The First Channel, programme "Pozner",
April 20, 2010
Pozner: Good evening. This is the “Pozner” programme. Our
guest is Grigory Alexeyevich Yavlinsky. Good evening. Haven’t
seen you for a long time.
Yavlinsky: Good evening.
Pozner: Before we come to our viewers’ questions, by the
way we have over 20 pages of questions, which shows that you
have been of great interest at least for the views of our
programme. But before coming to the questions, and we have
selected only a part of them, the most frequent and interesting
questions, I would like to ask you a very “funny” question
in my view. According to your own words, for the first time
you showed fidelity to your principles in early 1970s when
as a student of Plekhanov’s State Economic Institute you were
sent to practical training to Czechoslovakia. And, as you
say, in sauna students began discussing politics. You said
that our people deserved a better life for that “enormous
quantity of blood shed by our nation”. The komsomol boss of
your group mates expressed an opinion that “socialism deserved
even ten times more blood shed for it”. You said, that this
“outraged you. “Not only did I call him a man-eater, Stalinist
and Moist,” you said, “but also I gave him a good threashing
with a wash bowl”. So why a wash bowl? You had been twice
a Champion of Ukraine in boxing among juniors in the second
Yavlinsky: But you have already said where it was all taking
Pozner: In the sauna.
Yavlinsky: Yes, in the sauna, and everyone had a wash bowl
there. And that guy had such a face as if asking for being
taught exactly by a washing basin on his “clever head”. And
I did not intend to really beat him.
Pozner: You simply expressed your attitude in such a way…
Pozner: Ok, now let us proceed with a vox poluli. Let us
first listen to the questions from the persons we recorded
in the streets. Please look at the screen.
A viewer: Grigory Alexeyevich, tell us please, why did you
leave your party? And all party heads have left it one by
one, so that now we do not hear about the party at all?
Yavlinsky: Thank you for such a question. I reality we did
not leave the party. Frankly speaking virtually none from
those people who had been creating the party and headed the
party, left it, except for a few persons. But there should
be some changes in the party, there should be rotation of
leaders. I have been leading the party for almost 15 years,
and headed the movement for about 20 years. And time came
for new people, the fresh blood to come, but we participate
in the party work. And we find this very important.
Pozner: A question from Ivan Petrovich Nekhoroshev: what
is in your opinion the key reason behind the party failure
at the past elections?
Yavlinsky: As you know, there are great difficulties today
in presenting the party programme, its aims and goals, the
attitude of the party to the present developments and the
policies that should be held in the opinion of the party,
in such a scope so that most of the citizens of our country
could hear us and assess it. This is not news, and everyone
in Russia knows that. Different parties are in different positions
in Russia. There are parties that have a monopoly both to
the access to mass media, presentation of their position and
participation in public life. And we think that one of reasons
[behind our failure at the past elections] is that we do not
always have a possibility to openly, fully, clearly and consistently
inform our electorate of what I have just said.
Pozner: This reminds me of Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals
are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
Yavlinsky: Exactly. We have a fine absolutely equal party,
and everyone knows it, and this party is holding a dominating
place. However, monopolism in the political sphere leads to
very sad consequences.
Pozner: A question from Oleg Vitalyevich Kim, “What is your
opinion, what or who did not let you to reign in the minds
of the electorate (in the past)? Why did the people prefer
to vote for, say, [Zhirinovsky’s] LDPR rather than YABLOKO?
Yavlinsky: First, I have to say that part of the electorate
has always been voting for LDPR, and another part voted for
YABLOKO. Certainly that main answer is that we have not always
cooped with our duties very well. We have not always spoken
clearly [for the broad public] and not always deep enough,
sometimes we failed to understand the desires of the people
so that to respond to these. This is what one should learn
and this requires much time. And we actually have been trying
to accomplish this. In addition, our possibilities were certainly
restricted by what was happening in the country.
Pozner: One more question from the street.
A viewer: I would like to ask Grigory Yavlinsky if he would
like to return to politics?
Pozner: Do you have a desire to return to politics?
Yavlinsky: If we speak in a serious vein, as soon as Russia
has public politics…
Pozner: Then you may return?
Yavlinsky: I think I will.
