Panelists Criticize Russian Reforms
Say Economic Policies Have Caused Huge Price Increases, Induced Panic
Recent economic reforms in Russia have failed to bring stability to the former Soviet republic, said panelists last night at the Kennedy School of Government's Starr Auditorium.
John Lloyd, chief Moscow correspondent for the Foreign Times, and Stanley Fisher, a professor of economics at MIT, said the changes have caused enormous price increases and induced panic among the Russian people.
Lloyd and Fisher replaced scheduled speakers Vladimir Lukin, chair of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian Supreme Soviet, and Valentin Zorkin, head of the Russian constitutional court.
Lukin and Zorkin had traveled to New York City to meet with Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin, according to Dillon Professor of Government Graham T. Allison '62, who moderated the forum.
Lukin has encouraged Yeltsin to take a strong stand in its dispute with Ukraine over control of the Black Sea Fleet, said Lloyd, a former British journalist of the year.
Lloyd said that the splintering of the Soviet Union has created frictions between the new republics. "In a single stroke of the pen," said Lloyd, "Nikita Kruschev signed over the fleet to Ukrainian control. Back then, it didn't matter."
Lukin has also said that Russian President Boris Yeltsin may need to cut his ties with the increasingly unpopular government, according to Lloyd.
The British journalist said he witnessed firsthand the increasing dissatisfaction of Russians with their leaders. He described the laughter he heard when he was last in Russia as "angry, desperate, and hysterical."
Russian officials are troubled that "nothing much has happened" as a result of the new economic policies, Lloyd said.
But Fisher, a former chief economist for the World Bank, said the Russian leaders had unrealistic expectations for free-market reforms.
"I don't think anyone could've done better under the circumstances," Fisher said. "There was no quick way to bring about any improvements in the current situation."
"The MIT economist argued that a quick-fix will not solve structural problems in the Russian economy. He added that the main cause of the republics' current economic troubles is the lack of a strong, central government to oversee change.
Fisher also expressed concern over the growing reluctance of the West to assist the Commonwealth on a substantial scale. "I think the U.S. can do better," he said.