Q: What is your attitude to Vladimir Lenin?
Yavlinsky: I don't know why you began with such a question.
However, as we have begun with this issue, let me respond:
Lenin is one of the most important historic figures of
our century. He will remain as such for a long time to
come. Or maybe forever. Lenin was not a politician, whose
actions changed the world . In my view he inflicted countless
suffering on my country. It is simply impossible to calculate
the amount of suffering that he caused. Lenin was someone,
who with his ideology and experiments, placed the people
on the verge of extinction. Lenin's party was the ruling
party in my country and drove it to a national catastrophe.
During its reign, this party was directly responsible
for the deaths of many people. Lenin's name is a sinister
name, which will always remain a bad name for my country.
However, he was a prominent politician of the 20th century
and changed the whole world. (Applause).
Q: Let us imagine that you became president today
and you had five years in power. What should we expect
at the end of your term?
Yavlinsky: After five years I would expect you to elect
me for another term. (Laughter, applause).
A question from Fyodor Shkirenko, a pensioner: Q:
How can you get treatment in an out-patient clinic and,
moreover, in a hospital, if you only receive 450 roubles"?
(equivalent to approximately 19 dollars as of January
1999 - Ed.)
Yavlinsky: I understand the crux of your question. I
personally think that this is one of the most serious
problems of our lives. I empathise with all these people.
But I should say that there are still doctors in our country
who treat patients, believe that it is their professional
duty and calling to do so. They don't work just for the
By the way, people often ask me about the prospects for
the intelligentsia. In my view it was a shameful episode
in our lives when a conference of the intelligentsia was
convened in Moscow and Boris Yeltsin met some of the intelligensia:
it comprised three actors, two professors, one poetess
and someone else. They were defined as the "intelligentsia".
In my opinion, the term intelligentsia should apply to
people, who think not only about themselves and their
relatives, but also about other people.
Doctors who treat patients and don't actually get paid,
teachers who teach children all over the country without
getting paid, the military who try to do something in
their army service - these are the people who really represent
the Russian intelligentsia. Moreover, serving one's state
and motherland is a characteristic feature of the intelligentsia.
Quite simply, our state despises the people who serve
it and chooses to reward instead individuals who are far
from the best people. But this is already another problem.
I deeply empathise with the individual who sent me the
following note.- "Dear Grigory Alexeevich, could you describe
your social policy if you come to power?" I would begin
by making a more general statement. So much is being said
today about the Russian state, statehood and consolidation
of the state. I think that education, health care and
security are the three most important functions of the
Any policy that fails to target development of these
three spheres and instead leads to their deterioration
and destabilisation, is anti-state. You can talk a lot
about some vague statehood aspirations and state symbols,
but any policy that does not lead to the creation of world-class
education and health care systems in Russia, as well as
a security system that allows people to live in peace,
Therefore we should not speak about a separate social
policy: we should instead understand the fact that all
policies should be social in nature. Even if this constitutes
liberal policy, it should make people free and offer them
opportunities. There are always people in a country that
cannot provide for themselves for various reasons. And
state officials should not forget this point. Social policy
involves, first and foremost, education, health care and
assistance for the disabled. Finally, this is a policy
that safeguards an acceptable birth rate for our vast
territory. These are the additional tasks of our social
policy. In terms of birth rate Russia is today ranked
as one of the worst in the world. The first and most important
indicator qualifying the extent of the attractiveness
of social policies in Russia is whether women leave Russia.
If they leave, the social policies are unfavourable. If
they stay, they are favourable. This is because women
are very concerned about making sure that their children
live in a secure environment.
Q: Dear Grigory Alexeevich, do you think that Nikita
Mikhalkov (editor: a famous Russian producer) might become
President of Russia?" (Noise).
Yavlinsky: There is an unrestricted number of presidential
posts in Russia. Today he is President of the Cinematographer's
Union, isn't he? In fact he is Chairman .He may become
President of this Union. Is this what you are asking about?
I think that it is wrong to ask a presidential candidate
whether someone else might become Russian President (Applause).
Q: Today it became obvious that Evgeny Primakov -
approved as Prime Minister on your proposal - has preserved
the status quo in the economy for the past year. But such
a passive policy constitutes almost the worst case development
scenario in today's critical situation. I would therefore
like to ask: can a political prime minister be compared
with a political budget? Why then do you support the former,
if you refuse to support the latter?
Yavlinsky: This is a very good question. Thank you very
much. No, a political prime minister cannot be compared
with a political budget. A political budget is simply
nonsense, as is political bread, a political lorry or
a political bike. A political prime minister is quite
another thing. This individual actually ranks as one of
Russia's top politicians.
The appointment of Evgeny Primakov as Russia's Prime
Minister was related to the situation in Russia after
August 17 1998. Several urgent problems had to be resolved.
