#17 - JRL 8403 - JRL Home
REMARKS BY IRINA KHAKAMADA AT THE CONFERENCE "GOVERNMENT REFORM IN RUSSIA: WHAT IS TO BE DONE?"
[NOVOTEL MOSCOW CENTER, 10:07, OCTOBER 7, 2004]
SOURCE: FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE (http://www.fednews.ru/)
Khakamada: It seems that everybody has already discussed my topic. It is written down here "The Party in Conditions of Restoration". Everybody has said everything. Should I speak instead of Yavlinsky? I also have some associations regarding oxygen and a gas mask, but it's more pessimistic. I think that if we take all oxygen out of the room, people will start acting, they will start breaking the window panes. So a coup, state or political, will galvanize civil society into action.
But a very sophisticated technology has been used in Russia: oxygen is being taken out slowly, and for the majority of people nothing bad is happening. Something is happening in a narrow circle of people who understand something or who read a political magazine designated as a magazine not for everyone. But most people don't feel anything, they are dying slowly. At first they feel badly, then they feel some discomfort, and they end up in an intensive care unit. But by that time their bodies give up. This is what is happening to our Constitution.
The question is, why is this being done? The Federation Council's latest initiative regarding the appointment of judges is an unprecedented catastrophe. But is it? Everybody knows that courts are not a place where one can find justice, a vertical of power has long been built there. And when I was not allowed to initiate a referendum in Moscow on topical questions raised by people and civil society, like why new houses are built in densely populated areas without taking into account the interests of the people who live there, or why hot water is turned off for three weeks but we have to pay for it anyway or why we are kicked out of our private property because authorities need to demolish this building but in the long run wealthy people end up living in these houses and I have to move out of the city and live there.
When I asked these questions and get a reply from the Moscow city court, where I filed an inquiry after the denial, it was absolutely not legally motivated. I can understand that because if they do so, I will correct my questions and file another inquiry. So I got a rejection just because nothing was consistent with something. But what wasn't it consistent with. It did not say.
When yesterday the Supreme Court rejected my appeal and repeated the Moscow Court's decision, I understood that our courts were a vertical of power built a long time ago. What is happening now is an attempt to legitimize their incorporation into this vertical. The same happens to the parliament. I mean what's the point of crying that it's terrible, it's a nightmare because 100,000 people want this or that? No matter how much it twist election legislation, the parliament will be controlled by and manipulated by authorities. However, unfortunately, special laws are used for this legalization, and the system of one-seat constituencies is being officially scrapped because it was a source of some oxygen and allowed independent deputies to get elected.
And the same is true of the appointment of governors. We have all seen unprecedented election campaigns in guberniyas. Sometimes very strange things happened when local oligarchs financed the opponent. Everybody points to the actor who was elected governor, absolutely unexpectedly for the Kremlin. Nonsense. Putin met with both. This is why he had a chance because the Kremlin did not back one person. But again this process is being legitimized and legalized.
The question is why. I think a serious constitutional coup is being prepared. And I disagree that presidential elections or parliamentary elections are a show. If parties are serious parties, they have to participate in elections by the laws of the genre. I decided to participate in the presidential elections because I wanted to warn everyone that there would be no other elections. It was the last attempt to consolidate so that people could hear us because there could be no other such chance. Very soon everything will be banned, and there will be no elections any more. There will be presidential elections as we know them, and there will be no parliamentary elections in 2007 as we know them. And they only need to block all this by law so that no one could file a law suit with the European Court to complain about the violation or destruction of the Constitution.
And this is restoration. What can parties do in this situation? I think the main functions of any party are a) values, b) communication and c) concrete actions. So agree with you on this.
As far as values are concerned, we have to understand that they have to be changed. In terms of communications, they need to be changed too. And the same goes for concrete actions. I don't agree that a national right wing party can solve all problems. A national right wing party is the United Russia. And the national right wing policy is President Putin. And this shows how the monetization of inkind benefits is proceeding. I mean the budget gets cut, all social expenditures are chopped off, and no one thinks about justice or transparent redistribution of social expenditures in the budget. It's up to you to survive, and if you do, we will see then what can be done. It's all there.
But there are also the new right. If the Union of Right Forces adheres to this position, you should go there in order not to get in the way of others. The social liberal project is very popular today because it combines freedom with serious social justice, but not in terms of redistribution but in terms of creating an equal playing field. But in order to create equal start-up conditions for different people, from elderly invalids to people living in different regions, the state must play a serious social role. Europe has never rejected this, and that's what differs its post-war modernization project from Pinochet and others.
This is why a question arises who are our allies? Strange as it may seem, but the classical rule of politics applies to this situation: there are no friends in politics, there are only allies who have the same interests. So today our allies are all those who have the courage to be in opposition. This is why in addition to ideology we need a broad consolidating process to create one democratic party that will incorporate Yabloko's program. They have always proclaimed freedom and democracy, and they have always had a strong social position. It must be broadened now to attract everybody, including possible candidates, by finding compromises, including the new right, if they wish, and the left, the softer left, who do not want to be in the Communist Party any more. In other words, all the opposition.
When Surkov blasts "apples" and "lemons" growing on the same tree and yells about some fifth column -- it is not incidental that authorities react so strongly to this because this is the only thing they fear, they fear that youth groups, like the youth branch of Yabloko and Limonov's party join forces with the democratic establishment. And if the new and more conservative right join them too, it will be a catastrophe because they will form a big opposition front, and it will be easier for them to create alternative communications.
