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Books by Grigory Yavlinsky
Economics and Politics in Russia
The Center for Economic and Political Research (EPIcenter)
Nizhni Novgorod-Moscow, 1992

4.4 Power and Society

4.4.2 Policy of Civil Concord


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Nizhni Novgorod Oblast is now determining the population's social and political interests. Local authorities do not know if they should influence the development of a civic society in the region and do not know how to go about promoting its growth if they decide to do so.

They must carry out the following crucial tasks: - create the requisite conditions for the development of various forms of social organisations and political developments; - draft and implement a system of interaction between state authorities and political parties and socio-political movements, involve them in the drafting of decisions on the region's problems (naturally enough, due account is taken of professional p reparations and interests); - adopt a civil agreement in the region, which will simultaneously ensure a far more effective use of the activities of public organisations.

These aims will be achieved by enhancing the management of social and political processes in the region. This does not imply rule by decree. Instead it should be achieved by the comprehensive active interaction of local authorities with s ocio-political organisations, involving their support or opposition to a particular measure. This system should be used to transmit information from the state authorities to socio-political organisations, and to receive data from the la tter. In this way the authorities will remain in touch with social and political developments in the territory.

The following proposals have been made:

1. The involvement of representatives of socio-political organisations in the drafting of management decisions. Here one should distinguish the experts to be involved in the drafting of specific projects (from the "Greens" movement for discussion of environmental issues, from local historical societies for urban planning issues, etc.) and the leaders of socio-political organisations to be involved in the discussion of principal issues of the region's development, above all in the socio-political sphere. In the second case, regional authorities act as a balancing force, counterpoising the contradictory interests of diverse social groups and peacefully resolving potential conflicts.

Coordinating councils of leaders of religious associations and national and cultural institutions will be set up with this aim in mind in Nizhni Novgorod in the near future. The potential establishment of an analogous council from leaders of political parties and movements is being debated.

The following principles will serve as the basis for all activities of the coordinating councils: voluntary foundation, the information-consultative nature of the work, regular meetings and the advisory nature of all decisions.

2. The creation of a permanently operating system of sociological monitoring, tracing and analysing of socio-political developments in the region. Nizhni Novgorod Region is experienced in these kinds of research: six rounds of monthly analyses of th e region's confidence in federal, municipal and regional leadership have already been held, together with individual research surveys on the population's political leanings, the place and role of entrepreneurs in society, the socio-political views of deputies of the regional soviet, etc.

The transition to regular research would add a new quality to the work. The authorities would receive an operative, reliable source of information about the socio-political situation, and would also be able to determine the true influence of different political forces. Most importantly, they could use the data of independent experts to adopt socially significant decisions and advocate their position with their help.

3. Maintenance of permanent contacts with mass media organisations, reflected in constant and operative interaction with the mass media, mutual respect and trust of both sides in information submitted or due for publication.

At the same time the mass media should not simply represent for the authorities a platform for the explanation and dissemination of their positions: it should also provide one of the key ways of approving civil concord in society.

4. Support from the regional authorities for all significant socio-political initiatives, regardless of their national, religious or party "origin".

5. Use of diverse forms of active interaction between state authorities and socio-political organisations:

- personal presentation by regional heads, to the leaders of socio-political organisations, of arguments on the most vital regional issues (similar steps may be undertaken in a variety of ways, ranging from invitations to attend sessions of the regional soviet to private talks);

- regular provision of information on the activity of local authorities, as well as the results of research on diverse spheres of regional life;

- statements at the sessions of the leaders of socio-political organisations;

- the organisation of public relations campaigns to support or counteract social initiatives;

- the provision of material support to socio-political organisations.

Naturally, in actual practice the interaction of local authorities with socio-political organisations depends to a great extent on specific situations: the degree of political tension in the territory, and the authority and influence of the organisations involved.


Russia has to resolve one crucial issue: it must clearly decide how it wants to develop. Everybody wants Russia to be free and prosperous. But which is the right path to take? There is no single answer to this question in our country.

The concept of regional economic self-sufficiency and subsequent reintegration of Russian territories, proposed by Grigory Alexeyevich Yavlinsky, conforms with the interests of burgeoning entrepreneurial capital in Russia. Owing to this factor, coupled with our personal respect for Grigory Yavlinsky, architect of economic reforms which have constantly been hampered by political machinations, the members of the Entrepreneurial Political Initiative and Economic Reform Development Foundation wholeheartedly support this publication.

Konstantin Zatulin

December 15, 1992


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