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Grigory Yavlinsky: no discords in the tandem

Grigory Yavlinskys interview to the Radio Liberty

September 22, 2009

The head of the General Staff of Russias Armed Forces Nikolai Makarov expressed his certainty that the US can build a new ABM system only in cooperation with Russia. The only thing left is to get Washingtons agreement for this.

It is expected that the issue of anti-ballistic missile defence will be discussed during negotiations between Dmitry Medvedev and US President Barack Obama in New York on September 23. Earlier the Russian President has given his positive reaction on the decision of the US administration to abolish the plans of deployment of the ABM elements in the Central Europe, and the US President has called the statements of the Russian politicians that Washington allegedly changed its plans because of protests from Moscow paranoid. Radio Liberty is discussing the principles of formation of Russias foreign and domestic policy with a well-known politician and one of the founders of the YABLOKO party Grigory Yavlinsky.

Radio Liberty: Many Russian politicians are enthusiastic about Barack Obama abolishing the plans of deployment of the elements of the American ABM system in Central Europe. Do you share such feelings?

Grigory Yavlinsky: No, I dont, as these missiles and the decision of deployment of the ABM system adopted by President Bush did not threaten Russia in any way. It had a symbolic meaning. What Barack Obama did, was done because he was amending an error made by george Bush, rather than yielding to Russia, as President Bush decision was absolutely inefficient - technically, economically and strategically. He had enough courage to shelve the erroneous plan created by George Bush.

R.L: How do you assess the reaction of the Russian politicians who are speaking about this as of a large diplomatic victory of Moscow then?

G.Y.: As immature, it stirs pity. Such a reaction can not serve as a basis for further development of reasonable, earnest, and, if we further elaborate on this thought, grownup relationships with the developed countries. In general this is a trade-in approach if you give something to me, then I give something to you, if you take away your missiles, we shall help you or will not help you somewhere in Iran such an approach to the world politics is extremely primitive. Such approaches proved leading to deadlocks and inefficient, but, unfortunately they have been widely spread not only in Russia, but in the West too.

R.L.: And in this situation politicians in both the countries have been speaking about forthcoming (or commencing) reload of the relations. Is such a view correct, and if it is, what would you understand under such reloading?

G.Y.: If Moscow could now propose creation of a joint anti-missile defence system, this would be a really significant political and strategic decision. This was voiced in the beginning of 2000s in Moscow, they were developing this and there was some political initiative. Now Secretary General of NATO has said this. This means a reload. This is a fundamental turn of the whole Russias military establishment, different tasks and viewing the potential foes from quite another side compared to how we have been doing it by now.

R.L.: Dmitry Medvedev will have an opportunity to personally tell this to Barack Obama, as the two presidents will meet in person this week. Do you think Dmitry Medvedev may have his independent foreign policy?

G.Y: I think that the present President does not conduct any independent foreign policies. There are general polices conducted by Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. They both made multiple statements on this, and in their recent interviews they have stressed it once again. What will be a real response a trade-in, for example, on restraining Iran or some new criticism? Or, on the opposite, it will be the decision on creation of a joint ABM system, which is really in need? This would be an example of a real reload. It is required objectively, but the question is still open whether such a statement can be made. Most likely, it wont be made.

R.L: Why do you think so?

G.Y.: I dont see and pre-requisites here. The atmosphere youve been talking about in the beginning - some euphoria that the US have allegedly yielded in their postion such atmosphere has been created on purpose in some sense. It demonstrates that we should not expect any earnest, and I would stress the word, honest relations. Russias relations with the USA and Western Europe are at a very low point. Special policies, tactics, strategies are required for their development, and this will not take just one year. I can not see anything of the kind at present.

R.L.: Political experts who have been examining the tactics and strategies of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin virtually under the microscope detect more and more discrepancies between them

G.Y.: I am not a microbiologist. As a person who is engaged in politics I can say that there are no discrepancies.

R.L.: Do you mean that Dmitry Medvedevs statements do not mean anything, when he more often than Vladimir Putin speaks about the rule of law, his adherence to liberalism and the need of democracy? Is this all merely a cover, sheer words or a misunderstanding between Medvedev and his correspondents?

G.Y.: I think that they sit down together, discuss the plan of work and work out the key goals for the nearest week or month. Then this is implemented. If due to some tactical or strategic reasons the thing youve just been talking about should be foregrounded, this is voiced. I think that articles published under the name of Dmitry Anatoliyevich Medvedev are read by and discussed with Putin before publishing. I think that this also refers to various interviews and conferences. All the rest are simply fish stories of those who are engaged in the study of such political microbiology.

R.L.: Do you think that during economic crisis this tandem will succeed in leading the country to the elections and playing the political combination which, according to Putins and Medvedevs statements is being prepared now?

G.Y.: There are no signs at present that this is impossible or difficult to implement. Expectations of some potential protests or socio-political movements during crisis are very naive in my view. I think that other developments will take place under such a consolidated authoritarian regime, where we can see no serious manifestation of civil activity, civil will and civil liberties freedom of speech, actions, meetings and will. In this situation Russia is facing deepening criminalization and enhancing disintegration of the society rather than revolt or spontaneous resistance. The citizens begin solving their tasks absolutely independently, neglecting and even despising the state, rejecting it. This process is very difficult to reverse. It is unseen from the surface, it seems that everything is indifferent, no one protests, but very deep changes are taking place in reality. The political forms can certainly be preserved for the next two or three years. There will be elections, the posts of Prime Minister and President will be somehow distributed. Most likely, Prime Minister will become President again and President may become Prime Minister, something of the kind.

R.L.: Is there a correlation between social moods, political apathy and economic situation in the country?

G.Y.: The problem with Russias economy is not that the growth rates have been falling or even that inflation has been, say, 12 per cent instead of 10 per cent. The problems of Russias economy are of institutional nature. This implies lack of possibilities for business, lack of possibilities for protection of private property. It implies absolute deprivation of rights, lawlessness, lack of arbitration, lack of justice and raiders attacks all over the country. This means absolute arbitrary rule and absence of economic institutions regulating modern market relations. This is the problem. In this sense the past ten years have seen virtually nothing positive, however, nothing is done at all during the present crisis. And this pushes people to solve their problems independently but not in the sense of establishing ones own business, but with the help of what is called corruption, extortions and redistribution of neighbours property.

R.L.: Do you believe in the statement of governmental officials that some stabilisation of the economic situation will take place by 2012?

G.Y.: The crisis has been reducing revenues and employment in the regions. We studied what was happening in the regions in terms of the present crisis and nothing special, indicating of anything extraordinary was observed there, as for all these years the economy has been shallow. It was connected with the exports of raw and was catering for a quite narrow segment of the population engaged in all this. All the rest has remained as it was. The problems connected with education, healthcare and law enforcement have been aggravating in the situation of corruption.

In this sense it is not the crisis which caused the developments. In my view, those who try to use the crisis as a political factor do not assess the abilities of the system correctly it is much more stable as we could imagine. I would like to draw your attention to the following fact: there was no panic connected with banks or inflation, the country observed these economic disturbances quite indifferently. Why? Because most of the population is not engaged in what is called the modern economy, it lives in accordance with its rules and traditions. This leads to a situation when the process of disintegration, decomposition and criminalisation increase as nothing opposes them.

See also:
The original

Russia's ABM Initiatives

Russia-US Relations

Russia-EU Relations

September 22, 2009