“Not all the candidates for the presidency have a clear programme of action in case of their victory, and, probably, not everyone will have it. But this is not the case of Grigory Alekseyevich Yavlinsky,” that is how Vladimir Solovyov, anchor and front man of the Kremlin propaganda, presented Yavlinsky to the viewers. For the first time in a long time, the leader of Yabloko had an opportunity to address Russians from one of the major federal television channels. Despite the specific format of the programme, Yavlinsky managed to inform the audience about the key issues of his presidential programme and told about his vision of the future of Russia.
Here comes a concise transcript of the programme.
Vladimir Soloviyov: Candidates in the presidential race have been determined. Not all of them have a clear programme of action in case of victory. Perhaps not all will have such a programme at all. But this is not the case of Grigory Alekseyevich Yavlinsky. He knows what he will do in the first 100 days of the presidency, he is ready to voice the seven axioms of the ideology of the new course. But certainly we will talk not only about this. Grigory Alekseyevich, you and I have known each other for many years. And I have great respect to you. I believe that people like you should always be in politics. And it always upsets me that you have been recently appearing exclusively during presidential elections. It is difficult to find you throughout the whole cycle, difficult to meet, difficult to persuade to come to our broadcasting. Is it a conscious stance, or is it fatigue, is it a disappointment? Why is this happening?
Grigory Yavlinsky: The matter is like this. If you are asking about recent years, for the past five years I have been a member of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, I worked there all the time and considered it my most important task. In addition, I teach at the Higher School of Economics.
The problem is that I can not always dive and find amphoras, fly with Siberian Cranes, drive fighter jets, or catch a giant fish. I treat politics differently. And my situation is different. I take a meaningful policy. I am interested in the changes that are taking place in the country.
As for the invitation to the broadcasts [of your programme], it is just a matter of formats. It would be very interesting for me to share my views with my voters, to whom I am very grateful and who are very numerous. Because even in the last elections, very unsuccessful for me, more than 1 million people have officially voted for me. [It would be interesting for me to] share my thoughts [with them] on what to do and how to do it.
But I have the opportunity to travel around the country. For example, my ten fingers are not enough to count how many cities I have visited only recently. And since you touched on the issue of the programme, I will tell you that the programme is such a phenomenon or such an action, or such a document, if you like, which is derived from what I see, how I talk with people and how they live. This is not something that was once, when you could sit in the mid or late 1980s and think: “And how can we correctly make the transition from a planned economy to a market economy?”. Because there was no one to ask and there was nobody to talk about on this subject then. By the way, it never took place in a human way, but was held very badly, in a different way.
But now this is another thing. Now you just come to Novgorod, or to Pskov, or to Saratov, or to Samara, or to Rostov, and talk to people. And you immediately understand what the programme should be. And it is very different from the key topics that are most often discussed during broadcasting [of different political shows].
Vladimir Soloviyov: But at the same time, why [do you get] all the time this fateful 1% [of the vote]? Why don’t you, even in your mind, believe in a giant success, do not infect your optimism? There is no such thing as saying: “We will win, I will tell [it] to people now, I will do it!”. From you, unfortunately, we feel somehow predeterminancy, some fatalism.
Grigory Yavlinsky: You see, first, it does not correspond to the fact. It does not correspond to facts, because if there were any fatalism, I would not participate in these so-called elections and in everything that will be happening. Moreover, I know for sure and I am certain that participation in this procedure has a great meaning and will be of great importance for the future of our country. We will talk about this further. I know that for sure.
But you yourself took such a risky course by asking me such a question. I will have to answer it. I can just tell you that we live in a rigid authoritarian system where the incumbent president controls all the politically important mass media, all the financial flows in the country, all without exception, and the entire judicial system. In such circumstances, it is impossible to be a parliamentary opposition or an opposition that has meaningful proposals and can participate in the political process in the form of political competition. This must be understood. And I must say bluntly that all the leading TV channels and all important TV programmes, including yours (and yours is a significant TV programme), they are all in this format and within this framework [of just a show]…
We live not only in the authoritarian system, but also in the system (since our broadcast will be at 00:50 a.m. MSK) of postmodern. That is, the format is organised in such a way that you can invite anyone into this format. Polyphony, screaming, yelling, reversing of the plot. All this does not allow us to systematically, clearly and fully present a point of view which is alternative to the dominant one. And you know this very well…
Nevertheless, I would like to speak seriously to you. Everyone should realise that the future of our country is connected with changing this system. This system will not allow Russia to become a modern country. Because this system is non-alternative. It lacks political competition. It lacks a fair judicial system. And, moreover, it is a system which lacks equality of everyone before law. It lacks all this…
Vladimir Solovyov: Then why only 1% votes for you? Maybe, the way you see the modern reality does not coincide with the point of view of the majority of Russians?
