By Vladislav M. Zubok
Western interpretations of the chilly War--both realist and neoconservative--have erred through exaggerating both the Kremlin's pragmatism or its aggressiveness, argues Vladislav Zubok. Explaining the pursuits, aspirations, illusions, fears, and misperceptions of the Kremlin leaders and Soviet elites, Zubok bargains a Soviet viewpoint at the maximum standoff of the 20 th century.
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Extra resources for A Failed Empire: The Soviet Union in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev (The New Cold War History)
But by then, Moscow had benefited from billions of tax dollars flowing into its coffers. To ensure that the wealth is not spread too thin, Moscow has retained the Soviet system of residential permits (propiska). The permits, ostensibly based on birthplace, marriage commitments, and employment location, help keep undesirable residents out. 34 A large portion of the working population of the city—perhaps one-half—are directly or indirectly on the municipal payroll. 6 billion and a payroll of 50,000.
But coupled with such a move should be insistence on transparency of financial dealings, early bankruptcy procedures when even subsidized activities are not viable, and mechanisms for enforcing contracts. The Russian research community has cause to be apprehensive about receiving its due within a free market economy. An example of a no-win situation is the development in the Urals of a process to leach gold from underground ore deposits. Using technologies developed to mine uranium, a Russian research institute in Zarechny has succeeded in leaching gold valued at $1 million dollars from veins located on municipal property and stockpiling it on the surface, with many times that amount of gold readily available underground.
43 While reliance on barter may be slowly declining, production levels gradually increasing, and tax revenues also rising, many years of economic growth will be needed to provide an acceptable standard of living for most Russians. Can current policies be fine tuned to improve economic efficiency? At present, there are so many distortions in the economy that fre- 26 SWORDS INTO MARKET SHARES quently less efficient producers of commodities win out in competitions with more efficient producers. These distortions include unequal taxation, different energy payment requirements for different consumers, privileged access to government procurements and land allocation, arbitrary red tape requirements, and tolerance of stealing trademarks and false advertising.