CPRF leader promises the regime a series of protest campaigns Author: Anatoly Kostyukov [from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
COMMUNIST LEADER GENNADI ZYUGANOV SAYS THAT MORE DESTRUCTIVE AND HARMFUL LAWS HAVE BEEN PASSED OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS THAN OVER THE SEVEN PRECEDING YEARS. HE IS CRITICAL OF THE PEOPLE EMPLOYED BY THE PUTIN ADMINISTRATION. HE ALSO SPEAKS OF THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE COMMUNIST PARTY AND GENNADI SEMIGIN.
An interview with Communist Party leader Gennadi Zyuganov
While Prime Minister Mikhail Kasianov is busy trying to find out which of his deputy prime ministers is obstructing the reforms, the left- wing opposition is preparing to calling all of the Cabinet to account. A recent plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party set the date for a mass protest campaign: March 27-29. Communist leaders intend to adopt the plan for the year's first "spring offensive" tomorrow. Question: Your party's main slogan is "Putin is today's Yeltsin". Judging by Vladimir Putin's popularity rating, however, Russian citizens do not tend to associate him with his predecessor. The next presidential election will be the first time that you will run against a popular president. Do you think this is a risky undertaking? Gennadi Zyuganov: Let me remind you of the high popularity ratings Gorbachev and Yeltsin had at first, and how they crashed. Besides, the pollsters themselves cannot explain Putin's rating. When they ask respondents about Putin's achievements, they only get 18-20% approval. Indeed, what has improved over the last three years? Has crime been beaten? Has Russia's output of high-tech products increased? Have the coffins stopped coming back from Chechnya? No way. The economic growth stimulated by the default is over. There was no investment in the Russian economy before Putin, and there is no investment under Putin. Corruption is flourishing, and the nation is dying out at the rate of one million people per year. Do you call this stabilization? If it is, then it's the stabilization of Yeltsinism. Question: The Communists might have appreciated that unlike Yeltsin, Putin doesn't threaten to ban the Communist Party or remove Lenin's body from the Mausoleum. Moreover, Putin has brought back the music of the Soviet national anthem and restored the army's red flag. Gennadi Zyuganov: It isn't hard to see what these generous gestures are really worth. Anyone can talk to the people on television for an hour or two and pretend he knows everything there is to know about what proplems the people face, and has a solution to all problems. That's window-dressing, right? There must be more to a national leader than publicity stunts of this sort. Three years ago, only three Russian regions experienced heating shortages in winter; but this year, 30 regions have done so. Besides, Yeltsin never went as far as selling land. Putin doesn't feel any compunctions. The electricity system and railroads were not for sale before Putin. They are, now. There were up to 50 kinds of social benefits enjoyed by the elderly, disabled persons, women, and servicemen. Our present government rescinded them all at a stroke. American colonels in Tbilisi and NATO military bases in Central Asia appeared with Putin in the Kremlin too. If you ask me, more destructive and harmful laws have been passed over the last three years than over the seven preceding years. Question: The opposition will always find some reason to criticize the regime. You cannot argue, however, that regimes never implement programs proposed by the opposition in reality. Gennadi Zyuganov: There are certain requirements every national leader, regardless of ideology, should meet. First and foremost, a national leader is supposed to recognize the problems his country is facing, and be able to find subordinates capable of handling these problems. And what do we see nowadays? Positions of great responsibility are offered to people virtually picked up off the streets. Instead of professionals, the corridors of power are full of people from the president's home town, amateurs without the necessary knowledge or experience. Consider the Federation Council: as it used to be, and as it is now. Consider its speakers: Stroyev and Mironov. Mironov will never come close to the level of Stroyev. The president distrusts recommendations offered by the opposition. That's all right. There is, however, the State Council, a body that owes its very existence to Putin and Putin alone. Moreover, Putin chairs it. There cannot be an advisory body with more influence than the State Council, can there? This is the way it is supposed to be; but what do we really have? The State Council endorsed a program of economic development