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Brief Outline of Sergei Mitrokhins Report
at the State Council meeting

January 22, 2010

Brief Outline of Sergei Mitrokhins Report
at the State Council meeting
(Unofficial English translation)

January 22, 2010

Moscow


The key problem of Russias political system is monopolism which manifests itself in three major ways:

1) bodies of power and parliaments of all levels demonstrate monopoly of one party representing the interests of bureaucracy and large-scale business merged with it;


2) complete dominance of the executive over the judicial authority;


3) dictate of one social class the bureaucracy over all other social groups.


Thus, the present political system generally reproduces the Soviet system, with its key flaw the monopoly of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on power.


Such monopoly led to the insensibility of the political system of the USSR to the challenges of the time. Attempts to reform the system were considerably belated and that, consequently, led to a collapse of the USSR.


Certainly reproduction of this system after Boris Yeltsins era led to some stabilisation in the country. However, today stabilisation has been evolving towards stagnation which in some of its traits resembles that of the Soviet period under Leonid Brezhnev. In that period the system was demonstrating the signs of a crisis, and the same signs have appeared now. Let me innumerate only the key traits:

 

in the state system absence of the real division of powers, corruption resulting from uncontrolledness of bureaucrats and adoption of corruption-prone laws by parliaments in the interests of bureaucracy and large business, degradation of the interior, election fraud for the sake preservation of the monopoly of one party by all means;

in politics absence of a real fully-fledged political discussion, political parties are deprived of the opportunity to work efficiently and are put into unequal conditions, non-profit organisations experience constant distrust and pressure on behalf of the state;

in the economy conservation of a raw-material-intensive economy, dictatorship of natural monopolies, lobbying of the interests of oligarchic companies to the detriment of small and medium-scale business;

in the society at a high level of trust to the heads of the state absolute distrust to its institutions, elections (especially after October 11), governments and law enforcement bodies, loss of the key condition for the progress of the country, real reforms and successful modernisation i.e., public trust to the state institutions and the rule of law; degradation of public consciousness as a result of media-policies oriented on distracting public attention from important issues, as well as buffoonerisation of the information space.


Supporting the modernisation slogan set forth by the President we think that Russias present political system is incompatible with modernisation. On the opposite, it (like the communist system of the later USSR) is programmed towards stagnation, demodernisation and, finally, degradation of the country.

This system does not have place for empowerment of creative potential of the society, formation of social groups capable of active support of the modernisation course, including a large class of owners which would be independent in its relations with the authorities, i.e. would be able to solve problems without mediation of the authorities, and capable of representation of its interests on the state level.

Let me give you a recent example. Yesterday mass media informed about another round of pulling down of houses in the Rechnik village. Houses of the middle class were pulled down. A law on amnesty of unregistered houses did not protect them (why? because it had been written in such a way!). An elite village Ostrov Fantaziy (Fantasy Island) is situated near by, in the same protected natural reserve area. However, no one has disturbed its residents, as they are top officials and influential businessmen. The conclusion is as follows: a status of an individual rather than law guarantees his property rights in Russia. And the law fixes this medieval principle today.

When our middle class is so deprived of rights first of all of property rights there wont be any modernisation. This is what we have to modernise at first hand.

However, such key modernisation of property rights can not go without a large-scale political reform.

The reform should develop along the following key streamlines: demonopolisation, creation of conditions for political competition, liberation of the society, separation of power from business and formation of a fully-fledged owners class.

The first steps of the political reform should be as follows:


1. MASS MEDIA. Abolishment of censorship in the state mass media and cancellation of the ban on criticism of top officials, including President and Prime Minister. Punishment for applying administrative pressure on mass media and journalists. Provision of equal access to the media for all the political parties.


2. ELECTIONS. Demonopolisation of the system of electoral commissions (formed by the parties on an equal basis). Differentiation of criminal and administrative responsibility for the fraud and reduction of the electoral barrier on all levels and ban on locomotives (Ed. When a well-known public figure is included into a partys electoral list so that to ensure voting for this party, however, after voting such persons resign or refuse from their mandates). Restoration of elections of governors and the Federation Council.


3. PARTIES. Lowering of the membership normative for parties to 5,000 people. Abolishment of collection of signatures for enrollment in election campaigns for parties. Elimination of other discriminatory measures on behalf of parliamentary parties against non-parliamentary parties.


4. PUBLIC ASSOCIATIONS. Complete restoration of rights of public non-profit organisations. Abolishment of all unjustified bans contradicting to the international practices on receipt of financial aid by such organisations. Ensuring of access of independent non-profit organisations to the state mass media.


5. THE BUREAUCRACY. Abolishment of legal norms allowing officials to uncontrolledly (on behalf of the parliament and the society) dispose of Russias national resources (state budget, raw materials and land). Ban for the state servants to participate in the boards of directors of state-owned companies and companies with a state-owned share, moreover to head such boards.


6. BUSINESS. The measures for formation of a mass layer of small owners. Measures against interference of business into politics: laws on transparency in political parties financing, on lobbying in the parliament and ban for representatives of large business to obtain state posts. Owners rights should be guaranteed, including their political right to openly and transparently within the framework of the law finance political parties and movements.

Further steps are described in the programme of the Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO, as well as in YABLOKOs anti-crisis proposals handed to the President in June 2009.

If the political reform does not start today, Russia can pass the point of no return, as happened to the USSR which lost its chance to timely reforms.

 

See also:

the original

Human Rights

Freedom of Speech

Elections

YABLOKO Against Corruption

Russian Economy

Development of Small-Scale Business



January 22, 2010