Firstly we had to find someone who can act as Vice-President
at times when the President cannot fully implement his
duties for some reason. It was a must. Secondly, it had
to be someone who could call elections, if such a need
arose. Thirdly, it had to be someone who could maintain
a dialogue with the defence and interior ministries and
the Federal Security Service, and that hopefully these
ministries would listen to his opinion. Fourthly, it had
to be someone who wouldn't violate the Constitution and
its basic principles, such as liberties and human rights.
At the very least we knew that Primakov wouldn't undertake
actions that might lead to a breach of basic constitutional
prerogatives. In addition, it had to be someone who could
be proposed by Boris Yeltsin and supported by the communist
majority in the State Duma. It was very difficult to find
an individual who would meet all these criteria. Only
Evgeny Primakov possessed all these attributes. And he
The actual economic policy pursued by his cabinet is
a totally separate issue. He didn't form the right ministerial
team. Evgeny Primakov created a government from people
who are incapable of stabilising Russia's economy and
resolving the most important problems: taxation and debt
issues; the drafting of a realistic budget and - this
is a very important problem, - curbing price growth and
creating the prerequisites to at least initiate economic
growth. These are the five main tasks.
In my opinion, Primakov's cabinet cannot and will not
solve these tasks. When will Evgeny Primakov realise this?
That is something that he is no doubt puzzling over. He
cannot solve these tasks. He resolved the political tasks
that were very important. We should also understand that
the developments of August 17, 1998 objectively brought
us to a situation where the political pendulum should
have started to move left. The task was to restrict the
scope and amplitude of this movement. This was inevitable
after the failure of the reform model proposed to Russia;
the pendulum had to swing in the opposite direction. The
task was to prevent the breakdown of some principal developments
in Russia. Evgeny Primakov acted as this limiting force.
Even today he has prevented the pendulum from swinging
Evgeny Primakov does not share my ideas. As you can understand,
he cannot be a member of Yabloko member, our ally or even
our 'fellow traveller'. But the situation in the country
required such a figure as Primakov. You can judge this
issue, based on the political situation in the country.
Let me reiterate what I have said: he resolved the political
post-crisis tasks: in this sense we continue supporting
him. He won't and can't solve the economic problems. For
the time being at least we have not seen any signs that
they will be resolved.
Q: "Most esteemed Grigory Alexeevich, what is Yabloko's
policy on the arts? You have circumvented this issue for
Yavlinsky: That is right. I left it out on purpose. I
have no idea whatsoever about Yabloko's policy on the
arts. Yabloko's policy is as follows: to leave the arts
alone. (Laughter, applause).
I dream about the day when nobody will interfere with
the arts. Yabloko's policy is to protect the arts from
interference and restrictions. And if we have any money
at our disposal, we will help. It is a simple thing. (Applause).
Q: I fear that the democrats are not united. You don't
want to make concessions towards other democratic parties.
The communists are strong, because they are united.
Yavlinsky: So what? Let me simply add: I am ready to
admit all of them into Yabloko.(Laughter, applause). I
solemnly declare: let any of them join, except for a few
individuals who will be subjected to a five-year trial
term. After five years I will be ready to admit everyone.
Do you want this? We will unite. I don't know any other
ways in which we can unite. This will be a union. The
communists admitted everyone. So do I.
Q: Dear Grigory Alexeevich, I have been following
your steps with both anguish and envy. Today I would like
to ask you the following question: how come an individual
with such a formidable intellect continues fighting with
windmills? Health is a gift from God and is granted only
once, at one's birth. Sincerely...
Yavlinsky: I am at a loss for words. How can one refer
to windmills?! I am totally convinced that my country
and the citizens of this country are not worse - maybe
not better - but are certainly in no way inferior to the
inhabitants of any other nation. If other nations are
able to organise their lives skilfully, then so can we.
We simply have to work at this. This is a hard business.
But we have had a difficult history - not only for the
past 82 years, but also for the past 1,000 years. It may
have been tougher than for other nations. And this is
true. But I have witnessed miracles in my life. And maybe
this fact gives me the strength to fight with the "windmills",
as you like to put it. Just look at these miracles: I
could not have imagined in 1985, 1986, 1987 or even in
1988 that the system I had been born and brought up in
would collapse, disappear in an instant and simply cease
to exist. But I experienced such a development. This happened.
Why then should one not assume that I, my successors and
subsequent generations, will build together a country
on these ruins where our children and grandchildren would
love to live?
