MOSCOW, October 31 (RIA Novosti)
MINISTRY THROWS A MONKEY WRENCH
Mikhail Kasyanov, Vladimir Ryzhkov and Sergei Glazyev, all aspiring to lead opposition parties, are not in a position to do so. The Justice Ministry says there are some technicalities standing in the way, but knowledgeable people disagree.
The Republican Party, which last summer opened its ranks to all Democrats, is having difficulty getting its new regulations registered. So far independent deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov remains its informal head. The party's co-chairman Vladimir Lysenko says attempts to get the Federal Registration Service to okay the changes fail time and again: it simply returns the documents quoting some omissions. Ryzhkov says "only the ruling party has no problems with the Ministry."
Since May the Democratic Party of Russia has been vainly trying to get approval for changes in its top leadership. Alexander Polovinkin, former assistant to ex-premier Mikhail Kasyanov, was to have become a new party chairman in place of Novgorod governor Mikhail Prusak. A source close to the party says there was an agreement to "hand the party over" to Kasyanov.
Even in court the party was unable to challenge the refusal. The Tagansky court threw out the appeal, saying it was not within its territorial scope, says Vyacheslav Smirnov, political council member of the party.
Rodina (Homeland) faction leader Sergei Glazyev claims that the Ministry interferes with legal proceedings and makes the judges look up to the presidential administration. "The current political reform is aiming to clear the political field of all anti-Kremlin opposition leaders by 2007. They are not allowed to set up parties and the ones that are invited to, are being closed down," explains the former presidential candidate.
It is too soon to open your eyes, believes Boris Makarenko, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies. The rules that have come up for revision concern " back-burner" parties, and in the perspective of forthcoming radical re-registration of the parties they may seem puny. But it is an unpleasant symptom, agrees the analyst.
RUSSIAN COMMUNIST PARTY ADVOCATES BLOODLESS RED REVOLUTION
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) held its eleventh congress outside Moscow over the weekend. Congress delegates decided that KPRF must lead a "national-liberation struggle" and assume power as a result of a bloodless "Red revolution." With this in mind, the Party must "overcome lack of resolve" and "work with the masses much more actively." However it appears that the Communist leaders are mostly trying to prove that the Kremlin needs them on the eve of federal elections.
"Our Party must launch a social offensive," KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov said. The Communists plan to organize and lead all protests reminiscent of a campaign spearheaded against benefits of monetization in early 2005. KPRF would thus manage to receive 25% of all votes during the 2007 State Duma elections and to "attract another 12-15%."
Other street protesters now supporting KPRF doubt its ability to become a "vanguard." "Street protests merely exert pressure on the authorities. Anyone calling this a revolution and hoping to take over with the help of such protests has no idea of the present-day national situation," Sergei Mitrokhin, deputy leader of the liberal Yabloko party, noted.
On the contrary, Rodina leader Dmitry Rogozin is sure that KPRF can implement a "Red revolution," if "it renews its leadership completely." But Rogozin's interaction with KPRF has convinced him that the latter wants to be a party representing the interests of senior citizens.
Experts have a similar opinion of KPRF's revolutionary prospects. "Color revolutions attract young people and the middle class because they are interested in outstanding and dynamic organizations. History proves that the Communists have never managed to implement bloodless 'Red' revolutions," Boris Makarenko, deputy general director of the Center for Political Technologies, stressed.
"A bloodless democratic revolution seems possible. However, KPRF prefers to issue orders and instructions and does not like to work with the masses," professor Sergei Chernyakhovsky at the International Independent Ecology and Political Science University believes.
CHINA, JAPAN WRANGLING OVER RUSSIAN OIL
A projected oil pipeline is to link Eastern Siberia with the Pacific coast. However, its construction may be delayed because of a struggle between China and Japan concerning the pipeline's route. In a bid to receive Russian oil without interruption, Beijing wants it to work its way first toward their borders, rather than the Pacific coast. And Tokyo aims to prevent this because it does not want China to grow stronger.