Pozner: Olga Sergeyevna Sergyeva, “Who you personally and
your party view the merger of the church and the state? And
also to teaching the basics of the Russian Orthodox religion
Yavlinsky: As an advocate of our Constitution I think that
we have a circular state, and the church should – as a very
important public institution of great value – to do its business.
By the way, I have to tell you that our reforms turned exactly
where we are now, because the reforms were conducted in a
predominantly atheistic country. And it is extremely difficult
[if at all possible] to conduct such reforms – connected with
land, private property and changing of the way of living,
– in the situation of truculent atheism. The state should
not merge with the church, the church should implement its
own role. And speaking about teaching, I would say that it
would be good if any schoolchild could study the basics –
compulsory, as we should not intrude upon them here – of that
religion which is close to him/her due to his/her backgrounds
and his/family tradition. I think this could be quite useful.
Pozner: Alexander Yakovlevich Gudkov is asking you, “Do you
think that the peak of your political carrier is left behind?”
Yavlinsky: You know, I would answer to Alexander Yakovlevich
that I have not yet finished [my political carrier], therefore
I have not started the revision of my peaks yet, and how it
all was. We shall see.
Pozner: Gennadi Kolomoyetz, “Do you think that that fact
that Yanukovich came to power in Ukraine would unite our two
nations? And is a new alliance possible?”
Yavlinsky: I think that the present Russia’s policies do
not envisage any alliance.
Pozner: Boris Yakovlevich Arest, “How can you assess the
benefits that you gave to the Russian society as a politician?”
Yavlinsky: Oh, it is not my business to do the summing up.
Pozner: The same type of question. From Alexander Yakovlevich
Anikevich, “Why proposals by your party, YABLOKO, in fact
the cleverest did not find implementation in the Russian society?
Can it be only because any society has only five per cent
of intelligent people?”
Yavlinsky: I think there are a lot of clever people in Russia.
But not all at once. We are certain that fundamental ideas
our party is advocating will finally find their place in the
Russian society, and the events confirm this. However, sometimes
the way towards what should be done is very crooked, and not
Pozner: Eugenia Naumovna Krupina is asking, “Will you run
for Russian presidency in 2012?”
Yavlinsky: We shall discuss this issue.
Pozner: Is it definite already?
Yavlinsky: Not yet.
Pozner: But you don’t say “no”, do you?
Yavlinsky: I don’t say “no”, but I am saying that we shall
discuss this issue.
Pozner: Andrei Kapitonov, “Dear Grigory Alexeyevich, I was
expelled from YABLOKO for my participation in the Solidarnost
movement with the wording that my activity in this [Solidarnost]
movement harms YABLOKO politically. Please, explain me, what
this harm is about. Of course, you do not know the details,
but how can this happen?”
Yavlinsky: It is really like this. Our party adopted a decision
at its congress that dual membership – in our party and some
other organisation with a programme different from ours –
is not permitted. We think that people simply have to make
their choice: either they join one political organisation
with one political programme or another. It is not worth while
[to be member of two parties] at once.
Pozner: And the last question from our views. Here goes.
Viewer: Grigory Alexeyevich, you have been always fighting
for glasnost. What, in your opinion, is situation with glasnost
in our country now?
Yavlinsky: I think that today we have a very limited freedom
of speech. Virtually we have no freedom of speech or glasnost.
It is certainly not like in the Soviet Union. But what is
freedom of speech? It is a possibility to systematically and
consistently express a point of view. This means a possibility
to explain why we have such corruption, why the leader of
the state act in such a way, what happens in the army, what
happens with the price growth, why we have such inflation,
etc. Different political forces and political movement, people
with a point of view differing from that adopted today as
the [official] state point of view do not have such an opportunity
today, they do not have a possibility to express it to a mass
audience which is political importance.
Pozner: Now we are proceeding to advertising, please be patient
for several minutes and then we shall return to our conversation
with Grigory Alexeyevich. Please stay with us…
Grigory Alexeyevich, it is already two years that you are
not YABLOKO’s leader. You even said once and I have even put
down the quotation, “I am dreaming about the time when the
party will be able to exist without me, this is the sense
of my life.” Looks like you dream has come true, because the
party is without you now and it does exist, and you are free
from this leadership. But what you have been doing all this
time? You have completely disappeared, we have not seen you
or heard about you. Is it your desire to disappear? What have
you been doing? First, please tell all our viewers who are
interested in this, even very shortly. And second, why have
Yavlinsky: First of all I live in Russia. And there are many
different things for me to do in Russia. It is not only my
political or party activity. There are many other things.