I think that Russia will become a European country in
20 years. I think that in 20 years Russia will join the
common international security system. I think that in
10-15 years children who finish school and graduate from
universities in Russia will feel equal to children of
the same age who study in Europe, the United States, Japan
and other countries. I don't see any obstacles to such
developments. We have lived through very hard times over
the past six-seven years. Clearly we are conscientiously
resolved to ensure a peaceful - and this is important
- a peaceful evolutionary change of regime. Consequently
we have kept all those people who have previously been
Since November 1917 we haven't lived a single day without
a ruler from the Politburo. Not a single day, hour or
minute! (Applause). Do you think that we have achieved
everything? We virtually haven't lived in a country, where
a prime minister hasn't been a member of the Central Committee
of the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union). How
do you want us to change everything? Surely you believe
that we should use peaceful methods? However, peaceful
methods take such a long time. The cat's tail has not
been cut only once, as could have been the case: it has
been continually cut. This period is coming to an end.
This is characteristic of all the former Soviet republics.
Almost all of them have the same leaders as in Soviet
times. Democratic principles have not taken root yet:
they don't function yet. People have still not learned
the following; they cannot elect the leaders and political
figures that they consider to be most appropriate. No
system of selection, or civil parties have emerged to
date. As these are fairly rational tasks, why should we
describe them as "windmills"? How much time will be required
to achieve this goal? My answer is simple - we will spend
as much time as necessary. I will do my share of the task
and then other people will come along and go their part
of the way. The main thing is not to give up in despair.
I appeal for you all to do the same. (Applause).
Q: We now have a very specific and interesting question.
Grigory Alexeevich, the Russian Federation owns assets
worth US$650 billion located in 78 countries. Pavel Borodin
mentioned this fact on TV. Surely we need simply to sell
10% of these assets to solve all our problems?
Yavlinsky: I doubt that it is worth US$650 billion. I
simply don't know. This is a specific, rather than a theoretical
question. Assets have the following attributes: when you
own assets, they are worth US$650 billion, but when you
want to sell them, you can't get this money (Laughter).
In addition, in our circumstances even if we were to sell
anything, the money wouldn't reach us. They would sell
the assets abroad, and the money would stay abroad. Therefore
I don't know any magical solutions.
Most importantly, I am told all the time that I have
a tendency to criticise too much. That I engage in excessive
criticism. I criticised illusions. Now we have considerably
less illusions of this nature in Russia. So there is nothing
to criticise. Now we can offer positive programmes. As
I have the ball in my court, let me try to explain what
I believe to be correct.
We should resolutely change our taxation system: very
resolutely, profoundly and fearlessly. In other words
we should have three federal taxes: a 10% profits tax
on individuals, tax on industrial enterprises (aggregate
payments should amount to 20%), and 15% on agricultural
enterprises, as well as a 12% amnesty tax on the shadow
Indirect taxes will be introduced - through electricity,
land and water. Current assessments of profits and the
prime cost and the expenses that should or should not
be incorporated in the taxation base do not work in Russia.
The budget should be formed by introducing general control
over our natural resources. We should make an inventory
on forestry, fish, oil, gas, gold, diamonds and non-ferrous
metals. We should form the state budget from all these
resources. The population should be freed as much as possible
from duties and obligations and laws stipulating that
you cannot keep more than $3,000 at home. The people were
robbed three times from 1992 to 1998. Such a situation
is no longer sustainable. Leave the people alone! (Applause).
I want to inspire you all! How else can we answer the
question about what we should do with our economy? We
should act in a way that enables the people to invest
everything that they earn. We should totally revise the
tax declaration, so that each of you sitting here can
go to the post office and write: "I pay taxes on such
an amount and hereby confirm that I earned this money
without breaking criminal law." And that is all. In this
way individuals conscientiously declare they have not
stolen, killed anyone or been involved in the drugs trade.
What right do you have to audit me, if you have robbed
me three times? Leave me all alone! (Applause).
In my view I am a liberal. Freedom is the most important
value for me. That is true. But today this is not related
to my convictions. People should simply believe that they
can work for profits. That the bandits, state or corrupt
bureaucrats won't come to them and won't coerce or deceive
them. And then something will begin to happen in the country.
And how can the army and the health care system survive?
We should live as follows: we should exploit our natural
resources: we should exploit our natural resources for
10-15 years. God did not neglect us here! He gave us such
a territory and such resources that we must exploit them.
We should not live at their expense and use them up.
We must stop this situation where our economy functions
as the "economy based on pipes". Two tubes were all we
needed - that's a sinecure! We simply sell oil and redistribute
all this money - that is all. We cannot live like this,
as such an economy is subject to colossal crises. Everything
will come to a halt, once oil prices drop. Everything
will come to a halt, once natural gas requirements fall.
This is not our way forward: we should be a modern country.
We should begin as follows: we should provide the population
with an opportunity to work calmly and freely. Privatization
in my country assumed very confusing (one might use a
more negative expression) forms. It was so irrational
that it was virtually impossible to criticise the forms
that it took.
This means that we must do something! Administratively?
That is impossible. Should the state take everything back?
That is impossible. Or I should say that this is possible,
but that it would make things even worse. We must find
economic solutions that are understandable to everyone.
