by Dr.Grigory Yavlinsky, member of YABLOKO’s Political Committee
January 22, 2010
1. General assessment of development of Russia’s political
system since late 1990s and comparative analysis of the present
condition of political institutions:
- concise comparative analysis of the present political
system in Russia;
- assessment of the evolution and the present situation with
the legislative basis for Russia’s political institutions.
The key trait of the present Russian politics is the authoritarian
corrupt bureaucratic system. This political system in contrast
to the provisions of the formally existing Constitution lacks
a real fully-fledged political discussion, political parties
are deprived of an opportunity to normally function, the human
rights component has been consistently ousted out of the non-profit
sector, division of authorities has become fictitious, courts
are not independent and elections have been discredited.
2. Development trends of the political system and
The present Russia’s political system is capable of supporting
stability of the power for some time at a relatively favourable
economic situation and the situation on the world markets,
however it solves none Russia’s strategic problems.
We see the major threat in a conscientious and consistent
restriction of possibilities for public discussion, lowering
of the cultural and political level, rapid “provincialisation”
of the country coupled with criminalisation of the population
and state agencies. A “controlled” discussion within the frameworks
pre-determined by the bureaucrats, with untouchable persons
and tabooed topics represents a discourse that is very far
from the real life and is, consequently, inefficient. It is
unable to implement the key function of a public discussion:
generation of ideas and solutions.
Absolute mistrust to the state and its institutions, the
governments and the law enforcement by a crucially relevant
part of the population represents the most significant trait
of the present political system in Russia. The key incentive
– public trust to the state institutions and the rule of law
– has been disappearing.
The present high ratings of the heads of the state coupled
with extremely low indices of public trust to all without
exception state and public institutions demonstrate extreme
instability of the present political system and fragility
of the so-called “political stability”.
However, in the real situation a deeply rooted process of
deligitimisation of power has been developing inside the society
due to the ongoing disruption of trust (and even complete
loss of trust as demonstrated by the real turnout at the October
elections in 2009) to the institute of elections.
The only prospects for such a system, in case a favourable
market situation goes on, lie in stagnation, continuation
and deepening of a strategic developmental gap not only between
Russia and the world superpowers, but also between Russia
and intensively progressing developing countries.
The demographic problem, the problem of the Eastern territories
development, creation of a modern infrastructure, to say nothing
of modernisation in the broad strategic sense of the word
will remain unsolved.
Lagging behind in science and technologies as well as “brain
drain” will be inevitable. It is impossible in the contemporary
postindustrial global world to hide the “brains” behind the
“iron curtain” and make them create innovations. Talented
people will go where they may enjoy freedom, as “freedom is
better than the lack of freedom”. And this is a key condition
for realization of creative potential of an individual in
the modern world.
We can pass the “point of no return” for development of the
political system already in the mid-term perspective, when
disintegration and decay (as we witness in the interior) become
irreversible, and we shall speak only about the ways and means
to slow down these developments then.
In addition, Russia’s chances to influence the world politics
that we have had all this time will fall. This will led to
the shrinking of Russia’s participation in the solution of
global problems due to the increase of informal isolation
in response to the actual absence and the lack of desire to
cultivate a political system based on the common European
values, and systematic setting forth of requirements and demands
that are absolutely unacceptable to the most of the world
powers together with economic and political weakening.
If the state revenues considerably fall, the danger of disintegration
- in the infrastructure, socio-economic, regional and economic
spheres - will abruptly rise. Russia’s political system was
created keeping in mind an ample inflow of resources. It relies
on authoritative power levers (including informal levers)
in controlling the situation. However, in the situation of
abrupt shrinking of resources accompanied by total criminalization,
the Russian political system will be rapidly losing its influence.
It will be simply redundant as an arbiter or a regulator.
The real control over the situation will go to shadow criminal
structures that will co-exist with the bureaucracy in accordance
with their shared principle “permissiveness in exchange to
the “lack of problems”.
