Reforms in Russia: Realities and Prospects

By , Gennady Zyuganov
Chairman of the Central Committee,
Communist Party of the Russian Federation,
Head of the CPRF Parliamentary Fraction,
State Duma of the Russian Federation

Reforms in our country have been essential by 1980-s. Reforms are a natural process for any country as they ensure development.

The failure of the “reforms” in Russia is evident. The reason being the substitution of their original aims. Instead of the declared aim of raising the efficiency of the economy the forces that came to power in Russia in 1991, were guided primarily by the ideological goals. Instead of modernization Russia was plunged into the destruction of its economy, into mass impoverishment of its population, into unprecedented growth of crime.

2. Russia in potentially one of the richest countries in the world. We have a highly educated population, powerful science and culture. We have a rich heritage from our forefathers: Russia has a well-developed industrial and transport infrastructure, half of the fertile lands, forests and drinking water of our planet, considerable part of its mineral resources. What is necessary is the reasonable economic and social policy to transform the potential into real benefits for the population.

3. Today our country is reassessing the experience acquired during the last 10 years. It is clear that to keep moving in the direction in which we have been pushed at the beginning of the 1990-s is deadly. We are offering to the citizens of Russia the reform policy whereby it would be more profitable to work, to build and to study than to steal and to drink.

Among the priority economic measures are the following.

It essential to stop the plunder of Russia’s wealth. During Yeltsin’s “reforms” over 700 billion dollars have been transferred abroad. The outflow of capital from Russia far surpasses the volume of loans, credits and direct foreign investments coming into the country. The biggest oil monopolies are not paying taxes for years. Today 120 families in Russia privatized the largest segment of national economy.

It is essential to have a clear programme, a strong team and political will to ensure transformations in the interests of the country and not of a handful of oligarchs. The role of the state should be strengthened especially taking into the account specific climatic conditions of Russia. Control over the most profitable branches of economy (tobacco, alcohol) should be returned to the state. The efficiency of management of state owned property (which is in fact “ownerless”now) should be raised. Today the state owns 16% of the economic assets of the country – less than in most countries with universally recognized market economy.

We are suggesting that the taxes should be lowered to stimulate the production and investments. Development of small and middle businesses is one of our priorities. The stability of the “rules of the game” should be ensured for at least 5 years so that the business could operate in stable conditions.

4. The change of the Constitution. It is of vital importance to restore the balance of power in Russia, to create a reliable system of checks and balances. Today’s Russia is a super-presidential state. The president appoints everybody, fires everybody but is not accountable to anybody. We have prepared a number of amendments to the Constitution to redistribute powers between the president, parliament and government.

5. Ensuring genuine democracy. Since 1991 the election campaigns and the elections themselves in Russia are a subject of public opinion manipulations. Gross violations of law have become usual. Without changing drastically this situation it is impossible to talk of political stability in Russia.

6. Ensuring the freedom of press. The press, particularly the TV, should reflect the whole spectrum of public opinion in Russia. The journalists should be protected against the oligarchic domination. At the same time it is essential to raise the level of responsibility of the press before the society.

7. The struggle against crime and in particular against corruption. The level of corruption in Russia is one of the highest in the world. It is of vital importance that public particularly parliamentary control over the bureaucracy should be strengthened.

Russia is hit by the wave of drugs. Our country was previously practically unfamiliar with this phenomenon. But now the spread of drugs is being conscientiously encouraged to deprive the nation of the will to resist.

8. The contemporary world. The situation in the world is changing. The force, the “aircraft-carrier diplomacy” cannot ensure the world stability that faces the threats brought about by the impoverishment of the overwhelming majority of the population of the planet. The so-called “international terrorism” is a direct consequence of the “globalisation”. Therefore the stability in the world can be restored only through upholding the principles of social justice.

We are convinced of the need to strengthen the role of the UN as the main instrument of harmonization of the situation in the world, in the need to make the world truly multipolar.

9. The special role of Europe. We are convinced that Europe can play an important stabilizing role in the world. The cooperation between Russia and Western Europe in this sense is particularly important. Especially with Scandinavian countries that are our long-standing partners. If we join our efforts it could be one of the most powerful economically and influential politically regions in the world.

At the same time we are concerned by the tendency towards NATO expansion. In particular towards getting the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania into NATO. We want Europe to avoid new dividing lines that might only weaken our cooperation.

10. The CPRF is one of the most influential political forces in Russia. It is the party with the largest membership that controls one third of the seats in the Parliament. It is the only party in the country with a clear ideology, broad network of local organizations and of party press. Public opinion polls and election results indicate that the CPRF enjoys permanent support of 30 to 40% of the population.

In 42 out of 89 regions of Russia the heads of regional administrations have been elected with the support of the patriotic forces. They are working more efficiently than many of their colleagues. The situation in those regions is more stable, the investment climate is more favourable.

11. The world is entering the XXI century. It is the century of information, of computerization, of unprecedented scientific discoveries. All this enables the mankind to make a leap forward in raising the level of life of the people. We must join our efforts in the struggle against the diseases, for the protection of the environment.

We are committed to broadest cooperation. We are convinced that to move forward in conditions of confrontation is impossible. The progress is possible only through creation of a multi-polar, multi-colour world. We are convinced that the Scandinavian countries will support such an approach.

We have a good experience of meetings with the businessmen and ambassadors of Scandinavian countries. The representatives of our party regularly visit Scandinavia in the framework of parliamentary exchanges. I am convinced that this useful tradition will be preserves in the future in the interests of the cooperation between our countries and peoples.