Politics / Issue September 10, 2007 ¹69
23 Vladimir Ryzhkov: Actually, politics is banned as a profession
Independent Candidate from the City of Barnaul was not included among first three running figures in the ticket of SPS (Union of Right Forces). Why one of the professional workers of the State Duma of all its convocations is not going to be present there this time? The answer is in the interview below.
Vladimir Alexandrovich, it’s not only you but many other professional politicians who we won’t see in the tickets. Is this rejection being done on a personal level?
The problem is that those involved in this game would never admit it. That would be equal admitting to a crime. The Constitution proclaims equality of civil rights, democracy, and political competition. Admitting existence of a black list means danger of legal prosecution in the future. The Kremlin’s officials and the parties allowed for the election, they have accepted the main rule which is not to let out the game’s rules. But indirect evidence is undeniable. Those who go under defamation, who is libeled, who is banned to be shown in the state broadcasting channels, those will be missing among participants of the coming up parliament elections. These are Ryzhkov, Kasyanov, Kasparov, Glazyev, and Rogozin. Those who rule the movements like the Ours, the Young Guard of the United Russia, the Locals etc., those decide who will be in the tickets.
What are the criteria for getting banned? What Kasyanov is worse than Yavlinsky with? And why Ryzhkov is worse than Nemtsov?
One of the hypotheses is that these are people who collaborated with the Other Russia. But this won’t hold water, as neither Glazyev, nor Rogozin had any relation to this organization. Moreover, they have been dissociating themselves from it and damning it. As for me, I got in the black list before the Other Russia appeared. Do you remember whispering campaign against me in the Altai? I think the Kremlin divides the opposition by the criterion of being acceptable or non-acceptable. Sane politicians accept these rules. The Kremlin is seeking to keep the status quo; it wants to keep control over two chambers of the Parliament, main media and main assets in the economy. New political players are a potential danger for it. The Motherland Party of Rogozin and Glazyev proved to be gaining popularity in the regional elections of 2003. It could grow into a viable organism. So it was destroyed. Generally, Rogozin is the strongest potential figure in the nationalist-patriotic flank. So they demolished his political plans. Glazyev is the potentially strongest figure in the left wing and he could replace Zyuganov and the Just Russia taking over their electorate. That’s why he won’t be allowed for the election.
So you are the strongest figure in the liberal flank?
I didn’t say so. I guess the Kremlin had an idea that I would be able to create some new liberal force. Not with Yavlinsky and SPS but something different. Their apprehension being quite exaggerated, I’m none the better for it. One of the reasons of elimination of the okrug system is that Rogozin and Glazyev would be elected easily within the majority voted system. Then I tried to revive the Republican Party and it was dissolved with the use of the Supreme Court.
Isn’t it too much to make the Duma proportional and to shut down parties in bundles just because of a single person?
Not single. We are talking about fears of any new forces. I am not a megalomaniac to consider myself the reason for such a global change. The Communists Party, Yabloko, LDPR and the United Russia suit the Kremlin. They seem to have accepted the rules. As for attempts to create any new movements, all that just was destroyed.
Why! And what about the Civil Force headed by Barshevsky and the Just Russia formed by Mironov?
I am not talking of forces created by the Kremlin. I am talking about independent forces. I, Kasparov, Rogozin and Glazyev – we all tried to have our own line. Well, the Kremlin has money, energy, power and aspiration. And what have they created? We are going to deal with déjà vu of 8 years ago: Zyuganov, Nemtsov, Yavlinsky, and Zhirinovky.
There are regular “leaks” telling that LDPR will be given up, or the Communist party, Yabloko or SPS won’t be allowed to come to the Duma.
I don’t see any contradiction here. This is to prove again that the Kremlin just wants to conserve the status quo. The constituting majority controlled by the President’s Administration will be gained through 50% of the United Russia and 15% of the Just Russia. The rest, including communists and Zhirinovsky supporters, are supposed to get 20-25%. If some of them fail to get to the Duma, that’s good because it means the Kremlin’s share will be even more. That is why all new players are eliminated, and special-purpose projects are made, and the tame opposition is maintained.
