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Speech by Grigory Yavlinsky at an evening at the Central House of Film
Moderators: Viktor Merezhko and Yuliy Gusmann
January 21, 1999
Q: What is your attitude to Vladimir Lenin?

Yavlinsky: I don't know why you began with such a question. However, as we have begun with this issue, let me respond: Lenin is one of the most important historic figures of our century. He will remain as such for a long time to come. Or maybe forever. Lenin was not a politician, whose actions changed the world . In my view he inflicted countless suffering on my country. It is simply impossible to calculate the amount of suffering that he caused. Lenin was someone, who with his ideology and experiments, placed the people on the verge of extinction. Lenin's party was the ruling party in my country and drove it to a national catastrophe. During its reign, this party was directly responsible for the deaths of many people. Lenin's name is a sinister name, which will always remain a bad name for my country. However, he was a prominent politician of the 20th century and changed the whole world. (Applause).

Q: Let us imagine that you became president today and you had five years in power. What should we expect at the end of your term?

Yavlinsky: After five years I would expect you to elect me for another term. (Laughter, applause).

A question from Fyodor Shkirenko, a pensioner: Q: How can you get treatment in an out-patient clinic and, moreover, in a hospital, if you only receive 450 roubles"? (equivalent to approximately 19 dollars as of January 1999 - Ed.)

Yavlinsky: I understand the crux of your question. I personally think that this is one of the most serious problems of our lives. I empathise with all these people. But I should say that there are still doctors in our country who treat patients, believe that it is their professional duty and calling to do so. They don't work just for the money.

By the way, people often ask me about the prospects for the intelligentsia. In my view it was a shameful episode in our lives when a conference of the intelligentsia was convened in Moscow and Boris Yeltsin met some of the intelligensia: it comprised three actors, two professors, one poetess and someone else. They were defined as the "intelligentsia". In my opinion, the term intelligentsia should apply to people, who think not only about themselves and their relatives, but also about other people.

Doctors who treat patients and don't actually get paid, teachers who teach children all over the country without getting paid, the military who try to do something in their army service - these are the people who really represent the Russian intelligentsia. Moreover, serving one's state and motherland is a characteristic feature of the intelligentsia. Quite simply, our state despises the people who serve it and chooses to reward instead individuals who are far from the best people. But this is already another problem.

I deeply empathise with the individual who sent me the following note.- "Dear Grigory Alexeevich, could you describe your social policy if you come to power?" I would begin by making a more general statement. So much is being said today about the Russian state, statehood and consolidation of the state. I think that education, health care and security are the three most important functions of the state.

Any policy that fails to target development of these three spheres and instead leads to their deterioration and destabilisation, is anti-state. You can talk a lot about some vague statehood aspirations and state symbols, but any policy that does not lead to the creation of world-class education and health care systems in Russia, as well as a security system that allows people to live in peace, is anti-state.

Therefore we should not speak about a separate social policy: we should instead understand the fact that all policies should be social in nature. Even if this constitutes liberal policy, it should make people free and offer them opportunities. There are always people in a country that cannot provide for themselves for various reasons. And state officials should not forget this point. Social policy involves, first and foremost, education, health care and assistance for the disabled. Finally, this is a policy that safeguards an acceptable birth rate for our vast territory. These are the additional tasks of our social policy. In terms of birth rate Russia is today ranked as one of the worst in the world. The first and most important indicator qualifying the extent of the attractiveness of social policies in Russia is whether women leave Russia. If they leave, the social policies are unfavourable. If they stay, they are favourable. This is because women are very concerned about making sure that their children live in a secure environment.

Q: Dear Grigory Alexeevich, do you think that Nikita Mikhalkov (editor: a famous Russian producer) might become President of Russia?" (Noise).

Yavlinsky: There is an unrestricted number of presidential posts in Russia. Today he is President of the Cinematographer's Union, isn't he? In fact he is Chairman .He may become President of this Union. Is this what you are asking about? I think that it is wrong to ask a presidential candidate whether someone else might become Russian President (Applause).

Q: Today it became obvious that Evgeny Primakov - approved as Prime Minister on your proposal - has preserved the status quo in the economy for the past year. But such a passive policy constitutes almost the worst case development scenario in today's critical situation. I would therefore like to ask: can a political prime minister be compared with a political budget? Why then do you support the former, if you refuse to support the latter?

Yavlinsky: This is a very good question. Thank you very much. No, a political prime minister cannot be compared with a political budget. A political budget is simply nonsense, as is political bread, a political lorry or a political bike. A political prime minister is quite another thing. This individual actually ranks as one of Russia's top politicians.