Formally I am a professor of the Higher School of Economics,
I lecture for students and post-graduates. Also I have been
making a research about the reasons of the world economic
Pozner: You mean you lecture in economics?
Yavlinsky: Yes, in economics, I teach economics. Also I cooperate
with a number of large foreign universities, I am writing
books for them. Also I work in the YABLOKO party or continue
working there. So the dream has not come true yet in this
sense, the party has been working together with me. I think
this will last for some time. And what I meant to say was
that in my view Russia must have a political party like the
Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO. And if we speak about
Russian historical tradition the party is connected with the
Russian ‘zemstvo’ (district councils). If we speak about a
political tradition, our party is also connected with the
‘cadets’, the constitutional democrats (that existed before
1917). So this is not something invented or imported, this
is a political union of free people that is really deeply
rooted in Russia and grows from inside the Russian culture.
These people have their own views and convictions.
Pozner: So, it looks like that we your stepping out from
your post [of the party leader] Russian mass media lost interest
in you or it is not interesting for you to communicate with
them – which is right here? I should repeat once again: you
Yavlinsky: No, I haven’t. You see I can tell you if you are
asking me so persistently. The matter is that I do not share
the policies conducted by the present President and Prime
Minister. I do not share these policies. And mass media due
to different reasons hardly show any interest to those who
have a dissenting opinion as regards our present development.
Pozner: So you have finally given me an answer. Now, in 1982,
quite long ago, you published a report entitled “On Development
of Economic Mechanism of the USSR”. In this report you warned
about the forthcoming economic crisis in the country. And
after this report your problems with the KGB began. They called
you for questioning and so on, and then they sent you to undergo
treatment allegedly from tuberculosis. That’s how you wrote
about it, “I was told after a health survey that I have a
tuberculosis in an open form and they sent me to hospital
at once. I stayed in hospital for nine months. And at home
they had to burn all my books and my things. So it all was
very bad.” That’s how you wrote about it. How can you explain
– and this is my sincere question – that you joined the CPSU
(communist party) after you left the hospital? I can not understand
this. Or it is some mistake?
Yavlinsky: No, it was not like this.
Pozner: You did not join the CPSU in 1985, did you?
Pozner: Bu when then?
Yavlinsky: First, I managed to leave the hospital because
Gorbachev cam to power. I has troubles in Brezhnev’s period,
however, I did not have any troubles when Andropov was in
Pozner: But you were there then?
Yavlinsky: I worked in the institute, But then Chernenko
came to power and my troubles began, it was the peak of my
troubles, in other words, I was in great trouble.
Pozner: And then they sent you to hospital [with a faked
Yavlinsky: Yes, but all this stopped when Gorbachev emerged,
and it stopped in an instant, and they all let me go in this
Pozner: But had you been a communist party member before
Yavlinsky: No, I had a been a Komsomol member before that.
But then, when I left Komsomol to continue work where I worked
in 1984-1985 I had to be a communist party member… I left
Komsomol in 1985 in spring, I do not remember already when
it was exactly in 1984 or in 1985, as I could not delay with
this any more as I was too old for the Komsomol.
Pozner: You mean to say that you joined the communist party
simply to preserve your job? Can I put it like this?
Yavlinsky: Yes, you can.
Pozner: Or did you believe to Gorbachev that something will
Yavlinsky: By the way, all the story with that my report
was connected with the fact that I had made an analysis there
that the economic system of the Soviet Union would not function.
I love my country and I loved it then and I did not want it
to collapse. I began insisting that we had to change the system.
In that period it looked like a crime. You know what were
they all asking me about? They were asking me, “Who taught
you to write this?” And I answered, “Noone.” – “Until you
tell us who taught you…” So all the discussions evolved around
their desire to make me tell that it was the director of the
institute or someone else…
Pozner: Should I understand it like this, that you, Grigory
Alexeyevich, thought then that the system could be changed
and that it should not be abolished and if some things were
changed it could function?
