Andrey Kazantsev: “There is discussion between the authorities and the population; the authorities react to new social demands”
The next, fourth, program article “Democracy and quality of the state” by the candidate to presidency of Russia, Premier Vladimir Putin, drew the attention of experts. Here Putin formulated new proposals on a liberalization of the political system of the country, including providing citizens with the right of direct initiatives for obligatory discussion in the parliament. It is interesting that publication of the article coincided with two major meetings in Moscow, which gathered about 200 thousand people in general. The expert of the Center of Euro-Atlantic Security under MSUFA, Andrei Kazantsev, commented on main items of the article and demonstration activity of the population.
- What is your appraisal of the meetings held in Moscow?
- I think times have changed. We entered the 2010s, and they will differ from the 2000s by the political direction and internal processes.
In the 1990s people got tired of political activeness. Within the imperfect transitional system people saw that their political activeness led nowhere. That is why in the 2000s the majority of the Russian population refused from political activeness at all. Now we see people become active again. Moreover, it is based on a new ground – self-organization through Internet without any party system, but within the civil society. It means we will live in different Russia. This new period coincided with reshuffle of Medvedev and Putin by accident. It appeared people and the country have changed, which is positive.
- Does the predominance of the Hill of Respectful Salutation over Bolotnaya Square mean that Putin will win in the first round?
- In general it is real, for instance, with a slight domination – little bit more than 50% of votes – similar to Putin’s first presidential elections. The systemic parties proposed prominent people. All candidates – Mironov from A Just Russia, Zyuganov from the Communist Party of Russia and Zhirinovsky from LDPR – are very famous people in the political establishment. At the same time, people got tired of them, as they are candidates of the past. They have high negative rating. Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are people of the political elite of the 1990s. I think these candidates are not strong. Considering all aspects, Putin can win in the first round.
- The new article by Putin touches on two main themes – social initiatives, i.e. 100,000 signatures, which are to be considered in the parliaments, and full transparency of bureaucracy. Could it be implemented? Is it relevant? Will people propose any initiatives at all?
- I think the form of social initiatives is not the main point. The point is that power admitted that fight against corruption is impossible without development of self-management of citizens, without participation of citizens in state activities. It is significant, as it means we will have no Putin “1.0.” but Putin “2.0.” During two first presidential terms of Putin vertical power structure was improved, and reforms were conducted within this vertical power structure. Now we have a different situation – it is necessary to develop independence of citizens, develop dialogue between the state and citizens. This is a path to an effective reformation of the state and economy. It means there is a dialogue between power and population; power reacts at social demands.
- Do you think this reaction was prepared ahead or it was an emergency reaction at the spontaneous wave of demonstrations?
- As for a series of reforms – governors’ elections and other reforms of the political system – they have been discussed for a long time. However, social moods influenced direction of the power activity. Some foreign experts said that it is wrong to think the Russian authorities do not listen to population. I have the same point of view. Putin tries to follow popular trends within his mainstream policy.
In reality, when the Kremlin was building a powerful vertical structure and oligarchs were subjected to persecution, it was the reaction at people desires. Liberals might disagree with this course, but it was really popular.
The fact that power is listening to changed views of the population is positive. Measures on liberalization have been developing during the whole Medvedev’s term, which is connected with a permanent internal struggle between supporters of liberalization and supporters of the vertical power structure.
Interview by Andrei Petrov. Exclusively to VK