The appointment of Evgeny Primakov as Russia's Prime Minister was related to the situation in Russia after August 17 1998. Several urgent problems had to be resolved. Firstly we had to find someone who can act as Vice-President at times when the President cannot fully implement his duties for some reason. It was a must. Secondly, it had to be someone who could call elections, if such a need arose. Thirdly, it had to be someone who could maintain a dialogue with the defence and interior ministries and the Federal Security Service, and that hopefully these ministries would listen to his opinion. Fourthly, it had to be someone who wouldn't violate the Constitution and its basic principles, such as liberties and human rights.

At the very least we knew that Primakov wouldn't undertake actions that might lead to a breach of basic constitutional prerogatives. In addition, it had to be someone who could be proposed by Boris Yeltsin and supported by the communist majority in the State Duma. It was very difficult to find an individual who would meet all these criteria. Only Evgeny Primakov possessed all these attributes. And he was appointed.

The actual economic policy pursued by his cabinet is a totally separate issue. He didn't form the right ministerial team. Evgeny Primakov created a government from people who are incapable of stabilising Russia's economy and resolving the most important problems: taxation and debt issues; the drafting of a realistic budget and - this is a very important problem, - curbing price growth and creating the prerequisites to at least initiate economic growth. These are the five main tasks.

In my opinion, Primakov's cabinet cannot and will not solve these tasks. When will Evgeny Primakov realise this? That is something that he is no doubt puzzling over. He cannot solve these tasks. He resolved the political tasks that were very important. We should also understand that the developments of August 17, 1998 objectively brought us to a situation where the political pendulum should have started to move left. The task was to restrict the scope and amplitude of this movement. This was inevitable after the failure of the reform model proposed to Russia; the pendulum had to swing in the opposite direction. The task was to prevent the breakdown of some principal developments in Russia. Evgeny Primakov acted as this limiting force. Even today he has prevented the pendulum from swinging further left.

Evgeny Primakov does not share my ideas. As you can understand, he cannot be a member of Yabloko member, our ally or even our 'fellow traveller'. But the situation in the country required such a figure as Primakov. You can judge this issue, based on the political situation in the country. Let me reiterate what I have said: he resolved the political post-crisis tasks: in this sense we continue supporting him. He won't and can't solve the economic problems. For the time being at least we have not seen any signs that they will be resolved.

Q: "Most esteemed Grigory Alexeevich, what is Yabloko's policy on the arts? You have circumvented this issue for some reason.

Yavlinsky: That is right. I left it out on purpose. I have no idea whatsoever about Yabloko's policy on the arts. Yabloko's policy is as follows: to leave the arts alone. (Laughter, applause).

I dream about the day when nobody will interfere with the arts. Yabloko's policy is to protect the arts from interference and restrictions. And if we have any money at our disposal, we will help. It is a simple thing. (Applause).

Q: I fear that the democrats are not united. You don't want to make concessions towards other democratic parties. The communists are strong, because they are united.

Yavlinsky: So what? Let me simply add: I am ready to admit all of them into Yabloko.(Laughter, applause). I solemnly declare: let any of them join, except for a few individuals who will be subjected to a five-year trial term. After five years I will be ready to admit everyone. Do you want this? We will unite. I don't know any other ways in which we can unite. This will be a union. The communists admitted everyone. So do I.

Q: Dear Grigory Alexeevich, I have been following your steps with both anguish and envy. Today I would like to ask you the following question: how come an individual with such a formidable intellect continues fighting with windmills? Health is a gift from God and is granted only once, at one's birth. Sincerely...

Yavlinsky: I am at a loss for words. How can one refer to windmills?! I am totally convinced that my country and the citizens of this country are not worse - maybe not better - but are certainly in no way inferior to the inhabitants of any other nation. If other nations are able to organise their lives skilfully, then so can we. We simply have to work at this. This is a hard business.

But we have had a difficult history - not only for the past 82 years, but also for the past 1,000 years. It may have been tougher than for other nations. And this is true. But I have witnessed miracles in my life. And maybe this fact gives me the strength to fight with the "windmills", as you like to put it. Just look at these miracles: I could not have imagined in 1985, 1986, 1987 or even in 1988 that the system I had been born and brought up in would collapse, disappear in an instant and simply cease to exist. But I experienced such a development. This happened. Why then should one not assume that I, my successors and subsequent generations, will build together a country on these ruins where our children and grandchildren would love to live?

I think that Russia will become a European country in 20 years. I think that in 20 years Russia will join the common international security system. I think that in 10-15 years children who finish school and graduate from universities in Russia will feel equal to children of the same age who study in Europe, the United States, Japan and other countries. I don't see any obstacles to such developments. We have lived through very hard times over the past six-seven years. Clearly we are conscientiously resolved to ensure a peaceful - and this is important - a peaceful evolutionary change of regime. Consequently we have kept all those people who have previously been in power.