If a proprietor defaults on the payment of electricity
bills, I am afraid that he should then be obliged to transfer
ownership of the enterprise to another individual, who
will be able to produce something and pay both wages and
taxes. In this context taxes include payment of electricity
bills. I don't want to delve right now into specific economic
problems, but I want you to understand what I plan to
It is an unacceptable situation when everything related
to our natural resources is distributed among 1,000 people.
We are not in such a situation. These are the two principal
steps that need to be taken: full freedom to the people
and the transfer of natural resources for 10-15 years
for use for public needs. Then this system will gradually
begin to function. But let me point out another side of
the problem. Why do we have such a scarce budget? People
do not want to give their money to the state. Russia has
produced several laws. One of them reads as follows: a
market economy cannot exist in a country where people
do not trust the government and the state. It simply cannot
exist in such a place.
We require a system that we can trust, provided that
certain conditions are met: that our money will not disappear
in the banks and budgetary money will not be stolen, as
well as some others. If this is not the case, then nothing
works. Today our population holds onto US$40-60 billion
in cash savings and will not give it to anyone. What steps
can we take to make people restore this money to the state?
We should create financial institutions that citizens
can trust. Such institutions must be headed by trustworthy
people and demonstrate within several years that they
can pay interest and return deposits and that the deposits
can be recalled any time. Then this system will begin
functioning. Five or six steps similar to the ones that
I mentioned previously can help us start extricating ourselves
from the crisis.
Then we will require more intricate, complex and specific
decisions. But we must begin with these things. I am convinced
of this fact. Today the opposite is being done. We adopt
a law which stipulates that everyone will be controlled
and prosecuted. Let me explain why I sent Evgeny Primakov
an inquiry on corruption. If you want to fight corruption
(which had been announced by the government), you should
start with yourself! And not with us! Why do you bother
ordinary people? You say: "We shall look out for corruption".
And people think: "Among us". Let me explain: corruption
is different: it refers to the authorities. It does not
concern citizens. Ordinary citizens have their own tricks,
but they are not called by this word. But the government
stated that it was not corrupt. Only the people are corrupt,
and not the government. That was the end of this simple
Q: I do not intend to ask you why the people will
give up 10% of earnings in taxes if they can avoid doing
so or explain where we will suddenly find 200 million
honest people who decide to give up their money. Let us
suppose that they will give this money, as the people
will trust the new authorities and the tax rate will be
low. I don't understand your second point. You said that
we would use the sub-soil, land, diamonds, rubies and
amber for a number of years, say 10-15 years, and we would
progress by placing these resources under the control
of some public controllers. I do not want to upset anybody
who came here, but where can we find these tens of thousands
of honest people in our country? The bureaucrats gain
control over these diamonds. You are one of the few people
whose honesty I don't doubt. I don't want to upset you,
but I would appoint you to supervise the diamonds. This
is true. I am not trying to flatter you! You and maybe
about 30 of my friends! But this is a huge country: forests
everywhere, timber, coal and honest people are required
everywhere to ensure public control for 5-10 years!
Yavlinsky: OK. It is clear to me that I won't make satisfy
you on this point by saying that I have never thought
about this issue. Consequently I will have to try and
answer your question. Firstly, let me explain why people
will pay 10% and not 90% as we have to today. Simply because
it is easier to pay 10%, rather than 90%. Secondly, people,
including the citizens of this country, had developed
the following quality by the end of 20th century - they
want to be law-abiding citizens, provided that it is not
too hard to do. Nobody wants to become involved in an
argument with the state over trivial matters.
Normally, unless people are robbed or hurt, they pay
three kopecks for a tram ticket and five kopecks for the
metro (subway). And most people will pay this 10% tax.
They won't pay it immediately, but they will pay it tomorrow.
You have probably seen the poster: "Pay your taxes and
then you can sleep soundly". If someone tells you at midnight
that your neighbour has paid taxes, you will also pay
this 10%. And then punishment for failure to pay 10% could
be stringent. And nobody will sympathise with you. Because
it is indecent to punish someone for failing to pay 90%
tax, whereas you can punish non-payment of 10% taxes in
a way that will teach people not to try such tricks in
future. To cut a long story short, don't worry about this
matter, as it will be solved.
Let me now turn to the issue of controllers. You have
misunderstood me here. You have understood this issue
in a Soviet way, as is the case where controllers are
everywhere and control everything. (Applause). It won't
be like this. For example, there is a company - I won't
say Gazprom, as this is a sacred thing. Otherwise they
will claim later on that Yavlinsky gathers all Gazprom's
enemies in House of Film, where they were as usual "cutting
off the pipes" (Applause, laughter), that they were dissecting
Gazprom. There will come a point when we will shout: "Russia
and Gazprom are inseparable".