Yavlinsky: You know I came to understanding what the system
was about very gradually. If you allow me I could in a few
words explain how it happened if you are eager to know.
Pozner: I think it is interesting to other people as well,
not only to me.
Yavlinsky: As economist I specialised in labour. My specialisation
refers to organisation, efficiency, labour rating, labour
incentives and labour at work place. After graduating from
the institute I was sent to the Ministry of Coal Industry
and worked for quite a long period – tree or four years –
at coal mines in Kuzbass and in Korkino, Chelyabinsk region.
I worked their as a specialist on rate setting – and this
implies going down to the mines and works daily with the miners,
together with them. So I came to a conclusion that there was
absolutely no method to organise the workers’ labour in such
a way so that they would like to work, work better and reach
higher labour efficiency speaking in economic terms. There
could be no incentives nor interest, and, consequently, no
progress. And this was the starting point for my speculations.
What were the limitations? What was interfering? Why this
task could not be solved? I gradually I came to the entire
mechanism of planning. By the moment I wrote the work, I had
proved that the entire system would never give people a chance
to work better, more efficiently and with higher productivity.
This was where they found my guilt. As I had such a conclusion:
either we had to transfer to the principally different economic
system or you have to create a system of fear, so that people
should have fear. As it was impossible and unacceptable to
return to that system, we had to change the overall economic
system. However, naturally as the time went by it became obvious
that we also had to change the entire political system as
well. And I did not think much of my membership in the communist
party. I was not a party functionary, I did not take any posts
there. Simply to have this job one had to be a party member.
Pozner: The country learned about you in connection with
the 500 Days programme in 1990s. Let us not now plunge into
details of the programme, however I read it when it appeared
and it was all very interesting. Has, in your view, anything
from this programme been implemented by now?
Yavlinsky: Very little.
Pozner: But there should be something?
Yavlinsky: Of course we are not the same country as we were
in 1988 or 1989.
Pozner: Or course.
Yavlinsky: By the way, the essence of the programme was not
than that in 500 days our country could turn into a Switzerland
or something of the kind. The essence of the programme was
that one had to take up responsibility for what he was doing
and answer every time what had been done and see the perspective,
as well as clearly explain to the people what we were going
to do. That was the essence.
Pozner: In 1991 you were Vice Premier. And you left the government
the next day after the Belovezh Agreements [on the dissolution
of the USSR] were signed. Was this in protest? Were you against
the dissolution of the Soviet Union? Or was there something
else? Why did you leave exactly after this?
Yavlinsky: I held the post of Vice Premier twice.
Pozner: But I mean exactly this case. We shall speak about
your second term later.
Yavlinsky: But I was Vice Premier of the Soviet government.
Yavlinsky: And a decision was adopted in the Belovezh forest
that the Soviet Union should cease to exist.
Pozner: Does this mean that you left due to a formal pretext?
Yavlinsky: No, but I did not support that idea [of the dissolution].
Pozner: Up to the present?
Yavlinsky: No, this problem consists of two parts. This is
an important issue and many people a really concerned about
this. Even my children are concerned about this. So this consists
of two parts. Speaking about the economic part, I was an ardent
supporter of an economic union, maintenance, development and
creation of a free market, creation of a single banking system,
a banking union and preservation of a single instrument of
Pozner: This means the rouble.
Yavlinsky: The customs union. I was a supporter of a free
trade zone and such an economic agreement was developed by
me as Vice Premier. And it was signed. You may be surprised
now, but it was signed in the Kremlin in October – November
1991. It was signed by the heads of ten republics [out of
total fifteen]. And three more republics signed it as observers,
these were the Baltic states.
Pozner: Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
Yavlinsky: Yes. Only Georgia headed by Gamskhurdia then refused
for an obvious reason and Azerbaijan which took much offense
as Russia had been supporting…
Pozner: Armenia in the Nagorny-Karabakh dispute.
Yavlinsky: Yes, all the other republics including Ukraine
represented by its Prime Minister realised that they can not
move forward without an economic union, that [without such
a union] it would be adventurism.
Pozner: So, you were for the economic union, weren’t you?