Since November 1917 we haven't lived a single day without a ruler from the Politburo. Not a single day, hour or minute! (Applause). Do you think that we have achieved everything? We virtually haven't lived in a country, where a prime minister hasn't been a member of the Central Committee of the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union). How do you want us to change everything? Surely you believe that we should use peaceful methods? However, peaceful methods take such a long time. The cat's tail has not been cut only once, as could have been the case: it has been continually cut. This period is coming to an end. This is characteristic of all the former Soviet republics. Almost all of them have the same leaders as in Soviet times. Democratic principles have not taken root yet: they don't function yet. People have still not learned the following; they cannot elect the leaders and political figures that they consider to be most appropriate. No system of selection, or civil parties have emerged to date. As these are fairly rational tasks, why should we describe them as "windmills"? How much time will be required to achieve this goal? My answer is simple - we will spend as much time as necessary. I will do my share of the task and then other people will come along and go their part of the way. The main thing is not to give up in despair. I appeal for you all to do the same. (Applause).

Q: We now have a very specific and interesting question. Grigory Alexeevich, the Russian Federation owns assets worth US$650 billion located in 78 countries. Pavel Borodin mentioned this fact on TV. Surely we need simply to sell 10% of these assets to solve all our problems?

Yavlinsky: I doubt that it is worth US$650 billion. I simply don't know. This is a specific, rather than a theoretical question. Assets have the following attributes: when you own assets, they are worth US$650 billion, but when you want to sell them, you can't get this money (Laughter). In addition, in our circumstances even if we were to sell anything, the money wouldn't reach us. They would sell the assets abroad, and the money would stay abroad. Therefore I don't know any magical solutions.

Most importantly, I am told all the time that I have a tendency to criticise too much. That I engage in excessive criticism. I criticised illusions. Now we have considerably less illusions of this nature in Russia. So there is nothing to criticise. Now we can offer positive programmes. As I have the ball in my court, let me try to explain what I believe to be correct. 

We should resolutely change our taxation system: very resolutely, profoundly and fearlessly. In other words we should have three federal taxes: a 10% profits tax on individuals, tax on industrial enterprises (aggregate payments should amount to 20%), and 15% on agricultural enterprises, as well as a 12% amnesty tax on the shadow economy.

Indirect taxes will be introduced - through electricity, land and water. Current assessments of profits and the prime cost and the expenses that should or should not be incorporated in the taxation base do not work in Russia. The budget should be formed by introducing general control over our natural resources. We should make an inventory on forestry, fish, oil, gas, gold, diamonds and non-ferrous metals. We should form the state budget from all these resources. The population should be freed as much as possible from duties and obligations and laws stipulating that you cannot keep more than $3,000 at home. The people were robbed three times from 1992 to 1998. Such a situation is no longer sustainable. Leave the people alone! (Applause).

I want to inspire you all! How else can we answer the question about what we should do with our economy? We should act in a way that enables the people to invest everything that they earn. We should totally revise the tax declaration, so that each of you sitting here can go to the post office and write: "I pay taxes on such an amount and hereby confirm that I earned this money without breaking criminal law." And that is all. In this way individuals conscientiously declare they have not stolen, killed anyone or been involved in the drugs trade. What right do you have to audit me, if you have robbed me three times? Leave me all alone! (Applause).

In my view I am a liberal. Freedom is the most important value for me. That is true. But today this is not related to my convictions. People should simply believe that they can work for profits. That the bandits, state or corrupt bureaucrats won't come to them and won't coerce or deceive them. And then something will begin to happen in the country. And how can the army and the health care system survive? We should live as follows: we should exploit our natural resources: we should exploit our natural resources for 10-15 years. God did not neglect us here! He gave us such a territory and such resources that we must exploit them. We should not live at their expense and use them up.

We must stop this situation where our economy functions as the "economy based on pipes". Two tubes were all we needed - that's a sinecure! We simply sell oil and redistribute all this money - that is all. We cannot live like this, as such an economy is subject to colossal crises. Everything will come to a halt, once oil prices drop. Everything will come to a halt, once natural gas requirements fall. This is not our way forward: we should be a modern country. We should begin as follows: we should provide the population with an opportunity to work calmly and freely. Privatization in my country assumed very confusing (one might use a more negative expression) forms. It was so irrational that it was virtually impossible to criticise the forms that it took.

