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Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 22, 2003

"Bolsheviks" Against "Mensheviks"

By Marina Ozerova, Natalya Galimova and Natalya Shpitsina

Moskovsky Komsomolets interviewed prominent Russian parliament members about their attitude to the "principle of one-party rule": It should be noted that representatives of the parties with the best chances of winning the elections are more favourable to the idea than their colleagues from the Duma "minority".

Communists will not oust everyone.

Ivan Melnikov, deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the CPRF:

We have always supported this idea. In our view the presidential proxies should be abruptly curtailed. The government should have the real power. Thus we prefer a parliamentary republic, where a parliamentary majority appoints the prime minister and cabinet. However, at first we would accept the following procedures: parliament appoints only the head of government and key ministers: a list of the ministers could be drawn up in advance. And it should be up to the elected prime minister and President of Russia to distribute all other ministerial posts.

Q: How would you distribute cabinet posts between your party colleagues?

Melnikov: The main criterion is professionalism and a possibility of working in the interests of the country, rather than party enrollment. If we are talking about a possible prime minister, I can name you two of the most suitable candidates: Yuri Maslukov and Sergei Glazeyev. Alexander Zhukov, present chairman of the Duma budget committee could head the financial-economic bloc. And from my colleagues v Nikolai Sapozhnikov and Nikolai Arefiyev. In education I would recommend the Rector of the Baumann Technological University Yuri Fyodorov or the rector of Lomonosov University Viktor Sadovnichii. The science and research and space could be headed by Zhores Alfyorov and Svetlana Savitskaya. The military, interior, and secret services could be headed by Leonid Ivashov, Yuri Rodionov and ViktorIlyukhin: But don't think that we have already made up our minds on all the appointments and will recommend only these people and nobody else. Furthermore I am not implying that all cabinet members today are bad. These people are restricted by certain conditions and limitations. In other circumstances the population would be satisfied with their work. For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the most professional part of the present government. This is a professional team and by and large should not be changed.

'United Russia' fears sabotage

Vyachslav Volodin, leader of the Fatherland - All Russia faction:

If you ask an American which party rules in the USA, he will tell you - the Republican Party, and if you ask a British citizen he will say the Labour Party. In our country individuals, rather than parties, have tended to represent the authorities. If a party bureaucrat is efficient, he brings a plus to the party he represents. If he fails to fulfill his task, people will stop voting for his party and the party will have to think about whether they need such a minister.

In my view, formation of the government based on the party principle is only possible in a society with developed democratic and party traditions. I am certain that such a time will come to Russia too. But we have to lay the grounds today. A decision on whether the government after the elections is a coalition government or a parliamentary majority government will depend on the way in which the Russian party system develops and what is best for our country by that time.

Vladimir Pekhtin, leader of the 'Unity' faction:

I think that the government should be formed by the party that wins the parliamentary elections. In case of a coalition government at best we will have to face constant resignations of ministers from the opposition parties. And at worst we will have to confront sabotage from the opposition.

The right-wing factions spotted some plotting here.

Boris Nadezhdin, Deputy Head of the Union of Right-Wing Forces faction:

At present the government is formed on the basis of the results of presidential elections and is largely a government of "courtiers". It is formed from one person. That is why we see appointments of childhood friends and former colleagues. It remains unclear who is in charge of what: Minister Gryzlov starts scolding the government and the prime minister berates deputy prime ministers. You are witnessing total schizophrenia. You are witnessing a feudal construction, when it is important to liberate the king.

Ironically, even if we adopt extremely democratic amendments to the law on the government or the Constitution, asserting government by parliamentary majority and sign up to these amendments, etc, this model will to a large extent be controlled by the president.

Q: And why has such a fuss been raised about this draft?

Nadezhdin: The development of the draft began owing to one problem: the problem of 2008 and the young president, whose second term will come to an end; i.e. the real task which needs to be resolved now concerns the role of Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] after 2008. The logical decision is to transform the President into the equivalent of the "English Queen" who reigns but does not govern, whose surname is Putin, where a strong prime minister representing the parliamentary majority will have the real power:

There are too many interests around this idea. In addition to the important things I have told you, don't forget the electoral interests of the former bureaucracy transformed into the 'United Russia' party. They have to demonstrate that they express the interests of the people, that the Deputy Head of the [presidential] Administration Vladimir Surkov is not their boss and that they could become members of the cabinet:

YABLOKO does not see any sense.

Grigory Yavlinsky, YABLOKO's leader:

The talk of the centrists is attributable to their fear of the government they support and proposals they always vote for. They are afraid, as the government has always taken decisions that will not lead to any improvement in the living standards of the population.

That is why the centrists either gather meetings against their own government or collect signatures against a tariff increase: They have decided to demonstrate that they are not linked to this government at all. But this is not true. If they vote for all the laws submitted [to the State Duma] by the government, then it is their government. So this is again a show. Do they mean that they will write a list to the President on the people they would like to see in the government and that he will choose from this list? Let them do it! Because they are his party! Why do they have to make up the whole story?

The idea of a parliamentary republic deserves a serious discussion. But if the President decides everything, and the party that obtained a majority in the Duma can send him their wish list, then at present the [Duma] majority has such a right. The problem is to take a blank sheet of paper and decided what to write on this sheet of paper:


See also:

State Duma elections 2003

Moskovsky Komsomolets, April 22, 2003

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