Let me instead talk about the "Gas water company". Imagine
that such a company exists. The director is called Mr
Pupkin. You may call him and say: "Ok, Pupkin, tomorrow
I want to see the balance sheet of your company on my
table! Publish it every six months so that everyone can
see it. And if you lie, then you will be sorry..."
We will not need any controllers here. I am not interested
in what Pupkin does. I am interested in the following
statistics: how much water did he get, how much gas did
he get, and how much gas water did he sell? And how much
money did he get, how much did he leave for himself and
how much did he give the state? And why did he decide
to leave such a sum for himself and such a sum for the
state? We can count such companies on the fingers of one
hand. Each one has its own Pupkin.
We don't need all these controllers: this is called accounting
and auditing. If we want to make something clear, then
we definitely need to conduct an audit. As you know, many
different companies can perform this line of work. They
come, and if Pupkin sees in three or four months that
this is a serious audit, he will go and see them. They
haven't completed their report yet. He will ask them:
"Can't we reach an agreement somehow?" They will answer
that this is possible, but depends on the issue. He says:
"I will tell you everything that I know, but you won't
ask me where I have hidden something". Then they will
answer: "First of all, tell us everything. Then we will
decide whether we want to ask you about it or not." This
is what will happen, verbatim. So what? This happens all
the time in the world. We don't need these controllers
for the whole of our large country. Such problems are
solved by the simple presence of state power.
Let me provide you with another example. With respect
to the aforementioned, in the past everything was done
completely differently. Oil companies were called by one
of the first deputy prime ministers (one of the "young
reformers') 18 months ago. He said: "I have to pay pensions".
They answered: "And what about us?" "You must sell your
oil in advance for 18-24 months, take out loans and I
will pay the pensioners". Can you explain me why such
foolish things are permitted, but we are not allowed to
ascertain one's profits from selling timber or fish? Forgive
me for this simplification, but as we say, the answer
is determined by the question.(Laughter, applause).
Q: Grigory Alexeevich, it has been remarked on a number
of occasions that you are referred to as the most capricious
politician in this country. What is the source of your
capriciousness? Is this perhaps because more fortunate
rivals have climbed higher, and time passes by, while
your rating does not improve?
Yavlinsky: To be frank, if you plan to label someone,
it is better to ask the person who provides these labels
rather than the actual target. How do I know why they
make such statements? Let me try to change this impression.
(Applause). I can promise you that I won't eat everything
that I am offered. I can also promise you that I will
continue seeking hygienic norms in politics. (I believe
that hygienic requirements in politics are very important).
I don't consider them a whim: I think they are usual ordinary
practice. They often ask me: "Do you want to stay clean?"
I answer: "Yes. When I was a child, my mother told me
that it is better to wear clean shirts. If you don't have
any, that is another matter. But if you can wash your
hands, then wash them". And let me add one other thing.
Normally, they don't invite you along to clean things
up: instead they want you to simply sit in the dirt!!
(Laughter, applause). Here I can say that I agree to clean
everything. I will take a spade and clean everything.
I won't just sit there. I don't want to! (Applause).
Q: Could you provide your assessment of the activities
of Alexander Lebed as Governor. How has Krasnodar Territory
fared since Zubov's replacement?
Yavlinsky: I don't live in Krasnodar Territory. How can
I provide an assessment of Lebed's activities as Governor?
From a political perspective I feel that Alexander Lebed
has got into quite a mess there. (Laughter). Will he be
able to extricate himself from this situation? I would
use his "terms": he dropped, but was not wrung out. We
shall see... (Laughter, applause).
Q: Most esteemed Grigory Alexeevich, in the TV programme
"Hero of the Day", Nikita Mikhalkov mentioned a telephone
conversation with you. But he did not go into any details,
adding that you would be able to talk about it. Can you
tell us now?
Yavlinsky: He did not tell me about this (Laughter).
I would be more than happy to repeat half of our conversation:
I said that I considered Nikita Mikhalkov to be a very
talented..... producer. Well, maybe even an extremely
talented producer. I also told him that he sometimes does
such things that exceed even his own talents. But I won't
tell you anything else. (Laughter, applause).
Q: "Can you explain the underlying reasons for the
economic crisis in Russia and the constant deterioration
of the situation during the reform period. Most importantly,
could you name the culprits? And please don't try to avoid
answering the question.
Yavlinsky: "These are Russian questions, aren't they?
I have already answered the question on what needs to
be done. I still haven't had time to pinpoint the culprits.
I have promised not to criticise anyone. Although now
it is already irrelevant. I can merely state that the
famous Russian questions: "what is to be done?"; and "who
is to be blame?": have been transformed into another couple
of questions. Firstly: "what should the culprits do?"
The second one is a Moscow question. It refers to the
so-called "Moscow intelligentsia": "how did it happen?".