This means that we must do something! Administratively? That is impossible. Should the state take everything back? That is impossible. Or I should say that this is possible, but that it would make things even worse. We must find economic solutions that are understandable to everyone. If a proprietor defaults on the payment of electricity bills, I am afraid that he should then be obliged to transfer ownership of the enterprise to another individual, who will be able to produce something and pay both wages and taxes. In this context taxes include payment of electricity bills. I don't want to delve right now into specific economic problems, but I want you to understand what I plan to do.

It is an unacceptable situation when everything related to our natural resources is distributed among 1,000 people. We are not in such a situation. These are the two principal steps that need to be taken: full freedom to the people and the transfer of natural resources for 10-15 years for use for public needs. Then this system will gradually begin to function. But let me point out another side of the problem. Why do we have such a scarce budget? People do not want to give their money to the state. Russia has produced several laws. One of them reads as follows: a market economy cannot exist in a country where people do not trust the government and the state. It simply cannot exist in such a place.

We require a system that we can trust, provided that certain conditions are met: that our money will not disappear in the banks and budgetary money will not be stolen, as well as some others. If this is not the case, then nothing works. Today our population holds onto US$40-60 billion in cash savings and will not give it to anyone. What steps can we take to make people restore this money to the state? We should create financial institutions that citizens can trust. Such institutions must be headed by trustworthy people and demonstrate within several years that they can pay interest and return deposits and that the deposits can be recalled any time. Then this system will begin functioning. Five or six steps similar to the ones that I mentioned previously can help us start extricating ourselves from the crisis.

Then we will require more intricate, complex and specific decisions. But we must begin with these things. I am convinced of this fact. Today the opposite is being done. We adopt a law which stipulates that everyone will be controlled and prosecuted. Let me explain why I sent Evgeny Primakov an inquiry on corruption. If you want to fight corruption (which had been announced by the government), you should start with yourself! And not with us! Why do you bother ordinary people? You say: "We shall look out for corruption". And people think: "Among us". Let me explain: corruption is different: it refers to the authorities. It does not concern citizens. Ordinary citizens have their own tricks, but they are not called by this word. But the government stated that it was not corrupt. Only the people are corrupt, and not the government. That was the end of this simple text. (Applause).

Q: I do not intend to ask you why the people will give up 10% of earnings in taxes if they can avoid doing so or explain where we will suddenly find 200 million honest people who decide to give up their money. Let us suppose that they will give this money, as the people will trust the new authorities and the tax rate will be low. I don't understand your second point. You said that we would use the sub-soil, land, diamonds, rubies and amber for a number of years, say 10-15 years, and we would progress by placing these resources under the control of some public controllers. I do not want to upset anybody who came here, but where can we find these tens of thousands of honest people in our country? The bureaucrats gain control over these diamonds. You are one of the few people whose honesty I don't doubt. I don't want to upset you, but I would appoint you to supervise the diamonds. This is true. I am not trying to flatter you! You and maybe about 30 of my friends! But this is a huge country: forests everywhere, timber, coal and honest people are required everywhere to ensure public control for 5-10 years!

Yavlinsky: OK. It is clear to me that I won't make satisfy you on this point by saying that I have never thought about this issue. Consequently I will have to try and answer your question. Firstly, let me explain why people will pay 10% and not 90% as we have to today. Simply because it is easier to pay 10%, rather than 90%. Secondly, people, including the citizens of this country, had developed the following quality by the end of 20th century - they want to be law-abiding citizens, provided that it is not too hard to do. Nobody wants to become involved in an argument with the state over trivial matters.

Normally, unless people are robbed or hurt, they pay three kopecks for a tram ticket and five kopecks for the metro (subway). And most people will pay this 10% tax. They won't pay it immediately, but they will pay it tomorrow. You have probably seen the poster: "Pay your taxes and then you can sleep soundly". If someone tells you at midnight that your neighbour has paid taxes, you will also pay this 10%. And then punishment for failure to pay 10% could be stringent. And nobody will sympathise with you. Because it is indecent to punish someone for failing to pay 90% tax, whereas you can punish non-payment of 10% taxes in a way that will teach people not to try such tricks in future. To cut a long story short, don't worry about this matter, as it will be solved.

Let me now turn to the issue of controllers. You have misunderstood me here. You have understood this issue in a Soviet way, as is the case where controllers are everywhere and control everything. (Applause). It won't be like this. For example, there is a company - I won't say Gazprom, as this is a sacred thing. Otherwise they will claim later on that Yavlinsky gathers all Gazprom's enemies in House of Film, where they were as usual "cutting off the pipes" (Applause, laughter), that they were dissecting Gazprom. There will come a point when we will shout: "Russia and Gazprom are inseparable".

