Russia Today (Yesterday & Tomorrow)

Some viewed the fall of the Soviet Union as the beginning of “The End of History.” The U.S. and its allies, it seemed, were ushering in an era of global liberal democracy. Today's headlines remind us that history is not over. Russia's aggressive imperialism in Ukraine and its meddling in the Middle East have put it back at center stage. The last 25 years of economic history in Russia are the backdrop to this foreign policy challenge to the West – a time in which the old guard “nomenklatura” gave up on the Soviet experiment and transferred economic ownership to a new set of political elites. This wasn’t anyone’s idea of a smooth transition to an independent democratic regime, but many free-market economists (including Milton Friedman) gladly offered advice on how to jumpstart Russia’s stagnant economy. Andrei Illarionov also served as an early advisor to President Putin – counseling sound monetary and fiscal policy – but resigned when it became clear how the new government was being run. Now a Senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity and a key contributor to the Human Freedom Index, Andrei recently participated in a Cato symposium on what went wrong. He joins the show to describe the economic and political inner workings of the Putin government and the Russian oligarchy. What does economic freedom have to do with political freedom and foreign policy interventionism? A whole lot, it turns out.

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