Svetlana Sorokina: Hello and welcome to the programme “Hero of the Day”.
The results of the parliamentary elections
were announced exactly a year ago. And today parliament passing
decisions on new symbols. The Federation Council approved today the
Duma decision on new state symbols. The leader of the Unity faction said
he would invite President Putin to become a member of the party, so that
he could run as a Unity candidate in the next presidential elections.
How does the leader of Yabloko faction, Grigory Yavlinsky, view the past
year in parliament? He is with us in the studio today. Good evening.
Yavlinsky: Good evening.
Svetlana Sorokina: First of all, I would like to ask you a personal
question. Of late your TV appearances have been
less and less frequent. Even important statements are made by your
Yavlinsky: There were several reasons for that. One, although not the
most important reason, was our
belief that after the election of the new president we should allow him
some room for manoeuvre. He
shouldn't be criticised on every occasion. He should be given a chance
to become aware of the scale of the
problems and his responsibility. In that sense, the pause was
Svetlana Sorokina: But didn't it last a bit too long?
Yavlinsky: In addition - and here we move on to important issues -- we
felt that it was important for as
many people as possible in our country to analyse individually
developments in the country during this
period and draw serious conclusions themselves. In this case our appeal
to them and our policy would
arouse a response. Besides, as you know, apart from your TV company, the
other national companies have
presented political news and political programmes in a manner that
avoids serious issues. They don’t
provide any serious political opinions.
Svetlana Sorokina: Is the moratorium on commenting on the actions of the
President that you have imposed coming
to an end? Has it come to an end for you?
Yavlinsky: It is indeed coming to an end, as we are gaining the
impression that more and more people are
beginning to realise what is actually happening in the country and
what system is emerging.
Svetlana Sorokina: What is happening in the country?
Yavlinsky: First of all, the policy that is being implemented in our
country is the policy not of yesterday, but
of the day before yesterday. It is linked to the nostalgia that a
considerable number of people in our
country hold for Soviet stagnation and Soviet traditions.
We witness a traditional policy, a return to old habits such as a
renunciation of freedom of expression,
renunciation of all freedoms, renunciation of such values as non-use of
the army in internal conflicts,
renunciation of personal initiative and outspokenness; an expectation
that the benefits are about to be
distributed from above. This is the way that most citizens feel. And
this is the main feature of the past
year. The policy followed by the authorities and President this year
tends to restore the mentality of the
day before yesterday.
Svetlana Sorokina: You mentioned that the results of the parliamentary
elections became known exactly a year ago.
The press describes the Duma as totally controlled by the Kremlin. Do
you agree with this statement?
Yavlinsky: Yes, this is indeed the case. In general, the State Duma is
far less effective than even the
previous Duma. However, that is in line with the policy pursued by the
president, and the atmosphere in the
country. For instance, the refusal to set up an independent commission
to launch an inquiry into the Kursk
disaster. Or the vote allowing governors to run for a third term. Or the
vote on the anthem. All these
factors clearly indicate the direction in which political or rather
sociological thought in the Kremlin is moving.
The Duma today follows the Kremlin’s orders.
Svetlana Sorokina: Are you pleased with the work of your faction at the
Duma? Do you consider it to be successful?
In particular its recent work?
Yavlinsky: Well, we are glad that we have managed to relieve you -- I
mean Russia’s citizens - of the
staggering income tax burden. Now it will be 13 percent. I have argued
in this studio and on this
programme on many occasions for a personal income tax rate of 10
percent. I have always been told that
this is impossible. But now it has become possible and we are very
glad. We can say that when adopting
the budget this year we managed to trace assets which the government
admittedly till prefers to hide and
not use. But at least we spoke out about this fact openly. We are
satisfied that we have been able to state
our position on the submarine disaster and about the need for an
independent commission to inquire into
Svetlana Sorokina: But it was never –
Yavlinsky: But we were not given a say on the anthem. So, the situation
is changing. We are satisfied that
our point of view has not changed since our election to the Duma.
Svetlana Sorokina: Irina Khakamada said today that the SPS [Editor:
Union of Right-Wing Forces]intends to form at
least an electoral bloc together with Yabloko by the time of the next
parliamentary elections in 2003, and as
a maximum, to form a single party.