Indeed, how did it happen? There were such nice people
and everything was going so well... That is a very good
question, but it is always repeated on TV when you are
watching events unfold. "How did it happen?" "How could
they act like this"? (Laughter, applause).
And if I am to be absolutely serious, I would say that
we are all to blame. We failed to protect our interests.
I failed to convince you all and explain what I considered
to be right. You failed to unite in force to change the
course of events. In 1996 we elected a president, whose
time has elapsed. As I have already told you, we cannot
return purchased goods. (Laughter). We have received what
we ourselves chose. Subsequent elections should provide
an answer to this question.
Obviously, President Yeltsin is 100% responsible for
developments in our country. Many other people could be
added to this list. But we are all also responsible for
our country: for our voting, seriousness and commitment.
The elections of 1999 and 2000 will determine our choice,
not merely for four years or ten years. This will represent
our choice forever. Simply forever. And the outcome of
these elections will determine developments in our country
in the next century. Everything is drawing to a close.
Yeltsin's period is drawing to a close. Now everything
will be dependent on the prudence, seriousness and responsibility
of the population and on the viability of our nation.
What will the next century be like? This is a question
that we must all consider.
Everyone already understands today that the elections
to the State Duma are as important as presidential elections.
And we will not see any slogans with "Vote with your Heart!"
I would personally call on you to vote with your head,
rather than any other part of your body. Please! (Laughter,
Q: At a privatization auction I bought with my voucher,
on Yegor Gaidar's personal recommendation, six shares
in the Unified Energy System of Russia. In 1998 I received
dividends for the whole previous period equivalent to
4 roubles 65 kopecks. (Laughter). In your opinion, should
special staff be employed to count these amounts and post
them, when such costs exceed the value of the dividend?
How do you assess this privatization process?
Yavlinsky: I cannot see you in the hall, but who on earth
advised you to do this? (Laughter). Ask that individual
whether it is worthwhile maintaining all these costs,
why they did this and how everything is likely to develop.
Maybe he knows how to answer your question.
Q: Here we have a question that we hadn't anticipated:
Grigory Alexeevich, whom do you pity more: Bill Clinton
or Monica Lewinsky? Please, stop, don't laugh, as this
is not all. And could you act like this?" (Loud laughter).
Yavlinsky: Act like whom? I still haven't told you that
half the notes refer to this topic. This is probably a
very exciting problem. The main question goes as follows:
"Mr Yavlinsky, do you have your own Monica Lewinsky?"
And this is signed "Women of Russia". I noticed that you
began reading this note with such a sad look on your face,
but I couldn't understand why. Now I understand. Don't
worry. Don't worry about this, don't be nervous! (Laughter).
What can I say? Of course, honestly, Bill has gone through
hard times. But this is his own fault. Not because he
had a relationship with Monica, but because he gave the
wrong answer to the questions. If he had replied: "This
is my private business", everything would have been over.
But he arranged a nation-wide discussion for 280 million
people about what is sex and what is not sex. And so he
had to suffer all the abuse. But his wife was brighter,
when she answered the questions. She said: "We know everything
about each other and love each other as we are." That
is all. If he had answered that it was his private business,
his own personal matter, the nation would have applauded
him and that would have been the end of the story. But
he began discussing "what sex is" and "who is that woman".
And the congressmen were naturally interested! (Laughter).
This was worth an in-depth study! They even say when
they resign: "It transpired that I also had something
to hide". One of them, their Speaker, remembered something
and resigned. (Laughter). But if we are to talk seriously
about this issue - and there is a serious point here -
impeachment was inevitable as soon as it was discovered
that he had lied under oath. This is because the whole
American justice system is grounded on an oath. And it
is impossible to pardon a president (who was caught red-handed)
lying under oath. Otherwise the whole justice system would
collapse, according to all the "films" that we are shown
here. One of the most important pillars of the American
political system would fall apart. Therefore, once he
was caught, there was no way out. And there is another
aspect. People all over the world think that politicians
often lie. But it is almost impossible to catch them red-handed.
But if they catch someone and he is a leading politician,
then he will be taken to task for all of them.
However, owing to the pettiness of the pretext under
which he was caught, I think that the upper chamber will
leave him in his post. The punished will be standing in
the corner of the Oval Hall. (Laughter, applause). I think,
that the example of Bill Clinton, such as the example
involving Pinochet, is very good and instructive. It means
that justice can also be turned against such people. Unfortunately,
the pretext here is comical and everything is very silly.
But in my view the crux of the issue is correct.
Q: Grigory Alexeevich, according to the results of
an inter-active poll by Evgeny Kiselyov, you have the
highest rating compared to your rivals - 32-36%. However,
you rank only 10% in opinion polls. Why do you think that
there is such a difference?
Yavlinsky: This is very simple. When such an index emerged,
I was told that this was NTV and the callers were Moscovites.
