Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

From: "Jeffrey Barrie" <jbarrie@bigfoot.com>
Subject: re 5575-Pro-Putin Parties/Russian Party of Pensioners
Date: Sat, 1 Dec 2001

David, a better translation for the slogan -- zashchitim sebya sami -- (than "protect yourself" -- which sounds aggressive!!) is something like "we will take care of protecting our own interests ourselves". One of the delegates today wanted added "... and help each other" (not accepted).


While what Peter Graf calls a "centrist political juggernaut" was being unveiled in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses today, a much smaller political party was quietly reestablished down the street at the Metropol Hotel. There were no Western or Russian journalists in evidence.

The Russian Party of Pensioners was originally formed in April 1998 in the Rossiya Concert Hall, held its second Party Congress in the Hall of Columns the following December, and a year later its third Party Congress in the Palace of Congresses with a packed hall of some 5,000. This was the first party congress the Russian government allowed to take place in that venue after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Then, in December 1999, Yeltsin was encouraging the activities of a dozen political parties that he expected would eat into votes for the Communist Party and help secure the election of his successor. The Party of Pensioners played its part in that strategy by garnering three percent of the vote the following spring.

Once that goal was achieved the Russian government required the myriad parties to reregister, and today the Party of Pensioners had its first Congress under a new designation as "political" rather than "social" party. The number of delegates attending was a more modest 200 this time.

This is an interesting organization that has also split off an association of retired persons called Pensioners of Russia which is rapidly spreading throughout the country, distributing the kind of discount cards that helped AARP become the strongest lobby organization in the US.

I've done a quick translation of their manifesto here. Reading it, and knowing that Russian pensions average $40 per month and wages around $100 per month, I can't help thinking that serfdom is dying a very slow death in this country.

Manifest of the Russian Party of Pensioners
"Let's Get Back Russia"

1. Russia is the richest country in the world.

According to the Department of Economics and the Institute of State Property of the Russian Academy of Sciences the real extent of Russian riches reaches 320-380 trillion US Dollars.

Our heritage is a territory equal to a seventh part of the world's land mass. The proportional share belonging to every Russian citizen is many times greater than any other citizen of any other country on the planet. And this land is fairy-tale rich. It is covered by forests, rivers and lakes; and priceless mineral deposits. The Russian black earth zone is still considered to be among the most fertile in the world.

Why then are we, Russians, still living in poverty?

Why is Russia today, victorious in the Great War, still a recipient of humanitarian aid from Germany and Japan, which has less than a tenth of our resources and which were occupied for many years after the war by international military forces?

Why is Russia, which only 100 years ago was feeding half of Europe, today importing food from abroad?

Why is oil and gas extraction and mining enriching Arabs, Alaskan Eskimos and Black Africans (in their countries) but not helping our citizens at all? Perhaps Russians are second class compared to these other peoples? (Perhaps) Stupid, uneducated, uncultured, or unwilling to work?

What happened in Russia?

2. There is only one answer to these questions.

We Russians were never the real owners of our land and riches. In Russia it has always been government bureaucrats in the name of the State who distributed to us.

It was this way under "socialism," when oil and other natural resource revenues were squandered on armaments and government programs that no one needed. And the situation is still the same. These revenues move through the bureaucrats into the "private sector" and wind up mostly abroad. The result of "privatization" was that 5% of the population got everything, and 95% was left with nothing.

The worst problem of the Russian government is not corruption, but its terrible ineffectiveness. In their efforts to earn a spare ruble for themselves, bureaucrats cost the State thousands of rubles.

In this surprising manner the colossal riches of Russian have been converted to poverty. Only in our country is it possible for such an ineffective, talentless government to exist. Only in our country is it possible for the incompetent power structure to try "experiments" every ten years at the peoples' expense. Revenues from oil and other natural resources allow such foolishness and thievery to be written off.

3. There is only one way to quickly and radically correct this situation.

The government has over and over again demonstrated that it is not capable of intelligently distributing the national wealth. Therefore the right to use these resources must be returned to their natural owners -- the people.

