Although he implemented a flat tax in Russia, I don’t think of Vladimir Putin as a supporter of free markets.
Heck, he was head of the KGB during the communist era, and he presides over a country that is more known for cronyism rather than competitive markets.
So if he criticizes European nations for having excessive welfare states, it’s like being called ugly by a frog.
Here are some of the amusing details from Euractiv.com.
He’s no Milton Friedman, but he’s right about the welfare state
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking ahead of the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland on 17-18 June, said his country would not follow the mistakes of Europe that led to the eurozone crisis. In a wide-ranging interview he blamed the EU’s “mentality” for endangering the economy and the “moral basics of society”. …Asked if Europe’s welfare state model can be competitive today, Putin said Europe is living beyond its means, losing control of the economic situation and that Europe’s structural distortions were “unacceptable” to Russia. “Many European countries are witnessing a rise of [the] dependency mentality when not working is often much more beneficial than working. This type of mentality endangers not only the economy but also the moral basics of the society. It is not a secret that many citizens of less developed countries come to Europe intentionally to live on social welfare,” Putin said.
It’s hard to disagree with anything Putin says in that passage.
Seems like he understands that Europe made a big mistake by having too many people in the wagon and too few people pulling the wagon.