Launch of new books by Grigory Yavlinsky
Press release, 29.11.2015
Politician and economist Grigory Yavlinsky presented his new books at the Book Fair of Intellectual Literature Non / Fiction. This year two news books by Grigory Yavlinsky were published: “Peripheral Authoritarianism What Russia Has Achieved and Why”and “Notes on History and Politics: the People, the Country, and the Reforms” written together with Andrei Kosmynin.
There was not enough room in the conference hall for all those who came to listen to Grigory Yavlinsky and ask him a question. All the seats were occupied, as well as passages, and the corridor leading to the exit, and even window sills.
Grigory Yavlinsky began the meeting by expressing his gratitude to the people who helped him in the writing of the books – Andrei Kosmynin, co-author of “Notes on History and Politics”, his long-term publisher and editor Yuri Zdorovov and his interlocutors – well-known Russian intellectuals Vitaly Shvydko and Victor Kogan-Yasny.
“Who could have thought that this would happen?! We wanted completely different development! ” – Grigory Yavlinsky had to answer this question many times when talking about reforms in the new Russia, so the first question he answered in the books was what Russia achieved. The second question was “Can we achieve anything with such people?”
Peripheral Authoritarianism. What Russia Has Achieved and Why
Grigory Yavlinsky does not say who is to blame, because he sees the solution in changing the system rather than replace one person on the top by another. He compares the existing system to a minefield: “To move forward, we have to clear it of mines, otherwise we will be exploded by mines that have been laid there over the past 25 years. How can we carefully, without humiliating anyone, without prejudice, violence and bloodshed to demine this very dangerous mechanism?”
The first section of the book is devoted to the foundation of this mechanism: the events of the early 1990s (the hyperinflation of 1992, criminal privatisation, the 1996 presidential elections launching elimination of free media).
In addition, Yavlinsky draws attention to other important circumstances which people do not speak about. First, refusal from the assessment of everything that happened after the coup in 1917. Second, the Bolshevik style of the post-Soviet reforms – the reforms were carried out according to the principle “the end justifies the means”. As people used to say at that time, “no population – no inflation”. It was the style despising those for whom everything was done, the Bolshevik way of doing business.
Further Yavlinsky considers how a political system without competition was built on this foundation, a merger of property and power, business and government, an ideology built as an absurd puzzle demonstrating a combination of the imperial coat of arms, the Soviet anthem and post-Soviet flag.
The book also shows how corruption in Russia works: “You can do anything and “we close the eyes on anything”, but only if you behave properly, if you misbehave, the “eyes will open” and then blame yourself. This is also a reproduction of the Stalinist system”.
Another topic covered in the book is the institutions. Yavlinsky says that it is incorrect to say that there are no institutions in Russia, they are simply different: the system includes the repeated and sustainable practices of corruption, construction of the ‘vertical of power’ and fraud at elections.
This results in giving rise to new developments. For example, the system has to see the outside world as an enemy and strives to constantly expanding itself.
The final part of the book is devoted to Russia’s prospects. Yavlinsky believes that such a system can not exist for a long time, it constantly makes mistakes, which brings it to collapse. However, it is difficult to determine the time limits of the period before the collapse.
Notes on History and Politics: the People, the Country, and the Reforms
The Russian people is not worse than any other people, say the authors of the book, the blame for the failure of reforms lies on those who implement them, that is, the elite: “Maybe we should not say that Russia has a very special people? It is impossible to do something good with such an elite, because those who became the elite, exchanged their position of independent, professional people who love their country for money, power and their posts,” Grigory Yavlinsky said.
The topic of retreat of people from politics and public life is the most important topic in the book.
“We believe that there is such specifics in our country, in contrast to many other countries: as a rule, people do not struggle against the government but try to avoid it, they do not want to fight against it, they do not want to transform it. The British had nowhere to go from the islands, and they long ago began to demand their rights from their very dangerous and at that time of autocratic ruler. In Russia it worked differently: people retreated from the conflict with the authorities both geographically and into their own life”.
For the state, this is a very dangerous thing, because when the gap between the authorities and citizens becomes too deep, the state collapses. This happened to Russia twice in the 20th century: in 1917 and in 1991