I said: "It is even worse. This is not simply Moscow:
these are NTV viewers." (Laughter). In contrast an opinion
poll involves everybody's views. That is why there was
such a difference. However, how can you pay so much attention
to such matters? If a politician begins paying too much
attention to such things, he can be manipulated. So you
should bear such things in mind, but should not rely on
them too heavily. Furthermore, as you know, elections
and ratings are different things. You may have any rating
on the verge of an election and then your campaign may
fail. And all the ratings will disappear into thin air.
The opposite is also true: you may start with 5% and then
go on to win.
Q:"Grigory Alexeevich, do you really intend to form
a bloc with Luzhkov at the presidential elections? What
is your attitude to the "Otechestvo" movement?"
Yavlinsky: In the 1999 elections, Yabloko will fight
independently to double the number of our deputies to
the State Duma. I am also going to take part independently
in the presidential elections in 2000. Yuri Luzhkov may
also participate in those elections. In that case we will
both take part. That is all that I can say here. I can
only add that we have a mutual understanding and that
this will be maintained, despite all the elections. I
hope that we will be able to develop sensible strategies
and tactics to obtain results that we both find satisfactory.
Don't you think that was a good answer? I rather liked
Q: What do you think about holding a video conference
on the Internet? How do you assess the prospects of the
Internet for Russian politics?
Yavlinsky: We have been creating a party on the Internet.
Can you imagine that? We have many guests and our site
is not bad. I would like to invite all of you who are
interested: we would be very glad to meet you there. Speaking
about politics, there is still a certain group of the
population who work and live in the Net: they are very
progressive and important individuals. Therefore we pay
considerable attention to our conversations on the Net
and explain our position. I discussed this issue recently
and would be glad to hold a press conference on the Internet.
I prefer communication or a conversation, rather than
a press conference, where I could answer all the questions,
and not only ones that had been selected. If we turn now
to the issue of the Internet's influence on politics,
this system is connected with the most interesting people
with direct access. I find their viewpoint very interesting.
But I don't think that will be a decisive factor in 1999
or the year 2000. Let us check now, if you don't mind.
How many people have the Internet at home, please raise
your hands! (Several dozen people raise their hands).
Q: What is your Internet address?
Yavlinsky: Our address is: www.yabloko.ru.
Q: Many questions concern your health. The people
must see that you are a healthy, strong man. Do you go
in for sports and if so, which sports?
Yavlinsky: I am in good health. (Applause). Thank you
very much. I am very grateful to all the people who helped
me when I was ill. The illness was unexpected and unpleasant.
But I witnessed at first hand clear examples of how people
who worry about their profession and are good at it can
help. I underwent treatment in a municipal hospital under
the supervision of very good doctors who came to my aid.
Now I feel much better than before my illness. Soon I
shall go in for sports seriously. To date I have only
been jogging. I have been jogging three or four times
a week for 35-45 minutes, depending on available opportunities.
In a couple of months I will go in for something more
Q: "People say that you are Jewish. Is this true?"
Yavlinsky: I don't know if it simply this stage that
leads people to ask such questions. People never ask me
about this when I go to other places in the country. But
if I go to the house of film, you can be sure that I will
be asked this question. This happens because Gusmann is
here. (Laughter). I can answer this question and have
answered it many times in the past. My mother is Jewish.
Unfortunately she died recently. I loved my mother very
much and still love her. My father is Russian, I also
love him very much. That's it. (Applause).
Q: If Primakov is elected President, would you accept
the position of Prime Minister?
Yavlinsky: This will not happen. Evgeny Primakov will
not be elected President. Why not? Because he will have
to prove that he can attain significant economic results,
if he wants to be elected President. Nothing of the kind
has happened so far. Unfortunately. But he could have
achieved these goals. But he - for some reason that nobody
understands - decided that the Chairman of the State Planning
Committee of the USSR was the best economist. And that
the Chairman of the State Bank of the USSR was the best
banker, and that the Head of the State Agro-industrial
Complex of the RSFSR was the best deputy chairman. That
is why he will not make it: we are living in different
times and the aims and goals are different.
Q: On January 18 a large grouping of Russian National
Unity fascists held a meeting in the centre of Moscow,
in Pyatnitsky street. The militia either calmly observed
or protected them. People with swastikas sell their newspapers
near Tretyakovskaya metro station. The militia drives
away old women selling sunflower seeds and cucumbers,
but doesn't touch tough fascists. Skuratov, Borduzha and
others simply utter the right catch-phrases, but they
don't actually do anything. Why don't the authorities
actually do something about this, rather than merely talk
about what needs to be done?
Yavlinsky: Incidentally, there are many questions on
this topic. The authorities are weak and provide advance
warning, or are afraid to act and hide their heads in
the sand like ostriches. That's it. We must have strong,
tough, democratic and honest authorities to fight these
evil spirits. Such authorities will never let them go.