The weakening of the power will be accompanied by intensification
of disintegration developments of all types. As regards territories
they may first of all affect the Northern Caucasus and the
Far East. In the Northern Caucasus disintegration factors
have been corruption, underground ideological resistance and
underground curruptional resistance, that have been forming
up different relation patters between them. In the Far East
the leading disintegration factors have been lack of infrastructure
Extreme danger in any variant of developments lies in the
degradation of public conscience due to substitution of public
discussion on the key problems of the country by their imitation
and implementation of media policies targeted at destructing
public attention form serious topics and buffoonerisation
of the information space.
3. Key directions for further evolution of Russia’s
• raising of the political culture level;
• optimization of the election system on the federal and regional
• further development of public awareness of political activities
in the regions.
Obviously improvement of Russia’s political system is not
reduced to improvements in the organisation of elections only.
Introduction of changes into election laws and fight with
falsification is not enough to overcome the political stagnation.
And the problem lies not only in the technical procedures
of voting. It is clear that in the situation of gigantic corruption,
absence of the freedom of speech, real public discussion and
transparent financing of political activities even ideally
organised election turn into a competition between dangerous
social populists and become instruments for coming into power,
for example, of nazists or fascists.
In the absence of serious attention to the raise of political
culture and freedom of speech, elections in our country will
become a fest of demagogues and populists killing the system.
The main problems and goals of the society and the state
in the field of creation of modern political system and political
reform do not represent a mere correction, they mean bringing
of life and sense into Russian politics.
Only in this case it will be of interest for the people and
will be worthy of their attention. To achieve this we
should first of all raise the level of public consciousness
and open opportunities for public participation in the power
We think that to prevent dissolution of the Russian political
system in 2010 – 2012 we need to undertake the following gradual
but nonetheless decisive steps:
1. State controlled mass media should see elimination of
political and ideological censorship and ban on criticism
of top officials, including President and Prime Minister.
Government’s attempts of administrative influence on mass
media and journalists should be regarded as violation of Article
29 of the Constitution of the RF and should be prosecuted
under law. Public television should be created within the
next two years, it should be open for all points of view and
be free of political censorship and state propaganda.
2. The heads of the country should clearly determine Russia’s
strategic perspective as a modern European state based on
division of powers, priority of human life and human rights;
state decisions giving principled and clear assessment of
Stalinism as political arbitrary rule and hypocritical ideology
of the Soviet period should be adopted.
3. The rights of non-profit (non-governmental) civil organisations
should be completely restored. All the ungrounded and contradicting
to international practices bans of the receipt of financial
aid should be eliminated.
4. A complex of measures targeted at provision of independence
of the court, amendment of judicial errors and revision of
unlawful judgments should be implemented. A system of administrative
courts with a separate procedure for bureaucratic violations
should be introduced.
5. All the law enforcement bodies of the state executive
authority, the interior in the first place, should be put
under public control.
6. Bureaucrats should be transferred to contract work and
state contracts should be concluded with them. All the benefits
they get in accordance with their contracts (wages, housing,
etc) are should be returned to the state in case of dissolution
of the contract due to corruption, arbitrary decision-making
or negligence. All this fully and primarily refer to judges,
police, public prosecutors and secret services. Responsibility
of the workers of the law enforcement should be raised, their
departure from the law should be regarded as grave criminal
7. The possibilities for the executive authority to interfere
into parties or elections should be restricted by law.
8. Measures against excess interference of business into
politics should be adopted, such as laws on transparency of
political parties financing, lobbying in the parliament, ban
to the representatives of large business to take state posts.
The workers of the legislative, the executive and the judicial
authority should be prohibited to take posts in the boards
of state-owned companies and companies with a state-owned
share, moreover to head such boards.
9. Inviolability of the property right, as well as owners’
rights, including their political right to openly and transparently
finance within the framework of the law political parties
and movements should be recognised.
10. Local self-governing should be freed of any excess state
control and should obtain minimum financial sources fixed
on a permanent basis.
11. A system of truly alternative competitive elections should
be introduced on all the levels, election barrier for parties
at elections of all levels should be reduced, measures targeted
at preventing of the so-called “Locomotives” (well known persons
who are not going to work in the representative bodies) to
head party lists should be adopted, a ban for an individual
to take office for over two terms should be introduced, the
share of bureaucrats in the electoral commissions as well
as those who in their post depend on the administration should
be reduced. Elections to the Federation Council should be