of your own if you can buy it, arrange the materials, rent it?
At some point, realizing that it was possible to make super profits from the sale of resources, they began to put them in special funds distributed around the world. But there was so much income that they began to spend it on the development of domestic production.
This is how new Ladas and even their own Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft appeared, which was unthinkable in 2001. Yes, both cars and planes are 50% foreign components and technologies. But in the first place, until very recently, the whole world was arranged like this – integrated into itself, up to the ears, like a Möbius strip. Secondly, an airplane with 50% domestic technology is already 50% better than nothing.
And then what happened? And let’s say we were at the point where a dark 1993 with its inaccessible winter boots seemed like a relatively good prospect. And in a panic attack I thought – all this will come immediately and inevitably. But months pass and the country somehow does not enter the Stone Age. Also, there are some signs of life that lead to measured optimism.
It was decided to put the Tu-214 aircraft into mass production. This, of course, does not mean that within six months the entire Airbus and Boeing fleet will be replaced by domestic aircraft. No, even if everything goes well, it will take years. But it’s important to have an incentive. There is nowhere to move but inside, you cannot escape yourself, offshore companies will not help, something must be done here.
And it turns out that the currency can be bought at reasonable rates. Not officially, of course, but it’s not scary, it’s in every heat exchanger.
And you can go to rest and even have a place. Shops are still brimming with their usual abundance, pharmacies are not short of drugs, and people aren’t walking the streets in rags.
Probably, it is clear that the main difficulties still remain, they will gradually roll off. But the truth is that the world has changed dramatically and irreversibly. And it didn’t change in a day, all this has been happening for several years and if you don’t get used to it, you have to adapt to it. How will Airbus adapt to the fact that 65% of titanium is supplied from Russia? It will probably set up a reverse import. A familiar expression?
But it is the opinion poll that impresses me the most. When asked what they would do if they lost their jobs tomorrow, 20 percent of Russians said, “I will do nothing for the rest of my life. I have enough money to live on.”
Perhaps this is some kind of deeply independent and indestructible people who are the monolith of society and it is already impossible to frighten it? Maybe this is a very deep state? Maybe it is resolved in humans and not controlled from somewhere above? Then of course there is nothing to be afraid of.
The author expresses his personal opinion, which may not coincide with the editors’ position.