| Moderator of the programme: Kirill Kobrin. Vladimir
Baburin interviews the leader of the YABLOKO party Grigory
Kobrin: President of Russia Vladimir Putin held a regional
meeting in Yessentuki "On the conditions and measures to ensure law
and order, public security, fight crime and counteract terrorism and extremism."
The word "corruption" was pronounced several times during the
meeting. Moscow observer Vladimir Baburin asked YABLOKO's leader Yavlinsky
to comment on Putin's declaration at the meeting.
Baburin: "The share of crimes against an individual
is very high," said the President. "A criminal situation has
developed in the country." President Putin also paid special attention
to the intense pressure placed on the economy by crime and corruption.
You have been speaking about this issue for many years: everyone would
not, but did not pay any attention. We have witnessed corruption in the
past, we are seeing it out and presumably will continue to witness such
a phenomenon. Do you think anything might change in Russia now that the
head of state has begun speaking about it?
Yavlinsky: It is good that the President is speaking
about such things. However, I think if we consider Russian tradition and
the experience of the past four years we can already state: words are
far lesser import than actual steps and deeds. I think that in view of
the importance of the declarations that have been made it is time to realise
the following: the executive authorities - and here we are talking about
the head of the executive authorities as our leadership is formed in this
way – should first and foremost adopt certain decisions and act
in this direction.
For example, a new Cabinet was formed. What anti-corruption procedures
were applied? What decisions were adopted to reduce the corruption in
the new Cabinet compared to the previous government? What decisions were
taken to ensure public control over the Cabinet, the secret services and
law and enforcement agencies? We can fight corruption only on the basis
of the transparency and accountability of the Cabinet. However, today
the Cabinet reports to only a single voter, one man alone.
But one person, whoever he may be, cannot control the whole of the Cabinet:
this is simply senseless. If there is no public control, if there are
no public organisations such as trade unions, political parties, different
citizens' associations, if we have a one-party parliament which also belongs
to the same party of power, in these conditions we can do nothing to fight
corruption. Moreover we have no independent juridical system. Everything
revolves around the settlement of scores by certain individuals and certain
Therefore we have a traditional Russian situation: the right words are
pronounced, but no practical deeds are taken. Consequently the opposition
is right to limit itself to words and not deeds when mentioning this issue,
whereas the executive authorities should back up their words on this topic
with deeds and practical steps, something we don't see. To sum up, I can
only recollect that not so long ago, in January, an anti-corruption commission
was set up, which was headed by the Prime Minister of the very Cabinet
where they were going to fight corruption. Surely this was merely a mockery
of the most serious Russian problem?
Baburin: The second prime minister of independent Russia
Mr. Chernomyrdin - I talked to him on one occasion about corruption -
displayed absolutely honest indignation. He said: "How can we live
without corruption? However, don’t quote me on this. We cannot live
without corruption." Today the President says that the transfer of
proxies to fight fiscal crimes to the Interior Ministry has increased
the chances that the ministry will detect and curb such crimes. President
Putin stressed that the militia should not be drawn into corporate conflicts
and disputes between economic subjects. Frankly speaking, I cannot believe
this. And do you believe this?
Yavlinsky: These are only words, and it is very difficult
to see what has been going on in reality behind them. And is it really
true that there is no corruption in this ministry? What about the participation
of the law and enforcement agencies in all this? Once again: we can constantly
track different passages of words. It is right and proper that the President
says we need to fight corruption, it is right and proper that the President
says that structures working in the Russian economy, prone to, if you
like, excessive pressure from law and enforcement agencies should be protected.
But what happens in practice? In practice everything is different.
For example, where did the YUKOS affair bring us? It led to an abrupt
increase in blackmail and pressure exerted against small and medium-sized
businesses, as well as big business, by the law enforcement structures.
What is happening now? They come to them and say: did you see what happened?
- Yes, we did. - Do you know how powerful they were? - Yes, we do. - Then
now you have to pay us more. A businessman says, ok, but what are the
guarantees? - We shall explain you the guarantees: if you don't give us
money, we shall guarantee you even worse trouble, and if you give us money,
we shall guarantee you nothing. That's where such selective measures lead
us. In other words, goods wishes and good advice are a good thing, but
there are no signs that they are being implemented.
Baburin: Several months ago there was a campaign "werewolves
in uniform." Now everyone has gone silent about this. Should we presume
that they have all been caught?
Yavlinsky: No, we should presume that this was a short-term
campaign, and that's it. You are putting these questions absolutely correctly.
In other words, the goals are declared, but in practice it is difficult
to imagine how they will be implemented, as the key people involved in
the previous Cabinet have been retained [in the new Cabinet], the government
structure consists of a more complicated and intricate level of subordination
of officials: this is the main stream of the reorganisation of this structure.
In other words the challenge of corruption against our society has been
retained. It has already become the way of life in Russia.
Baburin: Let me provide another quotation from today's speech
by Vladimir Putin, "Despite a number of measures targeted in the
fight against economic crimes, the pressure exerted by crime and corruption
on the economy has not diminished. This pressure is felt primarily by
small and medium-sized businesses." Why did Putin decide not to mention
big business here?
Yavlinsky: Big business always involves a political
decision. Consequently he didn’t mention big business. However,
his statement about small and medium-sized businesses is correct.
Baburin: That is why I quoted his statement: you have merely
expressed this view, using other words.
Yavlinsky: This is really true. The problem is that
we cannot state everything. Certainly, if we live in accordance with people’s
statements, I have to tell you that one field is constantly narrowing.
We live at such a time and with such a situation in our country and in
such conditions when we state the same thing over and over again that
there should be just courts, that corruption should be reduced and that
the criminal pressure on business should be reduced. Everyone will say
this. We would enter a qualitatively new stage, if people were to start
stating other facts. But the executive authorities, and moreover the President,
should take actions, instead of simply say things. The problem is whether
the words will be followed by practical deeds. The specifics of the economic
system of the periphery capitalism created in Russia, or the oligarchic
system, whatever you call it, are such that all the elite and governing
structures are intricately linked with this system, are an integral part
of the system. They cannot liquidate this system without infringing their
own interests considerably. Consequently the most they can do is simply
to talk about this issue and here they are succeeding.