ABOUT A NEW RUSSIAN REVOLUTION
(contribution of Sergey Skvortsov, the First secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU at an International seminar "The New Society and the Political Parties", Mexico City, March 11, 2007)
Unfortunately, for technical reasons I've come here only by the end of a seminar and did not hear the majority of the previous contributions. Therefore I apologize in advance, if my contribution will sound any discord in relation to another ones.
Here I would like to tell about the prospects of a new Russian revolution. Such statement of a question can cause in some people a surprise as in Russia and behind its limits they constantly repeated about the rapid economic growth, political stability, national support of Mr. Putin, etc. Later I shall stop on this more in detail, but now I only tell that basically all of this is an only propaganda jabber - there is no economic growth, especially any increase of a standard of living of the population, there is no Putin's national support and all similar things. There is only seeming stability achieved due to a fragile compromise between various groupings of a ruling regime, but its end already comes.
All years of the ruling of Putin authorities tried to build a viable political system, exploiting his initial popularity. Really, against a background of old, sick and eternally drunk Yeltsin the new president looked rather attractively. Besides that in the first years of his ruling the standard of living of some groups of population, for example pensioners, really has considerably raised.
At first the authorities have tried to realize one-and-a-half-Party system like that which, if I correctly understand, existed in Mexico for years. For this purpose the pseudo-Party under the name "United Russia" was created which till now doesn't have a distinct program. The contents of its activity is reduced to an unconditional support of Mr. Putin whom, by the way, is difficult to name a consistent politician. However in conditions of deterioration of a social and economic situation it becomes more difficult to build all policy on support of Mr. Putin which in addition leaves very soon. And though on each elections a falsification in favor of "United Russia" achieve 15-20 percent, even in the Kremlin it became clear that this variant will not pass. Authorities again began to speak about the bipartisanship.
Last year the second such Party - the so-called "Fair Russia" has been created, which is declaring about its left orientation. However the perspectives of this formation is hazardous. The most important thing is that a creation of this "Party" has brought a strong turmoil in minds of the local officials who are not understanding whom they should help. In fact the bipartisanship assumes more or less fair vote counting that in Russia for a long time already is not present. If the winner each time will be appointed from the center the design becomes too complex and can give failure at any moment - as the former official, I understand it quite well.
All these years the authorities not only were engaged in party formation, but also excluded from a political field even more or less loyal opposition. Now this process is practically completed. In federal elections only registered political Parties can take part (elections in districts were cancelled), however to register a Party without straightforward instructions of Putin's administration is absolutely impossible. It is necessary not only to document a membership of 50 thousand persons, but also to confirm a presence of the Party organizations not less one hundred strong more than in the forty regions of the country. The result, I think, is obvious, especially as to create from the zero a Party with 50 thousand membership is a very uneasy thing. For example, the Russian social-democratic party still cannot be registered - it was registered in forty four regions but for some "unknown" reason it cannot receive registration in only one, the last region.
But even a registered candidate of the registered Party can be at any moment removed from the election campaign, and the reasons for such things are becoming more and more numerous. The last year deputies of parliament from the "United Russia" three times reviewed the electoral legislation in direction of its toughening. For example, it is possible to discharge of voting the candidates accused of "extremism" - nobody precisely know what is it, therefore it is possible to discharge everybody. It came to such condition that now during electoral debates candidates have no right to criticize each other…
In fact the authorities themselves kick out opposition into the streets, thus even more often resorting to ungrounded interdictions of any street demonstrations. The last example - a savage reprisal with a so-called "march of not consents" in Leningrad. In general under a kind of struggle against "extremism" the wide spectrum of police measures is actively applied, but it not too helps. Protest actions against a decrease of a standard of living, for democratization of a public life occur in the country constantly and recently get more and more resolute and mass forms. I speak it with all due responsibility since our Party not only participates in such activity, but also leads some kind of monitoring. Only the last month have taken place such, for example, unprecedented in Russia protest actions, as a strike of a police regiment in Makhachkala and blockade of president's administration of the Republic of Udmurtiya.
