'Downshifter' Russia Is Losing Global Competition, Warns State Bank Chief

Jan 15, 2016 — 19:29
German Gref

Russia has failed to adapt to economic and technological change and has fallen into the ranks of "downshifter" countries that will catastrophically lag behind their more advanced rivals, the head of the country's largest bank said Friday.

"We must honestly admit that we have lost to competitors," German Gref told the Gaidar Forum in Moscow, according to news agency RIA Novosti. Warning of "technological subjugation," he said, "we have found ourselves in the ranks of countries that are losing, downshifter counties."

Gref — head of Sberbank and a former economic development minister under President Vladimir Putin — said the era of oil was over and that in the new technology-driven world the difference between the leaders and losers would be "larger than during the industrial revolution," according to the Rambler news service.

His warning came as a steep decline in oil prices has pitched Russia into its longest recession since the 1990s, demonstrating the country's reliance on energy exports.

Gref called for radical overhaul of state institutions and the education system to enable people to join the technical revolution.

But referring to the huge numbers of educated Russians who prefer to live and work in Europe and the United States, he warned: "Our most terrible export, and our largest export, which we must stop, is the export of brainpower. We don't count how many we export each year but I fear that in terms of losses, it is the biggest of our exports."

'Always Ready!' 95 Years of the Soviet Union's Pioneers

The Soviet Union's Pioneer Organization marks its 95th anniversary today, May 19, 2017. The Moscow Times looks back at the Soviet Union's "always ready" children.

see more

Moscow: News and Openings

A new cafe serving Japanese food at rock-bottom prices, Mitzva Bar moves across town, street food with a foie gras twist, and a ...

Cheaper Than Ever Before: In Moscow, Fierce Competition Between App Providers Is Driving Taxi Fares Down

Within the last three months, the price war escalated between ...

Moscow: News and Openings

A new cafe serving Japanese food at rock-bottom prices, Mitzva Bar moves across town, street food with a ...