Anatoly Lukyanov: Putin follows the lines of Gorbachev and Yeltsin

PRAVDA.Ru interviewed Anatoly Lukyanov, ex-director of the general department in the Communist Party’s central committee, and ex-chairman of the Soviet Supreme Council, who was imprisoned on a suspicion in connection with the State Committee for national emergency. Anatoly Lukyanov is currently a State Duma deputy, a member of the Communist faction, and chairman of the State Construction committee

- Mr.Lukyanov, you are one of the leaders of the opposition in Russia who has several times criticized the leadership. What is your opinion about the two post-Communist leaders of Russia, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin? What do you think Putin’s presidency is to bring to Russia, chaos or revival ?

- To my mind, President Putin is following the policy of Boris Yeltsin. It is based on patriotic views and is also connected with regular contacts with the community, when he answers different questions rather democratically. At the same time, his line is logical and strict from the inside. His policy is directed towards gradual withdrawal of the state from the economy sphere. It resembles the slogan of the prime minister of the period of Yeltsin’s presidency, Yegor Gaidar, “state, get out of the economy!"

But the whole world makes for a different line. The influence of the state on the economy is gaining force, and more and more financing is transferred through the national budget. Social programs are being invested in, which is why the disproportion between the social positions in the population levels. It is done by tax increases for well-to-do people, by the progressive income tax, first of all.

The situation is quite different in Russia. The state has completely lost priorities in the economy. The remaining 500 largest enterprises are currently on sale. I mean the Slavneft oil company; attempts to sell it are being made now. However, in accordance with the legislation, the Russian-Belarussian joint-stock enterprise cannot be privatized. In fact, only 15-17% of enterprises are state-owned now; we have greatly “advanced” in the sphere.

During his visit to Rome, Prime Minister Mikhail Kaysanov said that the government’s top priority was not protection of the state, but protection of property and proprietors. In Putin’s words, the power in the country has been privatized by a group of individuals within the last ten years. And over the whole period mentioned, the ideas and lines did not change.

- Do you mean that young and insolent plunderers ousted the old ones ?

- Nothing of the kind! These plunderers have misappropriated and destroyed the production during the first privatization. They made their fortunes by selling Russia’s largest enterprises for 5-6% of the real value. Then the second phase of redistribution of property took place, when the slogan “we must share” was the basis. We are experiencing the third stage now, when false bankruptcies and the takeover of most enterprises are taking place.

As for the president’s relations with the parliament, they differ from the attitude of Boris Yeltsin. The relations of the ex-president with the State Duma resembled an open war: he “executed” the last Soviet parliament – the USSR Supreme Council in 1993 and later twice attempted to dissolve the Duma. It was at the time when the Duma passed a denouncement of the agreements achieved in Belovezhskaya Puscha (that entailed the break-up of the USSR). Another attempt occurred in May 1999 when the Duma was about to impeach the president. The facts are openly published in Yeltsin’s memoirs.

Putin’s actions are quite different. The history of the State Duma originates from 1906. The first two Dumas were dissolved by the Tzar, and the third Duma created a majority for protection of the Tzar’s government. Smart councilors like Sergey Vitte insisted on it. We are observing the same now. A coalition has been created in the Duma to make the Duma pass any propositions submitted by the president and the government, even obviously unsuitable ones. The coalition is made up by the factions Unity, Fatherland – All Russia, and the deputy groups Regions of Russia and People’s Deputy. Yabloko, the Union of Right-wing Forces, and Liberal democratic party work with the coalition in several spheres.

The coalition provides for the realization of the president’s policies on land, labor, tax, and pension legislation and for theneutralization of the left-wing forces. This is done by voting. The united factions have 260 votes, and 130 votes are made up by the Communists and the Agrarians. The pro-government factions face problems when some constitutional law is to be passed or a veto to be overcome. It can be done with 300 votes only. Thus, the tactic is quite evident. They are trying to create a weak parliament that will operate obediently, like a workshop that mechanically passes presidential and governmental decrees.

As for the foreign policy, the left-wing forces have been supporting the foreign activity of the president for a long period. I mean the improvement of relations with Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, India, China and the establishment of links with the Arab nations, that considered to be a positive factor. But now. Russia, through the president’s actions, advances in moving closer to NATO, the liquidation of Russian military bases, the detriment of the steady relations with the Arab nations, and making concessions to the USA regarding the ABM Treaty, and many other problems.

- So, you think that the president has taken a worthless position when he received information that the USA broke the ABM Treaty and declined to give any political estimations.

I think such position is without foresight. It is a repetition of the line and methods in solution of the foreign policy problems that were used by Mikhail Gorbachev at the end of his presidency. Over the whole Soviet period, all political talks were noted and then discussed by the Political Bureau and the government. Very often, the line of the USSR leaders was amended then. Political envoys of the country were instructed on their political tactics before trips abroad. This was a certain control over individual talks of the political leaders.

Mikhail Gorbachev started changing the tactic when he held talks with President Reagan in Reykjavik in 1986, with George Bush in Malta in 1989, and Helmut Kohl in Arkhyz in June 1989 in a so-called private manner.

Now the top talks are held in an individual manner again. The State Duma receives no information about the course of the talks. And the government and the president are often independent in settlement of very serious problems, which should be solved by the Parliament and the whole of the government. Yeltsin’s policy in organization of informal talks in the sphere of important problems is followed now too. The governmental authorities practically do not participate in the sphere of international relations.

- Do you mean, the government sticks to the rule “I do what I wish” ?

This line is impossible in politics. A smart politician aims at acting so that the rest of the people understand that he follows the rules and traditions and conveys all important information. But, in fact, it is difficult to stick to the rule. The president’s manpower policy has resulted in the domination of the Northern Alliance. At the same time, Putin’s conduct is prudent and efficient. He has grown into an experienced politician already. His line remains consistent, and many new methods are applied for creation of structures in the society and the parliament that could be subject to the president’s policy.

The same line is applied to the mass media. The authorities plan to completely oust patriots from the mass media. Their public appearances are controlled.

Such a line will be probably used in other spheres as well. Local representatives will make their own pro-president coalitions like those we observe in the Duma and the Federation Council now. Communists and patriots will face problems.

They are to understand perfectly well the character of the powers that be and call them by their real names: the power of corrupt capitals that amalgamated with the oligarchs and criminal world. The power belongs to a minority and is imposed on the population. This line aggravates the gap between the rich and the poor. Now, it makes up a 1 to 40 ratio.

Second, the positions in the regions are not to be neglected. A powerful basis is to be created in the local authorities for further advancing to the top levels. The elections in Moldavia, when the Communists have entered a higher level by consolidation of the lower ones, may be an example for such actions. This is a wise policy, as the left forces all over world act so.

To make the current power transparent for the people, all democratic mechanisms are to be used. When patriotic newspapers, Sovetskaya Rossiya (Soviet Russia) publish the course of voting in the Duma, we see the results. Now, most deputies think better what they are to say to the electors, before they press buttons during voting. Informing the electors about activity of the deputies is to become systematic.

At the same time, a legislative basis is to be created to make the deputies answerable for failures to meet their own promises and obligations. The left-wing forces are to appear more in public, to establish close contacts with the population, especially with the youth. This is the key instrument to be used by the Communists and the opposition. This was the opinion of Vladimir Lenin, whose ideas are currently very popular.

Anatoly Lukyanov was interviewed by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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