Yavlinsky: Yes, this one side of the problem. Speaking about
the political union, it was clear that as no steps towards
maintenance, development and, excuse me for the catchy word,
modernisation of the political system of the country were
undertaken in late 1980s, and what was done did not solve
the problem, as politically this organisation was doomed.
It is quite another story how decisions had to be taken, in
what form and how, all this did not meet my understanding
what happened in the Belovezh forest. It this clear? Moreover,
they decided in the Belovezh forest to do away with the economic
union, and they killed it completely. And this did not correspond
to my ideas about the future of my country.
Pozner: And, probably does not correspond now.
Yavlinsky: No, it does not.
Pozner: They were not right from your point of view?
Yavlinsky: No, they weren’t, if everyone has been thinking
at present how to do it.
Pozner: I am asking your opinion.
Yavlinsky: Of course, I can’t agree [with such an approach].
Pozner: All right then. Many people have different memories
of you, but certainly they all remember you as a politician
who has been criticizing everyone and so on. Look. In 1990s,
and here you have used a quotation from Zhvanetsky, however,
without a reference to him, you called these years the years
of typical fight between ignorance and injustice. Then you
criticized Yegor Gaidar’s economic reforms, then you criticized
privatization programme developed by Anatoly Chubais. You
refused to cooperate with the authorities, in particular,
in 1998. You had proposed Eugeny Primakov candidacy to the
State Duma for Prime Minister post, but as soon as he became
Prime Minister and offered to you to become Deputy Prime Minister,
you refused as you disagreed with his economic polices. You
reminded someone of the USSR Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko,
who was known in the West as a Mister No as he was always
answering “no”. And you looked like a Mister Against It All,
so to say. Generally speaking it is pleasant and easy to criticize,
as you don’t bear the responsibility. However, the thing that
you have always been negative: “I am critical”, etc… Here
I have to quote the people whom we are used to consider liberals,
the people of our views in the broad meaning of the word.
Look, Gaidar said, “I know Grigory Yavlinsky well. I respect
him as a clever person and a highly qualified economist. In
my view he is a very clever politician, and he has a very
string political advantage: he always knows when to avoid
responsibility.” This is the first quotation. Now Chubais,
“It is true, Grigory Alexeyevich, that for the eight years
of your presence in the Russian political elite you did not
move hand or foot, you did not do anything except constant,
incessant, clever, responsible and effective speeches.” Viktor
Chernomyrdin, “Yavlinsky has a position. As he took it once
switching one speed, as motorists would say, he has been still
driving that speed. He always keeps saying that any steps
taken by the government are incorrect. This is his position.”
And finally Boris Nemtsov, “No one has even managed to make
an agreement with Yavlinsky. He is not capable of making agreements
pathologically. Yavlinsky reminds me of [a protagonist from
the “Golden Calf” by Ilf and Petrov] Vasisualy Lokhankin.
The latter as you remember was lying on the sofa doing nothing
and discussing the prospects of the Russian intelligencia.”
What do you think about all this?
Yavlinsky: The matter is that I turned out to be right.
Pozner: I beg your pardon?
Yavlinsky: It turned out that I was right. I have been right
that Russia still have not been able to create a normal economic
system because all these people did what they did. All the
persons you have just quoted. That is why we have not had
property in Russia yet. It happens because law doe not function
in Russia, because these people have been constantly violating
the law. And because they have been conducting their policies
we have entirely corrupted Russia today. It is entirely corrupted.
Today they, at least some of them, are weeping and wailing
that they have been ousted from the power. But that was the
matter. By the way, I have also a question to them. What do
you think, if a person have been repeating for 20 years that
“two by two makes four”, should we call him stupid or principled?
Pozner: Well, he is basically educated and principled.
Yavlinsky: That’s it. And all that my colleagues have been
criticizing here, some more delicately some less, comes from
elementary education rather than shrewdness. Also I was saying
such things as “Plundering is bad. I am not going to participate
in the government which has been consistently plundering and
basing its government and its policies on this.” I also told
to Boris Yeltsin in 1996, “Boris Nikolayevich, replace this
government and I shall work with you.” And he answered, “I
can’t. They are all my friends. What are you saying, Grigory
Alexeyevich?” I told Primakov, “Let us form a normal government
after the crisis.” He answered, “No.” He needed people of
absolutely different view in the government, such as Maslyukov,
Kulik and Geraschenko. And he offered me to become his deputy
in social policies issues. I told him, “No, Eugeny Maximovich,
this won’t go. I do not believe in the policies conducted
by these people.” And what did Primakov do? Virtually he did
a correct thing that he was doing nothing, as this help the
economy to recover, which had been meant [when Primikov was
appointed Prime Minister that by doing nothing he would allow
the economy to recover on its own].
