Robert Skidelsky
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Articles from Vedomosti (Ведомости)

Prime Ministers and Presidents
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, June 28, 2007

 
Almost all countries require their political leaders to relinquish power before they are ready to. Different political systems have different exit requirements. Tony Blair, who stepped down yesterday after ten years as British prime minister, was under no constitutional obligation to leave. Formally, a British prime minister exercises power on behalf of the Queen, who has no fixed term. Nor does her prime minister. Within any period of five years he can call a general election whenever it suits him (on the Queen’s behalf, of course.) If he keeps on winning these elections and (more importantly) his party thinks he can go on doing so, he can stay in power indefinitely. It was because the Labour Party decided that Blair could not win it

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What are the chances of another world depression?
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, June 14, 2007

 
What are the chances of another world depression? Even to ask the question might seem mischievous. Everything is going marvellously well. We have discovered the secret of everlasting growth. Don’t ruin it with inconvenient scepticism.
 
Yet in 2001, after the Wall Street bubble burst (and only four years after the global 1998 crisis, which severely affected Russia), a senior Nobel Laureate in economics wrote to me: ‘I feel back in the early half of the twentieth century with its many business-cycle syndromes’. I thought he was wrong, for two reasons.
 
First, governments have learnt how to correct, or even prevent, swings in economic activity. This was the result of the Keynesian Revolution. Keynes taught that the market system was not

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‘Liberal Empire’ vs. ‘Sovereign Democracy’
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Wednesday, May 30, 2007

 
In my last column, I talked about how Russia’s great power illusion clashed with the facts of American power. I argued that, in present circumstances, its foreign policy should be designed to conciliate and please, not threaten and annoy. This is not the way Russia’s policy makers see things. Today I want to unpick two complementary doctrines which form the ideological basis of Russian foreign policy: Anatoly’s Chubais’s ‘liberal empire’ and Vladislav Surkov’s ‘sovereign democracy’. What is striking is the virtual identity of vision between the leader of the liberal right wing party (SPS) and the Kremlin’s chief ‘politologist’.
 
Chubais’s theory of ‘liberal empire’ (2003) borrows from current American discussion. Chubais argued that

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Russia must tread more softly
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, May 17, 2007

 
Old men who have lost their potency comfort themselves with the thought that they can ‘still do it’. So do collapsed great powers. The outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair fantasised that his country’s ‘special relationship’ with the United States gave him unique influence over President George W. Bush. The European Union, having lost its ‘hard’ power, believes that ‘soft’ power can do just as well. Russia’s illusion –occasionally shared by France - is ‘multipolarity’. ‘The formation of a multipolar world’, wrote Yevgeny Primakov in 2003, ‘is the main vector of the world’s development’. President Putin echoed him at Munich this year. ‘The unipolar world… did not take place’.
 
The world is certainly not unipolar in Putin’s sense of

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Russia can beat Berezovsky with better PR
Robert Skidelsky
Vedomosti | Thursday, April 19, 2007

 
 
The latest spat between Britain and Russia is largely a newspaper creation. The refugee oligarch Boris Berezovsky told the Guardian (13 April) that ‘he is planning the violent overthrow of President Putin from his base in Britain’. The Russian government was predictably, and understandably, annoyed. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s chief spokesman, said Russia would be calling (once more) for his extradition to face trial for criminal activities. Of course, nothing much will follow. It’s just another small nail in the coffin of Anglo-Russian relations.
 
Berezovsky fled from Russia at the end of 2000, and was granted political asylum in Britain in September 2003. The Russian Prosecutor’s office had requested Britain that he be returned to

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