Author`s name Olga Savka

Russia on the Threshold of Elections

Russian political forces want the president to make his political choice

The clans in the president's milieu and administration continue struggling. The latest report from the National Strategy Council "The New Course and the New Stability" says that the question of the natural rent is currently being discussed as a question of the practical policy. The strongest opposition can be observed between oligarchs and the state.

The mentioned report means that a part of the Russian elite and the leftist opposition is asking to lift the natural rent. These sentiments reflect the growing trouble and dissatisfaction in the society. According to opinion polls, 57.85 percent of the Russian population is concerned with the high level of poverty, 53.9 percent is very unhappy with the growth of the living costs, 36.9 percent worry about a possible default to occur. Russian people have stopped believing politicians' promises, people vote against all candidacies - this tendency is becoming more explicit. About 78 percent of Russians do not believe in the Russian democracy (this index was 74.4 percent in 1997).

The self-protection instinct makes the sensible part of the elite look for a way out of the dead end. The followers of the so-called "correction of the course from within" and the people who work for oligarchs have a different point of view about the problem. The two political groups want the president to determine his own political preferences. Politicians want to know, whose interests Putin will be representing after he becomes the elected president for the second time. The president has not reacted to such requirements yet, which is rather disturbing to oligarchs - they do not need a weak leader. The other group of statesmen think that oligarchs and their officials do not execute a half of the president's orders to strengthen the "vertical of power."

The oligarchic program to extricate from the crisis stipulates the withdrawal of all privileges for people in order "to make Russians work." Politicians want to take the natural rent away from oligarchs and to revise the property system that has been formed during Boris Yeltsin's era. They believe that the revision is necessary for a more rational distribution of the state-owned national GDP.

The international aspect is also important. Liberals still want to adjust the Russian mind to European standards. They are prepared to make concessions for the West. Liberal politicians would like the USA (the country where they transfer their income to) to guarantee security for Russia, but the competing clan does not believe American promises of the "strategic partnership between Russia and the US," especially after the military operations in Yugoslavia and Iraq.

Opinion polls say, the majority of Russians do not back up the oligarchs' program - they support the idea of revising Yeltsin's privatization results. The above-mentioned Council for the National Strategy said in its report that it had stopped being a political program for Russia's leftist and rightist forces. The forthcoming elections to the State Duma will definitely exert a certain influence on the president's further course. It seems that all parties except for the KPRF are intended to support it. Yet, the course needs to be identified before the elections, especially when it comes to the natural rent issue. Russia is in danger of losing the natural wealth, which belongs to the people, according to paragraph 9 of the Russian Constitution.

The personnel of the board of directors of the Tyumen Oil Company (known for the Russian initials as TNK) changed at the end of June of 2003: the governors of the regions, where the company runs its activities, were excluded from the board. The personnel of the board of directors of the oil giant Sidanko (TNK's branch company) changed in August of the current year too. Now the company is controlled by the British Petroleum. Yukos is currently preparing to be sold to foreigners.

Most likely, the new State Duma will be formed on the base of Putin's anti-oligarchic majority. On the other hand, oligarchs are now purchasing seats for their people in all parties. The establishment of Glazyev's Bloc became a sensation of the pre-election period: the bloc included 29 political parties and public associations. The bloc's pre-election program is aimed against oligarchs, it pays attention to the "national doctrine," although rightist and leftist "nationalists" still have certain contradictions about this issue.

Dmitry Rogozin, one of the leaders of the bloc said: "If there is a powerful group in the Duma, if Putin sees the alternative, he will choose us as his support. There is the Kremlin, there is the government and there is the president. I am working with the president and now I am working with Glazyev."

Viktor Geraschenko (former chairman of the Russian Central Bank), another leader of the bloc said: "The state must regulate the industrial development. It is necessary for the country's development, for meeting the domestic demand, it is needed for the national security. As far as German Gref's liberal course is concerned, I would like to advise him not to read books about how the West lives. It would be much better for him to work abroad instead."

Sergey Glazyev himself hopes to form the parliamentary majority with communists in the Duma of the new convocation. Glazyev believes that the ideology of his bloc and the communists' pre-election program have a lot in common.

On the photo: the State Duma


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