Pozner: You have been always accused that you did not want
to cooperate with the authorities, that you did not do that.
As there were people taking up the responsibility and you
did not want to take up the responsibility. And here comes
you answer, look, “I did not agree with the principles and
the logics of the reforms and how these reforms were conducted.
And any normal person who aims at professional and honest
work rather than making a personal fortune, I could not participate
in what was obviously incorrect and even crimeful.”
Pozner: Did you really think that you will be offered exactly
what suited you? It is a mere idealism. There should be compromises,
do you agree here?
Yavlinsky: No. Compromises are good until they have some
meaning. When one party makes half of the way and the other
party the second half. I Russia a compromise is understood
like “do what I am saying. And if you don’t do it, them why
are you so disagreeable?” As no one really intended to discuss
the essence of the problem, to see a partner in the other
person, respect his views and realise that he is taking some
decisions proceeding from his professional views on the developments.
Let us view the Russian history from another angle. All these
persons have said their word. However, how did Russia develop
in that period? Except for the changes that took place in
the very beginning. What was 1992 about? There was inflation
2,600 per cent. Two thousand and six hundred if someone has
forgotten. What was 1993 about? There was a skirmish by the
White House, almost a civil war and gun fire. And this was
provoked from the two sides, not only by the Supreme Soviet.
Boris Yeltsin also provoked the skirmish saying that the deputies
were “antireformist forces”. People asked him, “Listen, we
have inflation 2,600 percent, we are left with nothing. At
least explain us what has been happening!” No! 1994 marked
the beginning of the war in Chechnya. 1995 was remembered
by the meanest story when privatization in the forms of loans-for-share
auctions, distribution of property among a narrow circle of
persons accompanied by statements that we were to build capitalism
soon, began. 1996 – we had elections that could be hardly
called ‘elections’. Since then Russia has not seen unfalsified
elections any more, not once since 1996. 1997 was marked by
the largest bubble in the history of our country, a Ponzi
scheme. Or course, it collapsed in 1998. And again we had
to face crisis, devaluation and again small and medium businesses
were in a terrible situation… 1999 – another war [in Chehcnya]
began, and the change of power took place.
Pozner: Tell me please, Grigory Alexeyevich, if you and people
like you had joined the government and accepted the offers
made to you, don’t you think that all the things you have
been just talking about would not have happened? Or at least
this would have been less acute? Don’t you think that your
presence [in the power], and here I mean all your colleagues,
could have become a positive factor?
Yavlinsky: No, Vladimir Vladimirovich. Unfortunately not.
The matter is that the authority, especially the Russian authority,
represents such a system that if you come there and do not
share the policies of these authorities, you don’t find a
common language with the head of this authority and they will
not give you an opportunity to do anything, never.
Pozner: Ok, Grigory Alexeyevich, they will dismiss you then,
but you can say “I have at least tried.”
Yavlinsky: Listen, first, I was there. I would not be my
first time. I was there and took up the responsibility. By
the way about the responsibility, as all the people you have
quoted were referred much to it, who has even been held accountable
in our country? Who was held accountable for 2,600 per cent
of inflation? Who was held accountable for such privatisation?
So let us not speak about the responsibility. Responsibility
means that one should take such decisions that would not involve
such consequences but would allow for the normal development
of the country. That’s what responsibility is all about. An
finally, to live and work in Russia does not necessarily imply
be a Cabinet member.
Pozner: I agree here.
Yavlinsky: I worked in the State Duma for ten years and initiated
167 laws and legislative acts, and was a person participating
in the discussion of the key political issues and publicly
stating his opinion. And I can repeat what I have been saying
many times: my aim was never to deceive my voters and not
to steal from my country. And our party in general managed
to accomplish this.