When we come to power, we will drive out this scum. That's
Q: How do you understand the term, political manoeuvring?
Yavlinsky: It is like skiing in the forest, when there
are trees around you. What would you do? You don't want
to crash your forehead on a tree, and then start manoeuvring.
(Applause). You shouldn't crash your forehead against
everything you see in front of you, because there are
more trees than space around your head.
Q: We have more questions here than space in your
head and you have been working for more than an hour already.
There are many questions and very interesting ones. I
would like to make sure that you are not too tired to
Yavlinsky: Unless you are tired, I would be glad to continue.
You aren't tired?
Yavlinsky: Then I would be glad to answer the questions.
I had been concerned that there are many questions and
I would like to answer them all.
Q: In your opinion what will be the outcome of the
duel between Mark Deitch and Moskovsky Komsomolets and
the Moscow Procurator and General Public Prosecutor?
Yavlinsky: When you speak on TV next time, please tell
Pavel Gusev that he should be ashamed of approving the
publication in "MK-Bulvar" of the bare chests of Angelika
Varum and Leonid Agutin". (Pop singers -Ed.) I don't know
anything about the discussion of Mark Deitch with the
Public Prosecutor's Office. I haven't seen the second
thing you mentioned either. I haven't seen either.
Q: How come you didn't know about the bare chest of
Leonid Agutin before?
Yavlinsky: I don't know anything about it. Unfortunately,
I feel really ashamed about this (Laughter). Unfortunately
I won't be able to speak about this anywhere.
Q: Deputy Elena Mizulina blamed President Yeltsin
for the genocide of the Russian people. Why don't you
blame Zyuganov, Lukyanov, Ryzhkov and other communists
for the genocide of all the nations and for unleashing
the war in Chechnya and Afghanistan? Yabloko frequently
votes together with the communists. It would be far better
if you brought us apples and treated us in line with Russian
tradition." (Yabloko means apple in Russian -Ed.)
Yavlinsky: Deputy Myzulina, at least in my presence,
unless I missed something, didn't say anything of the
kind. We only participate in the work of the commission
on impeachment regarding one point - the war in Chechnya.
We consider this point to be very important. We think
that it is inadmissible to discover that nobody in the
country is ready to conduct an investigation into the
events that took away the lives of tens of thousands of
people. This does not constitute an instrument of revenge,
a quarrel or a form of punishment. We simply want to uncover
the truth. It is absolutely vital.
Deputy Myzulina has accorded only one task in this commission
to my faction and party: to investigate the events connected
with the war in Chechnya. Who gave the criminal orders
that led to civilian killings? Who gave the orders which
sent boys from orphanages to fight in Grozny, where they
were killed? Who created filter camps which were in reality
concentration camps? Who is responsible for the missing
people. How will we be able to find them today? What will
happen with all this? I am stating now for the record
that we will never achieve peace and be safe in our country,
until we have answered all these questions. How can this
be unclear? People from the past have been coming back
to power through various ways and means. It is vital that
we participate in this investigation.
If you want to talk about the way in which we vote, I
would like to state that our voting may sometimes overlap
with that of some other factions. But it is easy to check:
we maintain our own opinion in all principal matters.
We have nothing in common with the politics and ideology
of the communist party, never had anything in common and
never will. This is a matter of principle for us. We are
convinced that the communist party has lost the right
to claim power in Russia forever. (Applause).
Q: What are the sources of financing for the Yabloko
movement?" Signed by a "former communist".
Yavlinsky: Normally such questions are anonymous. "Former
communist" means someone out of 20 million. OK. We have
very simple sources: we live on the funds that we manage
to raise from our supporters. During elections, whether
they are parliamentary or presidential, we publish all
the sources of financing and our expenditure Actually,
fund-raising is essentially a procedure related to the
elections. We don't engage in any entrepreneurial activity
and we don't have any assets. We need money to prepare
for the elections. We are supported by certain individuals
and enterprises. We publish the whole list during the
elections. You can take it. For example, during the presidential
elections this list of my supporters included 45-50 individuals
and enterprises. By, the way, the list was audited and
everything was checked.
Q: From the editor of the journal, "Selsky Mekhanizator"
(Agricultural Machines Operator -Ed.) - I didn't even
know that they still publish this journal - would like
to ask your opinion about reforms in the agricultural
Yavlinsky: Let me focus on a few basic issues. Firstly,
we need to create a technological chain, when a man working
in a field can understand what will happen to his produce.
If he grows potatoes or raises cattle, he should understand
who will buy it, how much he will earn, where this can
be stored, and who will protect his interests, financial
and legal rights. If this chain is put in place, our agricultural
sector will recover. Secondly, we need to abolish the
monopoly in agriculture. Thirdly we need to maintain pricing
parity between the maintenance costs for regular agricultural
reproduction and the costs of fuel and oil.