Yavlinsky: We want to form a coalition with the SPS. We are working hard
on this issue in the regions and
in Moscow. Sixty two of our regional organisations are working on a
policy aimed at creating a coalition with
the SPS. Actually, the situation in the country is such that there are
far more basic values and basic
problems that unite us than divide us. We are ready to accept that the
Union of Right-Wing Forces won't
act in opposition to the present administration and challenge official
policy. But that has been the case in
the past as well. However, we are looking for common ground. And we
think that we will be able to set up a
workable coalition. We will move towards an alliance.
Svetlana Sorokina: But the SPS has recently made very sharp opposition
statements. However, in general, it is
thought that if the SPS and Yabloko do not form an electoral bloc, you
won't get into the next Duma and
so such an alliance is a foregone conclusion.
Yavlinsky: This statement has always been made. It has always been used
to try and scare us. I think that
we have enough brains to resolve the problem correctly, because in our
opinion the views of our voters are
what matter, including the reasons why we won their support. This
reflects what we have fought for at the
presidential elections. The reasons for our opposition in the
presidential elections continue to form the
meaning and basis of our work.
Svetlana Sorokina: You signed an appeal in defence of NTV yesterday. I
would like to put this question to you. We
have found ourselves in the focus of political events. You are an
experienced politician. Do you think that
the authorities are consistent in their bid to fully take control of
Yavlinsky: Yes. The same thing holds true for all the other mass media.
It is a political case and our position
is that it is an attempt to undermine the political base of all the
democratic independent political parties. In
general, it is a blow to public policy in principle, and I think the
authorities will be consistent in this.
Svetlana Sorokina: You say that establishing control over the mass media
is part of the plan to create a strong
vertical power structure. Do you think that they will draw a line there?
Is it possible to create a controlled
democracy in our country, as some political technologists say?
Yavlinsky: A controlled democracy brings you along a road that leads to
a dead end. A 21st century
economy can only be created by free people, people who have all
available information about developments
in their country and in the world, people who independently analyse
their own lives and develop the policies
of their country.
It is possible for an agrarian country to become an industrial nation
through a totalitarian regime. However,
the transition to post-industrialism in the 21st century is impossible
in such a state. It simply leads to a
dead end. A controlled democracy involves the constant manipulation and
duping of our citizens. This can
be done and can be sustained for a fairly long time. But nothing will
come out of it. It will lead to an
In general I would like to tell you that Yabloko is approaching the
point when it will become a fully-fledged,
all-inclusive democratic opposition. Our views are diverging more and
more from the statements of the President
and the authorities. We are very close to becoming an opposition,
together with millions of our voters. The
situation is becoming much clearer than in the past.
Svetlana Sorokina: Do you think you can occupy the niche of a
constructive opposition that has been referred to so
Yavlinsky: I don’t understand this term, constructive opposition.
Deconstructive opposition would imply
Svetlana Sorokina: You don't want to be a pirate?
Yavlinsky: To date we have not been pirates. Consequently we are
always constructive as a political
opposition as we say: this should be done differently. For example,
money shouldn't be stashed away, it
should be used to abolish army conscription and establish a
contract-based army. This is what I term an
We are expressing the opinions of the opposition on all key problems.
But we are extremely alarmed, as the
country has stopped worrying about its dead, as the year draws to a
close. This is a very serious issue. The
country no longer pays attention to the fact that hundreds of people die
in the North Caucasus every week
and every month, even of soldiers who do not take part in combat
Svetlana Sorokina: We have time for just one more short question.
Yesterday we started asking our guests
questions from visitors to our Internet site: elita.ntv.ru. Now they can
put the questions to the Hero of the
Day. We picked out the following question for you from the Internet: "If
you create a coalition with the SPS,
will it be named a fruit or vegetable?"
Yavlinsky: Yabloko will remain. We will leave it up to our partners to
decide whether they want to add some
vegetable to Yabloko (Ed. “yabloko” means “apple” in Russian).
Svetlana Sorokina: Thank you very much.
Yabloko and the Grim Symbols of the Soviet Era