A feasibility study is now being reviewed by state experts. Once approved, this study would make it possible to discuss construction of a branch of the pipeline linking Eastern Siberia with China. There are plans to build the entire oil pipeline with an annual capacity of 80 million tons stage by stage. Firstly, a section of the pipeline will link Taishet in the Irkutsk region with Skovorodino in the Amur region by late 2008. Later, it will link Skovorodino with the Pacific coast.
The Government of Russia initially paid more attention to the Chinese route. Its position was largely influenced by Beijing's statements to the effect that China would buy most of the oil being pumped along this route and subsidize part of the construction effort. At the same time, Japan that consumes much less fuel and energy than China refused to finance Russia.
It seems that Tokyo has found some arguments in order to prove its point of view because the pipeline will eventually reach the Pacific Ocean. The Russian Government made this decision on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's Japanese visit. However, Russia still wants to expand its energy dialogue with China. "We will inevitably supply huge amounts of oil to China, no matter what," Alexander Karpushin, head of Rosneft's European representative office, said. "The Industry and Energy Ministry is contemplating the creation of a joint Siberian and Far Eastern gas production-and-transportation system that would export gas to Chinese and other regional markets," Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov noted.
RUSSIA IN FOR THREE ECONOMIC CRISES, EXPERT WARNS
Unless the Russian government copes with the problems accruing in the economy, the country will be hit by three successive economic crises, in 2008, 2012 and 2017. The pessimistic forecast was released late last week by the Center of Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasts. However, other research organizations believe that in 20 years Russia will reach a prosperity level comparable to that of the world's leading countries.
The most gloomy scenario about Russia's development in the forthcoming decades was presented last Friday at the Moscow conference "Russia in a Quarter of a Century: Strategy of Development" by the Center's Director-General Andrei Belousov, who consults the Russian government. In his opinion, "Russia will encounter a number of local crises within the next ten years." New risks and threats will appear as local crises gradually escalate into a new system's crisis similar to the one Russia experienced in the 1990s, he said. "This may lead to growing chaos, loss of control and, eventually, the country's breakup," he predicted.
Mr. Belousov considered four basic scenarios. According to the best possible scenario, Russia will integrate in the international community by 2020 and modernize its manufacturing sector, which will make it a fairly stable country. The population's well-being (calculated as per capita GDP at par with purchasing power) will come close to that of today's France and Germany, $30,000. GDP growth rates will not exceed 6% annually.
Under the worst-case scenario, Russia will live by exporting oil and gas and rigidly protecting its domestic market from imports. Economic growth rates will fall to 2%, the population will reduce to 130-131 million people. Society will be further stratified, and per capita GDP will be around $20,000.
Other analysts are much more upbeat about the future. Alexander Dynkin, Deputy Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, says that in 2011-2020 global economic growth rates will increase from 2.9% to 4.2%, while Russia will rise from 10th to 6th position in the world in terms of economic development.
MOST RUSSIANS MISTRUST BUSINESS AND AUTHORITIES
Most of the 1,500 respondents polled by ROMIR Monitoring in 100 settlements of Russia mistrust all institutions of state power (52%) and do not believe in honest business (59%).
Only 10% said the Supreme Court was honest, 6% believe in the honesty of the Office of the Prosecutor General, 5% trust the government and 3% and 2% the Federation Council and the State Duma, respectively. But more than 30% trust the president.
The respondents said Russia's main problem was poverty, said ROMIR's head Andrei Milekhin. When people see how officials live, what they wear and drive, when they hear that Moscow leads the world in the number of billionaires, they wonder where the money for this came from.
Only a fifth of the respondents think that business can be both transparent and profitable in Russia, which entails paying all taxes without bribing officials.
"How can Russians, most of whom were born in the Soviet Union, trust business?" asks Milekhin. "Yet when we ask them what they want for their children, most of them say they want them to become businessmen. This means that they are beginning to realize that not everything is bad about business."
The scientist is against dramatizing the data about the people's mistrust for business and authorities, saying that the country is thus far in a transition period: "Everything is changing, while most people grew up in another age with different values."
Milekhin puts his trust in the new generation, which was brought up under capitalism and will become adults in the next few years. However, he admits that there is a fundamental problem, to which the authorities are not paying proper attention.