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Zabaikalskii Rabochii, March 19, 2003

Is Putin a Secret Member of YABLOKO?

By Tzyren Damdinov

Tzyren Damdinov is Deputy Chair of the Aginsk-Buryatsk District Duma

I would like to return to one of the topics raised during the direct broadcast of President Putin's answers to viewer questions (on the threshold of the new year). A military man from a division in Tajikistan managed to "break through" with his question to the President, and as an answer to his question received as a new year present Russian citizenship from the President. At a more profound level, questions arise that are hard to answer. How can it be that our military men, including heroes and order-bearers, do not have Russian citizenship? Moreover, last year (2002), a new version of the Federal Law "On Citizenship in the RF" was adopted. What kind of "product" did out legislators - deputies of the State Duma - create?

The new version of the law turned out to be even worse than the previous version adopted in 1991. Even though the population of our country has been constantly on the decline for objective and subjective reasons, the new version of the law abruptly limits the opportunities of our now former compatriots to immigrate to Russia. Despite the vast, scantily populated territories of Siberia and the Far East, which should be developed efficiently, and knowing that many Russian-speaking people suffer from "mild" or even severe oppression in neighbouring [former Soviet] states, which push them toward emigrate, the policies of our legislators not to "let in" former compatriots, friends and even relatives are at the very least surprising.

The so-called pro-governmental factions [of the Duma], together with [Zhirinovsky's] LDPR, and the leader of the latter, loudly shouts at every possible opportunity about the need to protect "our people" in the former Soviet and other states and yet voted together for the new Draconic version of the law. Approximately half the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) and Russia-s Regions factions voted for this law, while the other half of these factions voted against. The CPRF, the Agro-Industrial Group and YABLOKO, voted against.

However, it was the YABLOKO faction which pushed through an adoption in the second reading of the amendment to introduce a simplified procedure to enable elderly partners, whose children are Russian citizens, to obtain citizenship. This envisages mainly our former compatriots who on reaching a pensionable age should be entitled to live with their children. The amendment was voted through almost unanimously. Hurrah! Or not really. In some whimsical way, later during the adoption of the law in the third reading, when the adopted amendments should have simply been summed up in the final version, this amendment simply disappeared from the text. And despite the statement of the YABLOKO faction about the fraud, despite deputies' statements against such an arbitrary rule, the law was adopted in the third reading without this amendment.

Incidentally if you perform such analysis and take your time to examine the efficiency of the factions in the State Duma, when looking at documents and voting, you can draw the conclusion that this is not a one-off event, but on the contrary a trend. Let us take another example. After the new year the President announced that from January 1 student grants would be increased by two times.

Everyone was satisfied and applauded. Let us look at the statistics of the Duma voting and we see quite a different picture. As early as June 8, 2002, a deputy from the YABLOKO faction of the State Duma initiated a draft law "On Amendments to Article 16 of the Federal Law "On Higher and Post-University Education". The law envisaged the increase of students' stipends exactly by two times (from 200 roubles to 400 roubles) from January 1, 2003. After the pro-governmental factions voted against the allocation of budget means [for education], a compromise was reached: grants would at least be increased from September 1. And only the intervention of the President improved the situation, ensuring implementation of the initial plan of Alexander Shishlov.

So what do we have? Why do we see such absurdities? Who is who here? The President has many "fellow travellers" on words only, whereas in reality the picture is virtually the opposite. A well-known political scientist and publicist from St. Petersburg Boris Vishnevsky conducted a special analysis of the most significant actions of Vladimir Putin as President of Russia. This included tax cuts, increase in wages for budget sector workers, increase in expenditures on education, simplification of the procedure for registering an enterprise, ban on countless audits by the tax authorities, limitation of confiscation of assets to court rulings, introduction of a mechanism to restrict the proxies of regional authorities, declaration of a gradual transition to a professional army, etc. He also compared these actions with the programmes of parties and factions. This generated a quite surprising picture. It transpired that all of this is directly connected with YABLOKO.

All YABLOKO's programmes contained a demand to cut the tax burden and the government always answered that it was impossible to implement and owing to Deputy Prime Ministers Chubais and emtsov stubbornly introduced increasingly tougher tax laws and even a whole Tax Code. When in autumn 2000 YABLOKO submitted a draft law to increase the wages for the first rank of the Uniform Tariff Network, the government did not accept it, but as soon as this took place, they put it on the list of their virtues. Proposals on judicial reform, transfer of the army to a contract basis - everyone is already aware that these are the demands constantly put forward by YABLOKO, they are included in all their programmes of parliamentary and presidential election campaigns of the past few years. YABLOKO has always declared federative policy as "the subjects of the federation should be economically strong and politically weak," i.e. advocated restricting the feudal methods of governors and increasing their real economic proxies. Now let us look at the system of federal districts. It is a long story and the President had obviously had to compromise with the regional leaders lulling them with the present of a State Council cover. YABLOKO has always been a leader in the State Duma in the fight to build real local government in Russia.

The programme of local government prepared and submitted to the State Duma by a man from the President's team Dmitri Kozak will finally make it possible to take the next most important step in implementing another programme step of the YABLOKO party:

If asked to express the conclusions of my analysis of past programmes and the present action of our leaders, I would say the following: Vladimir Putin is a secret member of the YABLOKO party. And there is nothing bad in that. But I don't set myself such a task, I only ask that the reader to be more attentive to the political gabbling , and try to look at the roots, and remember the promises of our candidates to elections at all levels.


See also:

YABLOKO's amendments to the law "On Citizenship in the RF"

Reform in Education

Local Self-Governing

Tax Reform


Zabaikalskii Rabochii, March 19, 2003

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