Entitled to his own facts

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February 13, 2016 by AK

It turns out that the English translation of Mededev’s Handelsblatt interview is an abridged version. The Russian text includes at least three questions excised from the English version.

Among other things cut out, Medvedev claims that when he first moved to Moscow (from St. Petersburg), the federal budget depended on oil and gas for 70-75% of its revenues but this share went down to 55% later and only equals 45% now.

As Meduza points out, the current share of oil and gas related revenues in the federal budget is indeed close to 45%. The 75%-to-45% narrative is plainly absurd: oil and gas taxes and duties never accounted for 75% of the budgetary revenues. Never having reached them, this share could not have slid from those unimaginable heights down to 45%. It actually peaked in 2014 at 51% and came down to 45% in 2015 simply because the oil price crashed.

The 51% number might be understated, as far as I understand, and the year-over-year changes might be slightly different if counted more accurately (see the chart on Andrei Illarionov’s blog). The long-term 2000-2015 picture is still the opposite of Medvedev’s claim: the share of oil and gas revenues in the federal budget was much higher during Medvedev’s presidency and premiership than at the start of Putin’s first term.

In the year 1999 – Medvedev moved to Moscow that fall – oil and gas revenues were less than 20% of the federal budget’s total; the next year, 25%; in 2001, 26%. The low share had to do with the low oil price and the old tax system, thoroughly reformed since then. Whatever the reason and however large the margin of error, 25% is quite emphatically not 75%, not even close. Medvedev’s narrative is a fantasy.


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