Yabloko: A responsible politician can risk only his own life
An interview with Nikolai Rybakov, 06.04.2017
A correspondent of the RBC Novosibirsk Media Agency interviewed Yabloko Deputy Chair Nikolai Rybakov
– Nikolai Igorevich, you were present at the rally against the construction of the landfill site. What do you think about the action?
– One can see that people realise what they are fighting for. They were caught on the raw. The situation is typical for many regions of Russia. There are examples of small victories. They take place when initiative groups do not retreat for the line of resistance. If you relax for a moment, the fight is lost.
– What solution do you see in this situation?
– It is evident to me that this concessionary agreement has a corruption element because it makes no sense as far as economy is concerned. Yabloko suggests an alternative. They should find another spot for a temporary recycling point. In the long view, they should introduce the separate waste collection and recycling system. Such technologies exist in Russia, the procedures were tested all over the world. I cannot believe that we still pile waste about the cities.
– It is difficult to teach people in Russia to sort garbage.
– You are mistaken. For instance, the Narva River flows in the Leningrad Region. It separates Russia’s Ivangorod and Estonia’s city of Narva. But 95 per cent of population are Russians. The residents of Narva sort their garbage, three is no problem with that. But people in Ivangorod dump their waste into one bin.
It is possible to organise waste sorting. There was an experiment in St. Petersburg: waste containers were installed outside the door steps, so the residents began sorting their garbage. Then a waste disposal vehicle arrived and damped the sorted garbage into one bin. People felt studied and the experiment was considered a failure.
– They say that waste incineration is an appropriate way of waste disposal.
– It is false, waste incineration is a dangerous, hazardous and ineffective technology. Only the waste which is not subject to recycling is incinerated in Europe. In Russia all types of garbage are incinerated. There are filters at the plants in Europe which cost up to 80 per cent of the plant value. In Russia they either do not install such filters or do not change them until the date of expiry.
On the spring protests
– About 8000 people went to the streets of Novosibirsk in March? How do you estimate it?
– I find it inspiring. The reason for it is, in the first place, that the rallies were organised, there were no fights and arrests. The authorities must take the civilized way the people express their stance into consideration.
– The main thing is what is going to happen next. It is time the authorities realise that there is no point in creating the illusion of a public discussion and multiply pro-government civic organisations which will hang upon the words of a governor or a mayor.
If we have strong and independent civic organisations, people will be able to carry out a dialogue through them, not only by means of protest actions.
– Why did not Yabloko participate in the anti-corruption rallies in all the regions of the country?
– It was clear right from the start that violent confrontation will take place in Moscow. There is a reason why Yabloko’s programme is called “Respect for a Person”. We do not support Alexei Navalny, who called people to participate in an authorized rally, in this respect. We put a person’s life first. A responsible politician can risk only his own life.
– A lot of young people participated in the protest actions. Why?
– They are tired of the situation. They are tired of the president who has been in office during their whole life. They are tired of the lack of perspectives in the country. The danger of a permanent regime is that the authorities cannot see that is is growing old. The system still runs, the TV set says that everything is great. But young people can see that it is a lie, this is not about them or their future. This is dangerous.
– You mean a revolution, right?
– Of course. Very often I hear that a revolution will not take place since the government will crack down on the protest.
The government does not realise that if a revolution takes place in Russia, nobody is going to ask their opinion – they will be slept away and the country will face dire consequences. Russia will be pushed out into the unknown in case of a revolution.
We want to open up a public dialogue in Russia. We want to change the government without crashing it. There is an interesting Internet resource called “Project 2017”. There you can find what people wrote about the revolution one hundred years ago. A lot of people were inspired. But they had no idea that soon they would victims of the revolution.
On the situation in the party
– It has been recently reported that Yabloko has financial problems.
– Our budget declined when the state financing was cut off. We used to rely on financial contributions a lot, now we are going to fully rely on them. It will allow us to make our work more open, transparent, search for new opportunities and free resources.
Nikolai Rybakov is a Russian politician and public figure, Deputy Chair of the Yabloko party; Executive Director of the Bellona environmental NGO (2008-2015), Transparency International Board member (2011-2015).