"Russia is building capitalism-the sort of capitalism that sent Karl Marx into horror, in his time. Social responsibilities of business are unable to replace social responsibilities of the state. Our experience has proved the point," said Ruslan Grinberg, Director of the Institute of International Economic and Political Studies under the Russian Academy of Sciences. He was addressing a session of the Unity for Russia foundation, which gathered in Moscow yesterday, the agenda revolving round the Russian specifics of social partnership in the context of related global experience.
The session symbolically coincided with a verdict announced, after two weeks' sentence reading in courtroom, on the case of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, principal figures of the Yukos case, which gave an edge to business community relations with the public and the state-an acute issue as it was in Russia.
Political elites are to work out an ideology that would coax the Russian people-in-the-street into putting up with the outcome of privatization, which was dynamically underway in the 1990s, influential political experts pointed out. The state voluntarily passed potentially lucrative companies into private hands at token prices, while new private owners made those companies truly efficient. The new ideology is to be ready by the 2007/08 election campaigns.
Vast income gaps between the haves and the have-nots, and social guarantees shrinking apace-all that with labor unions passive and a Left opposition with no influence to speak of-are making employees ever more vulnerable and ever closer dependent on their employers. All that builds up social tensions, political and economic experts warned.
"Social balance is extremely fragile today. Hence, the upcoming pre-election campaign will demand a totally new concept for a socio-economic model that would not base on the idea of unlimited freedom of business. The campaign is to give birth to an updated idea of social stability," said Alexander Vladislavlev, General Council member of the United Russia party.
As experts pessimistically pointed out, Russia has still a long road to travel before it approaches West European patterns of social partnership, with the state withdrawing from the tripartite contract, while the business community reduces its social contribution to charity.
As political experts see it, the idea of a social state to be established will come as the most popular in the approaching election campaign.
Work on the social partnership theme has been launched on political order from the United Russia top, Vyacheslav Nikonov, Unity for Russia foundation president, said to the gathering.