Now about communications. Clearly, it is impossible to communicate with official mass media. And I think you are wrong by criticizing Ryzhkov and others because they are right: given the official system of deputies and the political establishment, they can communicate with the population only by using methods that are available to them. This is why we support them. We go to the Constitutional Court and try to shake the Supreme Court even though we understand that we will never get a positive reply. But this resistance should send a signal to people what we are fighting.
But there is also another form of communication, and you are absolutely right. It is necessary to work through local elections and create blocs. Seven percent is a serious threshold, and it is necessary to talk to people. And this should lead to concrete actions. I will tell you frankly, the things we are discussing like democracy and the values of man's freedom don't worry the population.
If it were 4 percent, we could easily ignore it. But we have to overcome at least 7 percent. And from this point of view, objectives must be changed. If we want to be a real force today, we must not set ourselves the task of winning in 2007 by all means. Instead we must set ourselves the task of correcting all mistakes, consolidating as much as possible and creating effective regional networks for communication with people, and doing concrete things with minimal funds that are available to us because separately none of us has any money left. We are well aware of that. Only those get financing who sell themselves to the Kremlin. But no one finances those who don't because they simply fear.
Therefore, we must pool our tiny resources and use new technologies for communicating with the population and protecting it in courts wherever we can and meet their needs wherever we can, that is you must correct the mistake when the party stews in its own ideology, and people in their own.
An example. And it is also more pessimistic and Mr. Satarov's. VTsIOM has asked people whether they supported the appointment of governors or not. And the majority said they opposed it. By a slight margin. And the minority, 47 percent supported the idea. Romir conducted a similar poll, and the result was the same. A pro- presidential bloc which is actually called Pro-Presidential Bloc came in second in Altai after United Russia. The main club that strikes the population and us, preventing us from bringing values to people, is totalitarian trust and totalitarian rating. This is the rating of a non-democratic state, because if there were debates and disputes, there would be opposition. Such ratings simply don't exist.
This rating is professionally intertwined with election technologies, and even if we try to be honest and win, we can't do anything. Therefore, we must correct our mistakes and be more professional. And we can oppose totalitarian rating only with united rating, when we are together, in one niche and help each other, showing maximum trust in us as a counterbalance to this totalitarian rating.
Q: What do you thing about the idea of gender quotas in the lists of political parties?
Khakamada: You know I have always been irritated by any quotas. I have always thought that any quota automatically humiliates women, because it means that they are marginal group. However life teaches us that we must look for compromises. There is a large number of very interesting women in regions who are ready to do politics very conscientiously, but they have no chance. No chance at all. Not so long ago singer Bjork, who played in Dancing in the Dark, was asked in an interview what she thought about the war in Iraq, and she said that all those who are against the war in Iraq and those who support it are in the same mainstream, and this mainstream is absolutely catastrophic because white male capitalism is collapsing and does not want to see that the world around it is more diverse.
If we remove the word "white", we will get the male aggressive political mainstream that is collapsing. There is a shortage of compromises, flexibility, wisdom and, most importantly, conscientiousness because women are very conscientious. So I would be ready to agree to a soft quota of not less than 70 percent.
But there is a law that says that there may not be more than 70 percent of people of the same gender on the party's list. It does not say that there should be 30 percent of women because that would be absolutely humiliating, but no more than 70 percent of people of the same gender. If one-seat constituencies abolished, and there will be only big proportional lists, I think this is very relevant for Russia. Perhaps we will be less aggressive.
Q: You made it quite clear that Yabloko has always had freedom and democracy, plus a social package. Doesn't this mean that these democratic parties should try to use Yabloko as the basis for creating some association?
And my second question. How are things going with founding congress of your party?
Khakamada: I will tell you frankly that perhaps I am the only one from -- what should I call us? -- the old generation of democrats who were told to get lost because their niche would be taken by other people and everything will be fine. We are ready to go but only when people say so. And I am perhaps the only one of this cohort who is ready to team up with anyone on any terms. Any terms. Because I think that one person alone won't be able to do anything. The one who forgets his ambitions for the same of Russia will be very wise. So I am ready to consolidate on any terms but everybody must be on the same basket, be it Yabloko or anyone. What is important is that it must be opposition. But I disagree to team up with SPS on any terms because I still can't understand what their attitude towards authorities is. With Yabloko, it's quite clear.
However, there are many problems and they must be solved. And then one may ask why I am creating a party if I am ready to join forces with everyone. Why am I going to hold a congress on the 30th even though the name has been stolen from me, and I will try to register the party under a new name and find 50,000 members?
I will tell you frankly that I am not financing regional branches. Everybody will come to the congress at his own expense. In other words the party is being born in terrible conditions. However, it is believed that because it is being born with so much difficulty, it will be more viable. Those who have decided to stay with me and fight to the end despite by very strict conditions, these people do not represent SPS or Yabloko, and they do not want to join either.
I think we should stop talking about SPS and Yabloko, and I agree with Shmelev on this point. It's just that there are people who are beginning to get tire of all this. This is why I am trying to draw them into my party and keep them in order to jointly carry our consolidating efforts forward. This is why the congress will take place on the 30th of October, and I invite all of you to come. And if I give you the name now, one of the 120 parties will reregister again with the Justice Ministry within two days. So it's impossible for the time being.