Illarionov Likens Kyoto to Gosplan

By Greg Walters

Friday, Feb. 20, 2004. Page 3
Special to The Moscow Times

Presidential economic adviser Andrei Illarionov lashed out Thursday at the Kyoto Protocol, likening the plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions to Soviet-era state planning and accusing the European Union of trying to impose "Kyotism" on Russia.

"I have called my speech 'The Return of Gosplan,'" Illarionov said, in a reference to the Soviet agency that set production quotas.

"But the proposed mechanism would decrease quotas year by year. ... So it may be more correct to call it the return of the gulag," he said, speaking at the opening of a two-day international forum dedicated to the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol calls on signatory countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels by 2012. Without ratification by Russia, the treaty cannot come into force.

Illarionov is a staunch opponent of the protocol, arguing that cutting greenhouse gas emissions would hurt the country's economic growth.

Illarionov on Thursday accused the EU of putting "unprecedented pressure" on Russia to ratify the treaty and embrace the ideology of what he called "Kyotism."

"Attempts to pressure Russia into taking a decision can only be seen as an attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation," he said.

"During the 20th century, Russia seriously suffered from another ideology that came from Europe. ... Not only Russia, but the whole world suffered," he said, referring to Marxism.

Illarionov's speech elicited laughter and looks of befuddlement from the audience. Illarionov appeared to be speaking tongue-in-cheek at times, but participants said the Kremlin's firm stance came through loud and clear.

"Mr. Illarionov is mocking those who have an incorrect understanding of the [ratification] process," said Arkady Volsky, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. "Can we really say that Europe is asking us to reinstate Gosplan or to reinstate the gulag?"

EU officials at the forum insisted that Russia would benefit by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. "Ratification will attract investment and help Russian companies that will have to increase their energy efficiency, cooperate with international partners," said Richard Wright, the head of the European Commission's delegation in Russia.



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