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Moscow News
May 14-20, 2003
Glazyev Phenomenon
Lyudmila Telen

When Sergei Glazyev finished third in the Krasnoyarsk gubernatorial election race, everyone immediately noted the "Glazyev phenomenon." They could have done so earlier. Among the prominent political figures under 50 there are virtually no CPRF sympathizers. Glazyev is probably the only exception

In Power

Sergei Glazyev was a rank and file member of the Gaidar cabinet. First a deputy foreign economic relations minister, then minister. Young, holder of a doctorate, like most on the Gaidar team.

Who invited you to join the government?

Pyotr Aven, the minister for foreign economic relations.

Had you met him before?

Yes, through academic work.

What about Gaidar, Chubais, Shokhin, and others?

Most of them I also knew through my research work. The first Russian government consisted mainly of scholars. We had met at conferences and worked together at the Academy of Sciences.

So you must have been aware that the economic views of many cabinet members differed from yours?

That's right.

Did you consider yourself a member of the Gaidar team?

The Gaidar team was a myth, except in the sense of general responsibility for what was going on in the country. The people working in the government were a mixed lot. We were in constant debate. Although of course we sought consensus-based decisions. That was why - not because there was a unity of views - the first Russian government looked united.

On what fundamental matters did you differ from Gaidar and his co-thinkers?

I was against the Gaidar price liberalization plan. I was opposed to the Chubais privatization program. The latter, it will be recalled, began with outright deception: The privatization law signed by the president introduced bearer checks, while the one approved by the Supreme Soviet provided for inscribed checks. As a result, the assets ended up in the hands of a small group of the more enterprising people while the rest lost everything in the course of privatization.

In either case you failed to prevent what you considered a mistake.

It was not always possible to get my view accepted.

But sometimes it did get accepted, didn't it?

Quite often. Say, contrary to the general line toward dismantling the system of state control over foreign economic activity, we managed to preserve quotas for the export of energy resources and raw materials out of the country. I would like to remind your readers that in 1993 machine-building export started growing at a very fast pace: Low domestic energy and raw material prices made the sector highly competitive. Had more of what was already approved by the government been implemented, the country would not have experienced the dreadful recession that set in in late 1993.

What hindered its implementation?

The October 1993 coup. Those cabinet members who had not resigned became hostage to the situation.

Your appraisal of the first RF government got more critical over time.

Shall we say, more objective. I still respect many of the people I worked with, even if I do not necessarily agree with the decisions they are responsible for.

So political appraisal is one thing but personal relationship is different?

The two are closely linked, of course. Yet, I see a fundamental difference between mistakes and crimes. Therefore, I have a different attitude toward those who made mistakes and those who consciously committed crimes.

Who do you mean?

Before October 1993, each of us, members of the first RF government, committed only mistakes. The one exception was Chubais, but even then in a single instance, when he knowingly substituted one privatization law for another. Yet after October 1993, crimes became commonplace in the government's activity. I could cite colossal abuses over the granting of exemptions, loans-for-shares schemes, and privatization as a whole. The only aim was to hold on to power. And this was achieved by appropriating huge amounts of money.

Are there any members of that cabinet you would refuse to shake hands with today?

Chubais is one.

If you bumped into him in a corridor you would cut him dead?

I would prefer to confront him in court.

Out of Power

None of the known politicians from your generation was able to effectively challenge Vladimir Putin. Why?

Because Boris Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin as his successor and the country's entire elite agreed with that.

Did Yeltsin still exert so much influence on the establishment?

That was not the point. It was a collective decision by the ruling elite.

So Yeltsin himself had nothing to do with that?

I believe that Yeltsin had his decision endorsed by the so-called Family, which in fact comprised the core of the elite. They needed a person with certain qualities, the main one being true to his word.

Does it not seem to you that the notion Family is a propaganda-customized simplification of reality?

It certainly is a simplification. As a matter of fact, it is a fairly large group of people sharing financial interests.

Who are these people?

I would not like to name names.

Are you afraid?

It's all clear without naming names. Everyone knows that many decisions on privatization of assets, granting of exemptions, and access to natural resources were made by Yeltsin under pressure from Xis daugxters anT otxer relatives. Ducisyons0worDh byllions _f dllaRs wure squeuzed Top   Next