[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Novaya Gazeta, June 16-18, 2003

Motherland as Nobody's Granny
Nobody is responsible for the national economy

By Andrei Piontkovsky

The atmosphere is quite fitting. The parliament has to bring up the matter to save face. The model of Russian capitalism built under Boris Yeltsin and fortified under Vladimir Putin is much too flawed to provide stable economic growth or a breakthrough into a post-industrial society.

Mikhail Kasyanov's government personifies all the typical features of capitalism.

It took literally years of scandals in the media before the regime finally sacked odious Yevgeny Adamov and Nikolai Aksyonenko, the ministers who transformed their departments into private businesses. Firstly, they stepped down with impunity, retaining clout and power in their empires. Secondly, their behavior in the government may have been much too extravagant but actually typical of the Kasyanov's Cabinet.

The vote of no confidence was initiated by Yabloko and communist factions. It will be interesting and illustrative to gauge the reaction of other political parties represented in the Duma.

The foursome power party that built its strategy around criticism of the government is in a tight fix. Leaders of the party in power castigate the Cabinet whose ministers are members of the party itself.

Voting confidence in the government will put an end to the election strategy. Voting no confidence without the Kremlin's approval is unthinkable.

The Union of Right-Wing Forces is facing a problem of its own. Competing with Yabloko for the traditional democratic electorate, the Union of Right Forces cannot back Yabloko's initiative by definition.

Union leaders say that the Cabinet is not that bad because "it has been implementing numerous progressive ideas of the Union of Right-Wing Forces." On the other hand, the government is horrible indeed, but can it truly be blamed for this? The government is merely a cog in the executive power structure system, the "cleaning lady" to quote Boris Nemtsov. The true evil is in the presidential administration. The general director should be criticized, not the cleaning lady, but

Yabloko is too meek to contemplate such an idea.

All these arguments are not entirely convincing. A vote of no confidence in the government is the only political instrument parliament can use to challenge the executive branch of the government, including the president.

Yabloko has never needed much prompting to castigate the economic policy of the regime, its Chechn policy and policy in the media.

It is all the more strange to hear Yabloko castigated for meekness by the party which made it to the Duma under the slogan "Putin for President, Kiriyenko for the Duma", the party that announced that "the Russian army is being revived in Chechnya and everybody who thinks otherwise is a traitor", the party whose death squad of Kokh and Jordan cleaned up NTV.

Nemtsov is undoubtedly correct about one thing. Where responsibility to society is concerned, Kasyanov's government with its cosy niche in our constitutional system and the title of "technical" is truly a cleaning lady. But where is the general director then? Where is the individual whom we can ask about the level of capitalisation?

The president in our system is a divine figure responsible for foreign policy, security, and such spheres. His references to economic matters are made once a year; mostly restricted to demands for more ambitions and a doubling of GDP. Nobody has bothered to explain whether this doubling will be achieved in seven years (see page 12 of the presidential address) or in a decade (page 19).

As a result, where the economy is concerned we have an irresponsible government and president. I do not mean Kasyanov and Putin personally, I mean the subjects of power specified by the Constitution and the traditions of its application.

Russia is a presidential republic for foreign policy and security issues, and nobody's republic for economic issues. Consequently it is hardly surprising that the "jackals are tearing Russia's economy apart", to quote Presidential Advisor Andrei Illarionov. They cannot help it, the republic is nobody's. The vote of no confidence should apply to Cabinet members and the existing system of irresponsibility.

Will the political establishment find a way out? And let us dismiss all speculations on the conspiracy of some oligarchs out to dismiss Putin and proclaim a parliamentary republic or Putin's intention to play the role of prime minister in a parliamentary republic after 2008.

We do not have a system of political parties in Russia, and the parliamentary republic idea will not work. We should probably try the American system where the president is head of the Cabinet and is responsible (for the national economy too), while the parliament wields much broader controlling functions.


See also:

No-Confidence Vote

Novaya Gazeta, June 16-18, 2003

[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Project Director: Vyacheslav Erohin e-mail: admin@yabloko.ru Director: Olga Radayeva, e-mail: english@yabloko.ru
Administrator: Vlad Smirnov, e-mail: vladislav.smirnov@yabloko.ru