written by a team led by Khabarovsk Governor Viktor Ishayev. Where is the program now? In the wastebasket. The government never even bothered to take a look, and the president pretended that it's all right. It is very typical of the regime. It mouths resolute phrases, it adopts crisis management programs, but the nation is still sliding into an abyss. I have told Putin already: tell your strategists to restrain themselves, tell them they do not have to re-invent anything. Just take a look at how Roosevelt and Erhard got their countries out of crises, take a look at the Japanese Miracle, at what the Chinese have been doing. Analyze all this and go for it! But they would not do it! What is there to discuss with such people? There is nothing to discuss. Such people should give way to competent managers and Russian patriots, who are ready to work for the people, not for the nouveau riche. Question: A few words about patriots and the nouveau riche. You said in an article recently: "The people's patriotic movement nowadays is an agreement between classes. To be more precise, it is an agreement between labor and capital to achieve certain objectives." I can't believe that was written by a communist. Gennadi Zyuganov: Why act so surprised? Whoever knows Soviet history remembers that Lenin changed the tactics of building socialism four times within four years. We have to get Russia out of the ruins again now. To achieve that, we should strive for consolidation of all healthy forces in society. Question: An "agreement between classes" must mean participation of the Communist Party in the People's Patriotic Union. Your allies in the Union inevitably cause some sort of row on the eve of every election. Why are the Communists staying with this alliance? Gennadi Zyuganov: We value this alliance as a form of cooperation with people who are not communists, yet share our views on what needs to be done. In the long run, voters do not really care what organizations are called or who belongs to which political structure. On the other hand, when voters see Nobel Prize winner Zhores Alferov and generals Ivashov and Rodionov, they are duly impressed. As for the scandals you've mentioned, I wouldn't exaggerate them. Question: The Communists presently have a conflict with the Executive Committee of the People's Patriotic Union. This is something unprecedented, since matters have deteriorated to point of going to court. Gennadi Zyuganov: No, I cannot say I recall any past incident when political discord has resulted in a lawsuit. Let me correct you, however. We do not have a conflict with the Executive Committee of the People's Patriotic Union. Its chairman, Gennadi Semigin, was the one who initiated legal proceedings against the Sovetskaya Rossiya and Zavtra newspapers. This was his personal lawsuit. The conflict is purely personal. Semigin was instructed to establish a trust of financial support for the People's Patriotic Union. The was three years ago. The People's Patriotic Union still doesn't have a trust. I should admit that Semigin managed to provoke a split in our Leningrad branch, and we were forced to take measures. A plenary meeting of the municipal committee recently elected a new secretary, Svyatoslav Sokol. Needless to say, this behavior on the part of the chairman of the Executive Committee was and is criticized. Question: What about Sergei Glaziev, who challenged your opinion too? Has this incident affected his status as a valuable ally? Gennadi Zyuganov: Glaziev is an independent politician. He is not a party member, and therefore is not bound by its decisions. He is a competent economist working in the People's Patriotic Union and we value Glaziev in precisely this capacity. Question: Would you say Glaziev has a chance of being one of the top three names on the CPRF electoral list? Gennadi Zyuganov: I think his chances are really good. I cannot say anything else, however, because compilation of the list is a prerogative of the party congress. Question: So far as I know, the two top slots on the list are already occupied. The first one is... you know who; and the second is Alferov. The latest plenum of the Central Committee has decided to raise funds for the party campaign coffers. Is that how you deal with the liars saying that communists are on the payroll of the oligarchs? Gennadi Zyuganov: We do not want to respond to nonsense. In the first place, fund-raising is quite a legitimate action. Secondly, it is the most straightforward method of forming what you call campaign coffers. No one will give us free airtime on TV, you know, even though it is funded with the money of our voters too. That is why we are forced to borrow from the people who vote for us. (Translated by A. Ignatkin)
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