Even political Frankensteins are able to survive. What if the Just Russia gets allied with the Communists and take away the majority from the United Russia in the Duma?
The Kremlin knows the story of Frankenstein. It has learnt its lesson. There used to be a party named Motherland. Where is it now? It has been destroyed!
It is called de jure the Just Russia!
That’s not same party. There is no Rogozin, Glazyev and the half rank-and-file members have gone. And the ideology has been changed completely. Practically, the project was killed. The Kremlin can start up and close down anything it wants. Our election procedure has never been nice fragrant. It was abomination in 1993 when the state machinery worked for the Russia’s Choice and in 1995 for NDR …
And so did you!
– Yes. In 1996 we worked for re-election of Yeltsin. It has always been the same. But before, everyone was allowed to participate in the election and only then opposition was libeled using the administrative resources. Now it’s going to be the first time that the election will be featured not only with mass propaganda but also with mass non-access to the politics in principle. Actually, politics is banned as a profession.
The administrative resource was estimated to be 10% in 1999. What could it be now?
I can adduce one figure. Polls say that 40% of the population is willing to vote for the candidate offered by Putin even without knowing this candidate. So administrative resource is at least four times as much as it was 9 years ago.
You used to belong to same party with Putin, that’s NDR (Our Home Russia). And now there is such great a difference in your profiles! You might have had some disagreement with him that time.
No, our relations, including personal ones were rather good; I would say we had a kind of sympathy for each other. But later our views just parted. The matter is that the Program of the NDR (I know that as I wrote the program) advocated for local government, autonomy of the regions, real federalism, the government of the parliament majority and President’s powers restriction, also decentralization of the budgets. As ideologist, I believed that all the NDR members shared those provisions.
And some members didn’t even read them?
Probably. When Vladimir Putin came to power he began to carry out diametrically opposed policy.
Did you figure out his views that time or was he a black box?
Well, he was a closed person with whom you could speak about tactic and working matters. He is an accurate and reliable partner. But we never discussed his views. It came as a complete surprise to me. I realized that something had to be done about unification of the legislation, tax discipline and Chechnya. But I didn’t think it would go so far. I mean abolition of governor’s election, total censorship on TV, a ban put on most parties, withdrawal of powers from regions. No one could surmise that.
Is that real Putin’s views or is he working for the corporation who brought him to power?
I believe it’s his views. Judging from his addresses and spontaneous comments, I think, he really believes in the power vertical, strong bureaucratic state and that’s why he is skeptical about Parliament, democracy and freedom of speech.
Well, it is going to be a change of leader in the ruling corporation through election. Is there a chance that Putin might make a mistake when choosing the successor?
Yes, there is. This is what authoritarian systems differ from democratic ones with. The power may rely either upon wide range of working institutions or just one person. The personality is of crucial importance in the latter case. It was not our mistake with Putin. I mean neither me nor my colleagues in party did not participate in the choice made for Putin. Boris Yeltsin just appointed him as he always did. I think he did it to guarantee his personal safety and that of his family. And Putin secured that. Not a hair of Yeltsin’s family was harmed. There is always opportunity for change and the new leader to come may have different ideas about system of governing the country.
What election is going to be of greater importance – parliament or presidential one?
The parliament election would be important if all political forces were allowed to participate. There would be a minimum environment for competition and the United Russia would have real problems. The turnout would be some of a record, around 70-80%. And Glazyev and Rogozin would make the criticism tough and factful. The success by opposition would change the whole political situation. And now I think that coming up election is going to affect anything. All will be decided not even in March 2008 when Presidential election will come. All will be decided during the year that will follow when we will see if our new leader is independent and able to bring the change.
As you are not supposed to take part in either election, would you like to give some advice to other candidates?
Well, they are experienced enough to deal by themselves. They are more than experienced people.
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