Let me instead talk about the "Gas water company". Imagine that such a company exists. The director is called Mr Pupkin. You may call him and say: "Ok, Pupkin, tomorrow I want to see the balance sheet of your company on my table! Publish it every six months so that everyone can see it. And if you lie, then you will be sorry..."

We will not need any controllers here. I am not interested in what Pupkin does. I am interested in the following statistics: how much water did he get, how much gas did he get, and how much gas water did he sell? And how much money did he get, how much did he leave for himself and how much did he give the state? And why did he decide to leave such a sum for himself and such a sum for the state? We can count such companies on the fingers of one hand. Each one has its own Pupkin.

We don't need all these controllers: this is called accounting and auditing. If we want to make something clear, then we definitely need to conduct an audit. As you know, many different companies can perform this line of work. They come, and if Pupkin sees in three or four months that this is a serious audit, he will go and see them. They haven't completed their report yet. He will ask them: "Can't we reach an agreement somehow?" They will answer that this is possible, but depends on the issue. He says: "I will tell you everything that I know, but you won't ask me where I have hidden something". Then they will answer: "First of all, tell us everything. Then we will decide whether we want to ask you about it or not." This is what will happen, verbatim. So what? This happens all the time in the world. We don't need these controllers for the whole of our large country. Such problems are solved by the simple presence of state power.

Let me provide you with another example. With respect to the aforementioned, in the past everything was done completely differently. Oil companies were called by one of the first deputy prime ministers (one of the "young reformers') 18 months ago. He said: "I have to pay pensions". They answered: "And what about us?" "You must sell your oil in advance for 18-24 months, take out loans and I will pay the pensioners". Can you explain me why such foolish things are permitted, but we are not allowed to ascertain one's profits from selling timber or fish? Forgive me for this simplification, but as we say, the answer is determined by the question.(Laughter, applause).

Q: Grigory Alexeevich, it has been remarked on a number of occasions that you are referred to as the most capricious politician in this country. What is the source of your capriciousness? Is this perhaps because more fortunate rivals have climbed higher, and time passes by, while your rating does not improve?

Yavlinsky: To be frank, if you plan to label someone, it is better to ask the person who provides these labels rather than the actual target. How do I know why they make such statements? Let me try to change this impression. (Applause). I can promise you that I won't eat everything that I am offered. I can also promise you that I will continue seeking hygienic norms in politics. (I believe that hygienic requirements in politics are very important). I don't consider them a whim: I think they are usual ordinary practice. They often ask me: "Do you want to stay clean?" I answer: "Yes. When I was a child, my mother told me that it is better to wear clean shirts. If you don't have any, that is another matter. But if you can wash your hands, then wash them". And let me add one other thing. Normally, they don't invite you along to clean things up: instead they want you to simply sit in the dirt!! (Laughter, applause). Here I can say that I agree to clean everything. I will take a spade and clean everything. I won't just sit there. I don't want to! (Applause).

Q: Could you provide your assessment of the activities of Alexander Lebed as Governor. How has Krasnodar Territory fared since Zubov's replacement?

Yavlinsky: I don't live in Krasnodar Territory. How can I provide an assessment of Lebed's activities as Governor? From a political perspective I feel that Alexander Lebed has got into quite a mess there. (Laughter). Will he be able to extricate himself from this situation? I would use his "terms": he dropped, but was not wrung out. We shall see... (Laughter, applause).

Q: Most esteemed Grigory Alexeevich, in the TV programme "Hero of the Day", Nikita Mikhalkov mentioned a telephone conversation with you. But he did not go into any details, adding that you would be able to talk about it. Can you tell us now?

Yavlinsky: He did not tell me about this (Laughter). I would be more than happy to repeat half of our conversation: I said that I considered Nikita Mikhalkov to be a very talented..... producer. Well, maybe even an extremely talented producer. I also told him that he sometimes does such things that exceed even his own talents. But I won't tell you anything else. (Laughter, applause).

Q: "Can you explain the underlying reasons for the economic crisis in Russia and the constant deterioration of the situation during the reform period. Most importantly, could you name the culprits? And please don't try to avoid answering the question.

Yavlinsky: "These are Russian questions, aren't they? I have already answered the question on what needs to be done. I still haven't had time to pinpoint the culprits. I have promised not to criticise anyone. Although now it is already irrelevant. I can merely state that the famous Russian questions: "what is to be done?"; and "who is to be blame?": have been transformed into another couple of questions. Firstly: "what should the culprits do?" The second one is a Moscow question. It refers to the so-called "Moscow intelligentsia": "how did it happen?". Indeed, how did it happen? There were such nice people and everything was going so well... That is a very good question, but it is always repeated on TV when you are watching events unfold. "How did it happen?" "How could they act like this"? (Laughter, applause).

