A significant debate is underway in Russia since imposition of western financial sanctions on Russian banks and corporations in 2014. It’s about a proposal presented by the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. The proposal, which resembles Islamic interest-free banking models in many respects, was first unveiled in December 2014 at the depth of the Ruble crisis and oil price free-fall. This August the idea received a huge boost from the endorsement of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It could change history for the better depending on what is done and where it further leads.
Some 20 years ago during the Yeltsin era, within the chaos of Russian hyperinflation and IMF “shock therapy,” the Russian Orthodox Church introduced a similar proposal for interest-free banking as an alternative. During that time a gaggle of liberal pro-free-market Russian economists around Yeltsin, such as Yegor Gaider, prevailed. They instead opened Russia’s state-owned assets to literal plunder by western banks, hedge funds and corporations.