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The XXI century will be a сentury either of total all-embracing crisis or of moral and spiritual healing that will reinvigorate humankind. It is my conviction that all of us - all reasonable political leaders, all spiritual and ideological movements, all  faiths - must help in this transition to a triumph of humanism and justice, in making the XXI century a century of a new human renaissance.

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24 сентября 2008

Round Table: “Russian Middle Class Today: Opportunities and Prospects"

 The Gorbachev Foundation continues its discussions on the issues of modernization in Russia that were the subject-matter of the Round Tables “The Destiny of Democratic Movement in Russia” and “2020: Guidelines and Obstacles Facing Russia’s Economy”

On September 24, 2008 the Gorbachev Foundation held a Round Table “Russian Middle Class Today: Opportunities and Prospects” organized by the Gorbachev Foundation, public movement “The Union of Social-Democrats”, the National Investment Council and the G.V. Plekhanov Foundation. The Kennan Institute was taking part in it, too. 
Two issues were offered for the discussion: “Socio-Economic Strategies for the Representatives of the Middle Class: Directions of Change” and “Successful Russians Today: Values and Ideas of the Future”. The main objective of the Round Table was to make clear whether or not the Russian middle class is a resource for society’s modernization. M.S. Gorbachev, who opened the Round Table and took part in the discussion, underscored the importance of this issue.
Taking part in the discussion were  the leading experts studying middle class were talking about the complexity of the notion of “middle class” as applied to the present situation in Russia. The majority of citizens who have university education and who are traditionally qualified as the middle class belong in the low income bracket in Russia, and their main efforts are aimed at getting adapted so as to survive. Therefore, within the framework of the topic at hand it would be more correct to speak about successful people rather than middle class, the people who have considerable material, educational and informational resources. The question about whether or not such people are a resource for Russia’s modernization caused a lot of doubt because latest studies have revealed that in spite of stability that came in the 1990ies they are not feeling secure and cannot plan their future or the future of their children. So, in spite of the difference of opinion, participants in the discussion shared the view that expectations for the Russian middle class to become the subject of modernization in Russia are not quite true for the time being. 
Taking part in the discussion were : M.N. Afanasjev (“Nikkolo M”); K.I. Sonin (the Russian School of Economics); N.E. Tikhonova (the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences); D.M. Loginov (ISEPN); P.M. Kudjukin (the State University – Higher School of Economics); L/D/ Gudkov (Levada Center); D.B. Oreshkin (the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences); D.L. Konstantinovski (the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences); A.V. Ryabov (the Gorbachev Foundation); V.I. Mironenko (the Institute of Europe); M.I. Kuznetsov (public movement “The Union of Social-Democrats”).  
The full transcript of the Round Table deliberations will be published on the Gorbachev Foundation’s Web-site.