Such movement will only grow, because the real standard of living in the country decreases. The authorities constantly understate inflation therefore all economic situation is distorted. Actually the prices grow not for 10 percent per annum as the official statistics says but much faster (the Institute of Economy of the Russian Academy of Sciences gives 20 percent per annum, Moscow authorities - 25-30). As a result the falling of a standard living, by estimation of independent economists, constitutes 7-10 percent per annum. The situation with a general economic growth is more difficult to estimate, since the statistic service has ceased to publish natural indicators, but, by our calculations, the real sector at least does not grow, and it's possible that it falls.
After the leaving of Putin from the post of President there will be a sharp destabilization of a political situation since any possible successor cannot suit all the Kremlin groupings. Such destabilization will also happen in the event when Putin will want to remain. Now, according to more or less independent sociological services, his rating constitutes about 30 percent (actually it is 20-25 percent) but if Putin will try to illegally prolong his powers, the number of his active opponents will sharply increase. A variant about which some journalists write - that Putin will play a role of "grey cardinal" - absolutely contradicts the Russian traditions and is practically unreal.
Thus, in the near future the regime will lose internal stability, and it already doesn't have a national support. There are also other factors which should be considered - for example, an external support. By reaction of the West to Putin's actions, the regime obviously will not receive that unconditional support which, for example, had Mr. Yeltsin after the shooting of parliament. Perhaps they will not specially sink it but will simply shut eyes to hostile actions of any Russian oligarchs, whose capitals are in the West.
And hostile actions from some part of oligarchs are quite probable. In any case, those appeals to rallying Russian "elite" which are heard from a presidential administration, hardly will reach the addressee. For seven years the Putin's clan tried to push competitors aside, and now even such gestures as a reduction of a limitation period for privatization transactions or assurances that YUKOS "case" will not be repeated, hardly can change anything.
And last but not least - about the position of armed forces. In forces (and at the time of any revolutionary shocks a regime can be rescue by armed forces only; "law-enforcement" bodies - too, by the way, unreliable - here could not help) the Putin's rating is practically equal to zero. It is connected with his policy on surrender to the West of the Russian national interests and with a pity social status of military men. It is already impossible to overcome such moods. Undoubtedly an example of colleagues from the CIS which actually did not attempt any resistance to "trouble-makers" should also play its role.
Thus, in the event of serious social shocks the present regime is practically doomed. In effect there is nobody to defend it. Only a radical change of policy could save the present authority, but it already pertains to area of a fantasy.
But in the case of a continuation of the present course some serious shocks are probably inevitable. The ugly political system which built by a regime kicks out into the street even a bourgeois opposition, not leaving to not consents any other opportunities to influence the ruling circles. The country stands on a threshold of a new bourgeois-democratic revolution about which inevitability speaks even Mr. Solzhenitsyn, comparing a present situation with that which was in Russia in 1916.
The parliamentary elections of 2007 may be a critical point for the Kremlin, however serious mass actions can begin a little earlier or a little later. As the Kirghiz events have shown, the power can fall even in the absence of any solid and influential opposition - exclusively under a pressure of the street. It is absolutely impossible to tell in advance, which occasion will cause a similar explosion. It is remembered that an occasion for miner's strikes of 1989 was that miners then did not have a soap to wash themselves. Really, in conditions of a social tension a concrete occasion for such actions can be the most insignificant.
Thus, the collapse of authority can approach fairly quickly - probably, even until that the opposition will have time to be structured somehow. Quite possibly also that events will develop in some stages as it was in 1917.
Finally some words about our possible interaction with bourgeois oppositionists who after the Ukrainian events are named "orange". In principle on some questions are quite possible joint or, at the worst, as the politicians speak, "parallel" actions - for example, concerning the protection of democracy. At the same time the protest actions have basically a social orientation, it is a protest against the liberal economic policy pursued by regime - which the Rights, i.e. the same "oranges", also defend. What can they offer in this plan to our people - that it is necessary "to accelerate reforms" which ruin it? It is no wonder that the left forces now have in protest movement a significant advantage - as a matter of fact, completely dominate over it. And whether it will be possible to keep this advantage, whether there will be a red and not orange revolution in Russia, finally depends on left forces themselves.