The Economist | SOCHI, September 7, 2010
The Valdai club is an annual meeting of academics, historians and commentators who have an interest in Russia. Yesterday we met Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. The moods of the participants were very different. Most of the Valdai club members were pessimistic about Russia's future, but a relaxed Mr Putin seemed chipper.
Before meeting Mr Putin, the group had held anguished discussions about where Russia was heading. Even the Russian members were mostly glum, with many saying that the country’s size, climate and history made autocracy and lack of freedom almost inevitable. The economic prognosis was equally downbeat. A survey of opinion among the club’s members, called the Valdai index, came to some harsh conclusions. It suggested that there was a “tendency toward stagnation in Russia.” And it commented that “there is practically no real modernisation, restructuring or diversification, oil and gas remain the main sources of revenue, corruption continues unchecked and there is almost zero innovation.”
Continue reading here:
Vladimir Putin's Valdai vision