ROPV CONTRIBUTORShttp://russiaotherpo...ee002970c-120wi by Patrick Armstrong
The hypothesis of this essay is that the conventional Western view of post-Communist Russia has passed through two cycles and is entering a third. While the first two were grounded mostly on what observers wished to see, the third is shaping up to be based more on reality.
As Tom Graham wisely observed some years ago: while no one will take seriously a country with a declining GDP, no one can ignore one whose GDP is rising. When the USSR fell apart in 1991, its extraordinarily centralised economy, whose links were now were blocked by new national borders, choked and died. Living standards sank, inflation exploded, the tax base collapsed, state employees went months without pay, factory employees were paid in kind, the social support system failed and the demographic decline that had begun in the Khrushchev period accelerated. All indicators worsened at once. This was the time when