And if I am to be absolutely serious, I would say that we are all to blame. We failed to protect our interests. I failed to convince you all and explain what I considered to be right. You failed to unite in force to change the course of events. In 1996 we elected a president, whose time has elapsed. As I have already told you, we cannot return purchased goods. (Laughter). We have received what we ourselves chose. Subsequent elections should provide an answer to this question.

Obviously, President Yeltsin is 100% responsible for developments in our country. Many other people could be added to this list. But we are all also responsible for our country: for our voting, seriousness and commitment. The elections of 1999 and 2000 will determine our choice, not merely for four years or ten years. This will represent our choice forever. Simply forever. And the outcome of these elections will determine developments in our country in the next century. Everything is drawing to a close. Yeltsin's period is drawing to a close. Now everything will be dependent on the prudence, seriousness and responsibility of the population and on the viability of our nation. What will the next century be like? This is a question that we must all consider.

Everyone already understands today that the elections to the State Duma are as important as presidential elections. And we will not see any slogans with "Vote with your Heart!" I would personally call on you to vote with your head, rather than any other part of your body. Please! (Laughter, applause).

Q: At a privatization auction I bought with my voucher, on Yegor Gaidar's personal recommendation, six shares in the Unified Energy System of Russia. In 1998 I received dividends for the whole previous period equivalent to 4 roubles 65 kopecks. (Laughter). In your opinion, should special staff be employed to count these amounts and post them, when such costs exceed the value of the dividend? How do you assess this privatization process?

Yavlinsky: I cannot see you in the hall, but who on earth advised you to do this? (Laughter). Ask that individual whether it is worthwhile maintaining all these costs, why they did this and how everything is likely to develop. Maybe he knows how to answer your question.

Q: Here we have a question that we hadn't anticipated: Grigory Alexeevich, whom do you pity more: Bill Clinton or Monica Lewinsky? Please, stop, don't laugh, as this is not all. And could you act like this?" (Loud laughter).

Yavlinsky: Act like whom? I still haven't told you that half the notes refer to this topic. This is probably a very exciting problem. The main question goes as follows: "Mr Yavlinsky, do you have your own Monica Lewinsky?" And this is signed "Women of Russia". I noticed that you began reading this note with such a sad look on your face, but I couldn't understand why. Now I understand. Don't worry. Don't worry about this, don't be nervous! (Laughter). What can I say? Of course, honestly, Bill has gone through hard times. But this is his own fault. Not because he had a relationship with Monica, but because he gave the wrong answer to the questions. If he had replied: "This is my private business", everything would have been over. But he arranged a nation-wide discussion for 280 million people about what is sex and what is not sex. And so he had to suffer all the abuse. But his wife was brighter, when she answered the questions. She said: "We know everything about each other and love each other as we are." That is all. If he had answered that it was his private business, his own personal matter, the nation would have applauded him and that would have been the end of the story. But he began discussing "what sex is" and "who is that woman". And the congressmen were naturally interested! (Laughter).

This was worth an in-depth study! They even say when they resign: "It transpired that I also had something to hide". One of them, their Speaker, remembered something and resigned. (Laughter). But if we are to talk seriously about this issue - and there is a serious point here - impeachment was inevitable as soon as it was discovered that he had lied under oath. This is because the whole American justice system is grounded on an oath. And it is impossible to pardon a president (who was caught red-handed) lying under oath. Otherwise the whole justice system would collapse, according to all the "films" that we are shown here. One of the most important pillars of the American political system would fall apart. Therefore, once he was caught, there was no way out. And there is another aspect. People all over the world think that politicians often lie. But it is almost impossible to catch them red-handed. But if they catch someone and he is a leading politician, then he will be taken to task for all of them.

However, owing to the pettiness of the pretext under which he was caught, I think that the upper chamber will leave him in his post. The punished will be standing in the corner of the Oval Hall. (Laughter, applause). I think, that the example of Bill Clinton, such as the example involving Pinochet, is very good and instructive. It means that justice can also be turned against such people. Unfortunately, the pretext here is comical and everything is very silly. But in my view the crux of the issue is correct.

Q: Grigory Alexeevich, according to the results of an inter-active poll by Evgeny Kiselyov, you have the highest rating compared to your rivals - 32-36%. However, you rank only 10% in opinion polls. Why do you think that there is such a difference?

