On February 6, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin published his fourth program article, in which he continued to describe his views about the further development of the country. Also on Monday, Putin had a meeting with leading political scientists of the country to discuss the course of the election campaign.
"I do not want to say long monologues. It would be much more interesting if we could exchange opinions about the current situation and the prospects of the nation's development, about the economy and the social field, about the state construction, about democratic institutes and about the presidential campaign, of course," Putin said in the beginning of the meeting.
The meeting started with the discussion of the subject of election rights and the development of the party system. First and foremost, Putin said that the changes, which the sitting president had made, would definitely lead to the increase of the number of parties. However, the prime minister added, there were some hidden rocks, which he would like to avoid.
"We have a very complex country. It is not just a federative state. Our country is unique because we have national and territorial establishments. We have autonomous entities, there are ethnic nations, which are strongly connected to their territories. If we make granulate the parties, which is what we are heading to, then we must not allow any sort of national parties, otherwise we will pull the country apart," Putin said.
The same goes for the situation with direct gubernatorial elections and the elections of the members of the Federation Council. On the one hand, one should expand the framework of democratic procedures of brining regional leaders to power. On the other hand, one should be accurate here as well not to repeat the mistakes of the past, when local oligarchic and criminal structures would hide behind the backs of the candidates.
"Of course, one should not restrict the spheres of direct democracy for good because of those reasons. We should keep this detail in mind, though," Putin said.
In general, one may say that Putin is positive, although cautious, about the future of the above-mentioned reforms. Speaking about program statements from other candidacies, Putin said that all those people were experienced and reasonable individuals, whom he treated with respect.
"The good thing is that none of the current presidential candidates will betray the interests of the country. I can say that responsibly. I've known them for a long time, and I am sure of that," he said.
However, he added, his colleagues in the presidential race may very often say impossible things. "If a candidate suggests something unrealizable and then, if he is president, begins to implement them, they are not going to do anything but harm to the country," he said.
Commenting a suggestion from Gennady Zyuganov to elect judges on the level of cities and districts, Putin said that there was such practice in the USSR. "It was like that during the time of the USSR. However, all that electivity was a pure formality, just like all kinds of elections," he said.
As for the present-day situation, the law allows the election of peace justice. "Have they ever elected one in at least one entity of the Federation? No. There are representatives of the communist party, LDPR and Just Russia in those territories. Why is it so? Because it's expensive!" Putin said.
"The electivity of judges is becoming a political process. Judges must be out of politics," Putin said. "If we introduce the elections of judges, I think that we will create even more problems in the field, not to mention the fact that we will add the political aspect there," he noted.
Putin is skeptic about the total nationalization and total privatization. They both can lead to negative consequences due to objective reasons, which one should try to overcome, of course.
For instance, Sergei Mironov, a presidential candidate from Just Russia, said that he wanted to reduce prices on AI-95 petrol and diesel fuel to 15 rubles per liter. According to Putin, this can be technically possible. However, this will at least result in the shortage of the fuel. "We may not have the 95th petrol at gas stations. It will simply disappear in two or three days. They will simply stop to make this product. This is completely unprofessional, you know," he said about Mr. Mironov's initiative.
There are less serious obstacles on the way of such seemingly attractive initiatives as the nationalization of banks or promises to provide young families with homes. "This can only evoke the feelings of regrets. One would like to give everything for free to everyone. I would like to ask Mr. Zyuganov if they were able to give everything for free to all during the Soviet times. It did not happen. The problem was extremely serious, and it still seems that it is impossible to solve it today, although we try to solve it. The housing problem is one of those social problems, which we will be able to solve within the forthcoming five, six, seven, eight years - fundamentally. But it was impossible to give away everything for free back then and now," Putin said.
The same goes about the idea to give away land. According to Putin, this is pure populism. The problem is not about land per se. It is about the required infrastructure - electricity, water and heat supplies, roads, etc. "The state will be investing in the infrastructure, this is big money," Putin said.
Another popular idea - the establishment of the contractual army - is also all about the money. "The professional army is a positive thing, of course, taking into consideration the fact that military hardware has become more complicated. We need professionals for this army. We also think that we could recruit people from both military and civil institutes. Will we be able to do that by 2015? I am not sure. It goes about enormous resources. We have certain plans about it, and we will continue to work in this direction," Putin said.
As for the questions regarding the formation of the government after the elections, Putin said that he would like to attract people with different political views in the new government.
"It's important those people are professionals, although it is not going to be a coalition government in the classic perception of this word. When different parties come to the parliament, none of them has the majority, so they have to share. I do not think that this is very effective. When we have people sharing different views, then it very often happens that the decisions that they make are made on the base of compromise - they are not always effective," Putin said.
Any discussion about the rotation will make sense only after the results of the voting become known, he concluded.