The Russian Party of Pensioners proposes:

To open personal bank accounts for each Russian citizen into which annual payments will be made of his personal share of revenues from natural resources taken from Russian territory.

Russia has adopted a new Land Code which allows the sale of land. Who is able to buy this land today? The 5% of the population that got rich from privatization and foreigners. 95% of the population can not afford to buy land. The Russian Party of Pensioners proposes its variant:

Russian land should be rented. Proceeds from these rentals should be paid monthly to every citizen into their personal accounts. We are against the sale of property that could provide monthly revenue to all. From such revenues every Russian citizen could become a millionaire.

5. The participation of each Russian resident in rental and natural resource revenues would restore fairness and return to the nation that which belongs to it by rights.

For the creation of any riches three factors are necessary: capital, labor and natural resources. Capital and labor are, in fact, the concrete people who must receive their fair and legal compensation based on what they invest in the creation of national wealth.

Land and natural resources do not belong to the creative hands of people. They were given to us by God. They were received as legacies by our forefathers whose efforts helped create our country and defend it from invaders. Revenue from the land and natural resources can not belong to individuals, nor to the government (which was "socialist," is now "capitalist" and will be who-knows-what tomorrow). The only legal owner is the nation in the person of each Russian citizen.

6. Returning legal revenues to the people from their land is not only fair but economically effective. It would contribute to Russia's dynamic economic growth.

It is easy to explain the crash of the so called market reforms. The market only works when there are buyers and when the buyers have money. We first destroyed the buyers, wiped out their savings, took their revenues away and now we wonder why the market reforms are failing.

A system of personal bank accounts would restore purchasing power. Incomes from rentals and natural resources wouldn't go abroad, they would be spent here and create conditions for economic growth, especially in those areas that people really need. People would be able to buy housing and the housing problems would be lessened. Russian citizens could pay for their onw vacations, medical costs, education for their children and prepare for retirement without depending on the government.

7. A system of personal bank accounts would help not only the economy but other spheres of life as well. Poverty is the worst of defects. From it stems sickness, criminality and drug addiction. It robs the elderly of their longevities and the lives of our children and grandchildren.

A poor person can not be free. Poor people are easily insulted, robbed and controlled. Because of this the bureaucrats have a direct interest in maintaining high poverty levels in Russia. We can only free ourselves if we free ourselves from the charity of the bureaucrats. A few years after a personal account system fed by rental and resource revenues poverty will disappear. We Russians, with our self respect restored, will become empowered citizens of a great country and unleash great creative forces in labor, science and culture. Russia will become, at last, really free.

8. The instruction of personal bank accounts will be the means of bringing order to the Russian government.

Our government eternally lacks resources for national education, medicine, defense, security and other important necessities. It is not possible otherwise. When people are poor the government can not be rich. And, conversely, there can not be a poor government with a wealthy population.

The Constitution gives citizens of Russia the right to income from rental of land and sale of natural resources. If this right is realized the government will also be enriched -- the income tax alone from this would exceed present tax revenues. Budget expenses would be reduced. The need for marginally effective social programs that presently feed armies of bureaucrats would disappear. The entire government apparatus could be reduced. Government resources could be redirected to where they are really needed: to the development of basic sciences and education, to culture and medicine, to defense and security of our citizens.

We, citizens of Russia -- lowly millionaires; masters of untold riches which we can not use. We are obligated to reclaim our birthrights to these riches.

We, the Russian Party of Pensioners want what for Russia what the citizens of other resource rich countries and regions of the world have: income from the natural resources of our land.

We, the Russian Party of Pensioners want what belongs to us by law: in part according to Article 9 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and Article 4 of the Law "On Underground Resources."

We, owners of our country - bureaucrats of our country -- you work for us.

We, Russian Party of Pensioners return Russia to the people. This is our legacy by law and we will do this ourselves. "Protect Yourself!"

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