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Dmitry Medvedevs Article, Go Russia! (September 10, 2009)

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Reflecting on the Past

My starting point while setting out five priorities for technological development, offering specific measures for the modernisation of the political system, as well as measures to strengthen the judiciary and fight corruption, is my views on Russias future. And for the sake of our future it is necessary to liberate our country from persistent social ills that inhibit its creative energy and restrict our common progress. These ills include:

1. Centuries of economic backwardness and the habit of relying on the export of raw materials, actually exchanging them for finished products. Peter the Great, the last tsars and the Bolsheviks all created and not unsuccessfully -- elements of an innovative system. But the price of their successes was too high. As a rule, it was done by making extreme efforts, by using all the levers of a totalitarian state machine.

2. Centuries of corruption have debilitated Russia from time immemorial. Until today this corrosion has been due to the excessive government presence in many significant aspects of economic and other social activities. But it is not limited to governmental excess -- business is also not without fault. Many entrepreneurs are not worried about finding talented inventors, introducing unique technologies, creating and marketing new products, but rather with bribing officials for the sake of controlling the flows of property redistribution.

3. Paternalistic attitudes are widespread in our society, such as the conviction that all problems should be resolved by the government. Or by someone else, but never by the person who is actually there. The desire to make a career from scratch, to achieve personal success step by step is not one of our national habits. This is reflected in a lack of initiative, lack of new ideas, outstanding unresolved issues, the poor quality of public debate, including criticism. Public acceptance and support is usually expressed in silence. Objections are very often emotional, scathing, but superficial and irresponsible. Well, this is not the first century that Russia has had to confront these phenomena.

People tell us that we cannot completely cure chronic social diseases. Those traditions are steadfast, and history tends to repeat itself. But at one point serfdom and rampant illiteracy seemed insurmountable. However, we overcame them all the same.

Of course traditions have a considerable influence. But they nevertheless fit in with each new era and undergo changes. Some simply disappear, and not all of them are useful. For me, only unquestionable values which must be preserved may be regarded as traditions. They include interethnic and interfaith peace, military valour, faithfulness to ones duty, hospitality and the kindness inherent in our people. Bribery, theft, intellectual and spiritual laziness, and drunkenness, on the other hand, are vices that offend our traditions. We should get rid of them by using the strongest terms.

Of course todays Russia will not repeat its past. Our time is truly new. And not just because it is moving forward, as time does, but also because it opens up before our country and each one of us tremendous opportunities. Opportunities of which there was no trace twenty, thirty, or much less a hundred or three hundred years ago.

The impressive legacy of the two greatest modernisations in our countrys history that of Peter the Great (imperial) and the Soviet one -- unleashed ruin, humiliation and resulted in the deaths of millions of our countrymen. It is not for us to judge our predecessors. But we must recognize that the preservation of human life was not, euphemistically speaking, a government priority in those years. Unfortunately, this is a fact. Today is the first time in our history that we have a chance to prove to ourselves and the world that Russia can develop in a democratic way. That a transition to the next, higher stage of civilization is possible. And this will be accomplished through non-violent methods. Not by coercion, but by persuasion. Not through suppression, but rather the development of the creative potential of every individual. Not through intimidation, but through interest. Not through confrontation, but by harmonising the interests of the individual, society and government.

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