Yavlinsky: This is very simple. When such an index emerged, I was told that this was NTV and the callers were Moscovites. I said: "It is even worse. This is not simply Moscow: these are NTV viewers." (Laughter). In contrast an opinion poll involves everybody's views. That is why there was such a difference. However, how can you pay so much attention to such matters? If a politician begins paying too much attention to such things, he can be manipulated. So you should bear such things in mind, but should not rely on them too heavily. Furthermore, as you know, elections and ratings are different things. You may have any rating on the verge of an election and then your campaign may fail. And all the ratings will disappear into thin air. The opposite is also true: you may start with 5% and then go on to win.

Q:"Grigory Alexeevich, do you really intend to form a bloc with Luzhkov at the presidential elections? What is your attitude to the "Otechestvo" movement?"

Yavlinsky: In the 1999 elections, Yabloko will fight independently to double the number of our deputies to the State Duma. I am also going to take part independently in the presidential elections in 2000. Yuri Luzhkov may also participate in those elections. In that case we will both take part. That is all that I can say here. I can only add that we have a mutual understanding and that this will be maintained, despite all the elections. I hope that we will be able to develop sensible strategies and tactics to obtain results that we both find satisfactory. Don't you think that was a good answer? I rather liked it. (Laughter).

Q: What do you think about holding a video conference on the Internet? How do you assess the prospects of the Internet for Russian politics?

Yavlinsky: We have been creating a party on the Internet. Can you imagine that? We have many guests and our site is not bad. I would like to invite all of you who are interested: we would be very glad to meet you there. Speaking about politics, there is still a certain group of the population who work and live in the Net: they are very progressive and important individuals. Therefore we pay considerable attention to our conversations on the Net and explain our position. I discussed this issue recently and would be glad to hold a press conference on the Internet. I prefer communication or a conversation, rather than a press conference, where I could answer all the questions, and not only ones that had been selected. If we turn now to the issue of the Internet's influence on politics, this system is connected with the most interesting people with direct access. I find their viewpoint very interesting. But I don't think that will be a decisive factor in 1999 or the year 2000. Let us check now, if you don't mind. How many people have the Internet at home, please raise your hands! (Several dozen people raise their hands). That's it.

Q: What is your Internet address?

Yavlinsky: Our address is: www.yabloko.ru.

Q: Many questions concern your health. The people must see that you are a healthy, strong man. Do you go in for sports and if so, which sports?

Yavlinsky: I am in good health. (Applause). Thank you very much. I am very grateful to all the people who helped me when I was ill. The illness was unexpected and unpleasant. But I witnessed at first hand clear examples of how people who worry about their profession and are good at it can help. I underwent treatment in a municipal hospital under the supervision of very good doctors who came to my aid. Now I feel much better than before my illness. Soon I shall go in for sports seriously. To date I have only been jogging. I have been jogging three or four times a week for 35-45 minutes, depending on available opportunities. In a couple of months I will go in for something more serious.

Q: "People say that you are Jewish. Is this true?" (Laughter).

Yavlinsky: I don't know if it simply this stage that leads people to ask such questions. People never ask me about this when I go to other places in the country. But if I go to the house of film, you can be sure that I will be asked this question. This happens because Gusmann is here. (Laughter). I can answer this question and have answered it many times in the past. My mother is Jewish. Unfortunately she died recently. I loved my mother very much and still love her. My father is Russian, I also love him very much. That's it. (Applause).

Q: If Primakov is elected President, would you accept the position of Prime Minister?

Yavlinsky: This will not happen. Evgeny Primakov will not be elected President. Why not? Because he will have to prove that he can attain significant economic results, if he wants to be elected President. Nothing of the kind has happened so far. Unfortunately. But he could have achieved these goals. But he - for some reason that nobody understands - decided that the Chairman of the State Planning Committee of the USSR was the best economist. And that the Chairman of the State Bank of the USSR was the best banker, and that the Head of the State Agro-industrial Complex of the RSFSR was the best deputy chairman. That is why he will not make it: we are living in different times and the aims and goals are different.

Q: On January 18 a large grouping of Russian National Unity fascists held a meeting in the centre of Moscow, in Pyatnitsky street. The militia either calmly observed or protected them. People with swastikas sell their newspapers near Tretyakovskaya metro station. The militia drives away old women selling sunflower seeds and cucumbers, but doesn't touch tough fascists. Skuratov, Borduzha and others simply utter the right catch-phrases, but they don't actually do anything. Why don't the authorities actually do something about this, rather than merely talk about what needs to be done?

Yavlinsky: Incidentally, there are many questions on this topic. The authorities are weak and provide advance warning, or are afraid to act and hide their heads in the sand like ostriches. That's it. We must have strong, tough, democratic and honest authorities to fight these evil spirits. Such authorities will never let them go. When we come to power, we will drive out this scum. That's it. (Applause).

