Russian website says Medvedev's "modernization" bid unlikely to succeed; Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. London: Feb 4, 2011.
Yezhednevnyy Zhurnal website, Moscow, in Russian 3 Feb 11/BBC Monitoring
Text of report by anti-Kremlin Russian current affairs website Yezhednevnyy Zhurnal on 3 February
[Article by Aleksandr Golts: "Innovation - queen of the fields?" (Yezhednevnyy Zhurnal Online)]
Last year's US visit by Dmitriy Medvedev for modernization and innovation experience could not help but evoke an association with the unforgettable visit by Nikita Sergeyevich Khruschev to the prominent American corn grower. And the attempts to forcefully compel the captains of Russian industry to engage in innovations are becoming ever more reminiscent of the party's economic decrees on introducing the "queen of the fields" on the vast Russian expanses.
Something similar took place in recent days in Arzamas. The acting president rattled his sabers and demonstrated his managerial anger. It turns out that -oh, horrors! - the heads of the state corporations had assumed a casual attitude towards the instruction of the nominal head of state, issued as long as a year ago. Instead of programmes for development and introduction of innovations, some presented formal excuses, while most of the state corporations ignored Medvedev's demands altogether. "The main problem consists of the fact that the corporation management - and also the profile-related ministries in Government - still do not view this task as being the top priority," Medvedev concluded. And he sternly demanded that they prepare proposals on disciplinary responsibility of specific managers within two week's time.
And so that everyone understands that the place-holder is seriously inclined, the head of the United Aviation Construction Corporation (OAK), Aleksey Fedorov, was dismissed for having a careless attitude towards innovation. The decision is a suspicious one. We may recall that one of the main projects of the OAK is the development of a fifth generation fighter jet. That is, a plane which in principle must represent the combination of tens, if not hundreds, of the most varied innovations. It would seem, this is an either-or situation. Either the fighter jet does not contain any breakthrough technologies, or the manager was fired for something else entirely (disruption of deliveries of planes to Jordan and problems with the recently submitted presidential airliner are cited as possible versions), and the innovations were just an excuse.
A stenogram of the meeting leads us to believe that, most likely, it was the latter. Heads of state corporations were being panned not for the lack of some specific work in the field of high technologies. The president gave them the dressing down because they did not meet up to certain purely formal indicators. For example, by volumes of financing R&D (despite the fact that most of the money comes from the state budget), or by number of patents. Or perhaps the reason for the dissatisfaction was the lack of "innovation commissioners" -special supervisors, who answer for seeking out and introducing high technologies.
There is no doubt that, by the next meeting, the chastised directors will qualitatively improve their indicators. There will be mass financing of R&D, which will not bring any results. Ultimately, is it not all the same by what article you cut up the budget, if the system is arranged in such a way that the expenditures are borne by the state, while the income is privatized? New high-paid positions will appear. Even the number of patents will increase. After all, if we wanted to, we could patent even an innovative shape of a donut hole. And the fact that there will be no technological breakthroughs -that we will learn a bit later. Under a different leader, who, I suspect, will not be so devoted to the idea of modernization.
The meeting participants were stubbornly quiet about the main reason for the anti-innovative mindset of the leaders of industry. Medvedev's predecessor had selected such a model of organization of industry, which in principle contradicts any development. In essence, all of these vertically constructed state corporations are monopolies. They have no competitors. They have in fact handed over production of consumer goods to foreign producers (meanwhile, today it is specifically civilian commodity production that is the main source of high technologies). The heads of the Russian state corporations are convinced that state consumers will take whatever they produce, without any innovations. Modernization, as the classic taught us, inevitably leads to decay. The exceptions - such as Rosatom (which has a colossal Soviet stockpile and at the expense of which it can compete on the foreign market) -are merely a confirmation of this rule.
Nikita Sergeyevich has gone down in Russian folklore as the "corn grower." Dmitriy Anatolyevich has every chance of being remembered as the "innovator."
Credit: Yezhednevnyy Zhurnal website, Moscow, in Russian 3 Feb 11
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