Q: How do you understand the term, political manoeuvring?

Yavlinsky: It is like skiing in the forest, when there are trees around you. What would you do? You don't want to crash your forehead on a tree, and then start manoeuvring. (Applause). You shouldn't crash your forehead against everything you see in front of you, because there are more trees than space around your head.

Q: We have more questions here than space in your head and you have been working for more than an hour already. There are many questions and very interesting ones. I would like to make sure that you are not too tired to continue? Honestly?

Yavlinsky: Unless you are tired, I would be glad to continue. You aren't tired?

Q: No.

Yavlinsky: Then I would be glad to answer the questions. I had been concerned that there are many questions and I would like to answer them all.

Q: In your opinion what will be the outcome of the duel between Mark Deitch and Moskovsky Komsomolets and the Moscow Procurator and General Public Prosecutor?

Yavlinsky: When you speak on TV next time, please tell Pavel Gusev that he should be ashamed of approving the publication in "MK-Bulvar" of the bare chests of Angelika Varum and Leonid Agutin". (Pop singers -Ed.) I don't know anything about the discussion of Mark Deitch with the Public Prosecutor's Office. I haven't seen the second thing you mentioned either. I haven't seen either.

Q: How come you didn't know about the bare chest of Leonid Agutin before?

Yavlinsky: I don't know anything about it. Unfortunately, I feel really ashamed about this (Laughter). Unfortunately I won't be able to speak about this anywhere.

Q: Deputy Elena Mizulina blamed President Yeltsin for the genocide of the Russian people. Why don't you blame Zyuganov, Lukyanov, Ryzhkov and other communists for the genocide of all the nations and for unleashing the war in Chechnya and Afghanistan? Yabloko frequently votes together with the communists. It would be far better if you brought us apples and treated us in line with Russian tradition." (Yabloko means apple in Russian -Ed.)

Yavlinsky: Deputy Myzulina, at least in my presence, unless I missed something, didn't say anything of the kind. We only participate in the work of the commission on impeachment regarding one point - the war in Chechnya. We consider this point to be very important. We think that it is inadmissible to discover that nobody in the country is ready to conduct an investigation into the events that took away the lives of tens of thousands of people. This does not constitute an instrument of revenge, a quarrel or a form of punishment. We simply want to uncover the truth. It is absolutely vital.

Deputy Myzulina has accorded only one task in this commission to my faction and party: to investigate the events connected with the war in Chechnya. Who gave the criminal orders that led to civilian killings? Who gave the orders which sent boys from orphanages to fight in Grozny, where they were killed? Who created filter camps which were in reality concentration camps? Who is responsible for the missing people. How will we be able to find them today? What will happen with all this? I am stating now for the record that we will never achieve peace and be safe in our country, until we have answered all these questions. How can this be unclear? People from the past have been coming back to power through various ways and means. It is vital that we participate in this investigation.

If you want to talk about the way in which we vote, I would like to state that our voting may sometimes overlap with that of some other factions. But it is easy to check: we maintain our own opinion in all principal matters. We have nothing in common with the politics and ideology of the communist party, never had anything in common and never will. This is a matter of principle for us. We are convinced that the communist party has lost the right to claim power in Russia forever. (Applause).

Q: What are the sources of financing for the Yabloko movement?" Signed by a "former communist".

Yavlinsky: Normally such questions are anonymous. "Former communist" means someone out of 20 million. OK. We have very simple sources: we live on the funds that we manage to raise from our supporters. During elections, whether they are parliamentary or presidential, we publish all the sources of financing and our expenditure Actually, fund-raising is essentially a procedure related to the elections. We don't engage in any entrepreneurial activity and we don't have any assets. We need money to prepare for the elections. We are supported by certain individuals and enterprises. We publish the whole list during the elections. You can take it. For example, during the presidential elections this list of my supporters included 45-50 individuals and enterprises. By, the way, the list was audited and everything was checked.

Q: From the editor of the journal, "Selsky Mekhanizator" (Agricultural Machines Operator -Ed.) - I didn't even know that they still publish this journal - would like to ask your opinion about reforms in the agricultural sector.

Yavlinsky: Let me focus on a few basic issues. Firstly, we need to create a technological chain, when a man working in a field can understand what will happen to his produce. If he grows potatoes or raises cattle, he should understand who will buy it, how much he will earn, where this can be stored, and who will protect his interests, financial and legal rights. If this chain is put in place, our agricultural sector will recover. Secondly, we need to abolish the monopoly in agriculture. Thirdly we need to maintain pricing parity between the maintenance costs for regular agricultural reproduction and the costs of fuel and oil.


ei Stepashin on Grigory Yavlinsky's proposals