Grigory Yavlinsky: I will answer you. Not 1% votes for me, but they ascribe me 1%.
Vladimir Solovyov: Do they steal [your votes]?
Grigory Yavlinsky: They do steal.
Vladimir Solovyov: [Do they steal] a lot?
Grigory Yavlinsky: I do not know how many exactly, but they steal for sure. They do steal. It is hard to tell the exact figure. But they steal. But that’s not the point. This 1% which was not stolen means a million votes. A million is a lot. A million people know how to tell the truth from a lie. Do you understand? This is worth lot. Vladimir, it stands high.
Vladimir Solovyov: This stands high.
Grigory Yavlinsky: It is very difficult to break through to this. And it is very difficult to achieve this, you know.
Vladimir Solovyov: Do you consider 99 million people to be stupid who can not tell the truth from lies, so they do not vote for you? That is, there are 1 million who have a crystal in their foreheads, and they see the truth, and 99 million are drugged?
Grigory Yavlinsky: No, the matter is different. I respect and love all 110 and even 145 million people. I am simply saying that because of that system, including television and propaganda, which is currently being implemented by all the leading television channels, 1 million people, nevertheless, are able to tell the truth from lies, and it becomes very difficult for other people [to tell a lie from the truth]…
…And now about our country. Thank you, that you said good words about my programme. So, the first thing that needs to be done is, certainly, raising the main issue so that a working economic system is created in Russia. Today, our country is infinitely lagging behind in terms of the economy. The share of our country in the world economy is much less than 2%. And this is a very serious problem. So, to change this situation, the first and the key task is to fight poverty. When I was telling you what cities I visited, I wanted to speak about this. It is even difficult for me to explain what it is, when 42% of people say, in the Saratov region in our country in the middle of the 21st century, do not have hot water, 28% do not have toilets. Do you understand? [There is] no sewage.
Vladimir Solovyov: This is a disgrace.
Grigory Yavlinsky: This is not just a disgrace. It would be disgraceful if it happened just recently. No. This has been going on for all the years of the Soviet period. In this sense, nothing has changed.
Vladimir Solovyov: But is there any positive trend there?
Grigory Yavlinsky: I do not see anything positive. There is nothing positive… The situation in Tomsk is the same… There 8% of homes of Tomsk residents are heated by gas, 15% by gas from gas balloons, that often explode. The rest (count yourself how much it is) heat their homes with coal and wood. The city has the largest university in Siberia. The city which has a nuclear centre is located nearby. That’s the situation there. And not far away from the city Gazprom is building a pipe line “The Power of Siberia”. But China does not pay [them] anything. For some reason, Gazprom is dragging [its gas] to China, which has already made an agreement with the Americans and takes gas from Alaska. But [Gasprom] has been making the pipe line, because they have to milk the budget. 600 billion dollars was earned by Gazprom over the past 10-11 years. It was necessary to spend at least 15% of the earnings to gasify our country. But half of our population lives without gas. And this you call (or someone calls, not you) a great gas super-power, or a great energy super-power? This is a shame…
Vladimir Solovyov: As you know, Gazprom is spending money on football clubs and some radio stations for some reason. But if they abolish all this, I agree, it would be better.
Grigory Yavlinsky: You see! And you asked me what to do?! …
… I can tell you, that if in 20 years they failed to correct and amend this, and these things are obvious, then this government needs to be changed, starting from the president, then the government…
Vladimir Solovyov: Everyone [all other candidates] is saying “we need to change the power”.
Grigory Yavlinsky: To change Putin. I am telling you [that we have] to change Putin.
Vladimir Solovyov: They say “change the power.”
Grigory Yavlinsky: And I say that Putin needs to be replaced. Because the government is Putin, and nobody else. In general, no one else.
Vladimir Solovyov: But do the people have the right to decide?
Grigory Yavlinsky: The people still do not have such an opportunity.
Vladimir Solovyov: Oh, really?
Grigory Yavlinsky: But we will try to present this opportunity to the people at these elections. We will soon see what will come of it.
Vladimir Solovyov: But what about fighting poverty?
Grigory Yavlinsky: But what we have to do now? We must do the following… First. In the most depressed and poor regions (like those I have mentioned), it is necessary to start opening personal accounts, starting with those for people who are pensioners and people with disabilities, and means from the sale of the natural resources of our country should be directly transferred there, in order to accumulate funds there.
Vladimir Solovyov: In what amount?
- Yavlinsky: This is the question of consistency, the question of principle, it is a matter of the most important economic principle… This means creating a basic income.
Vladimir Solovyov: This is a popular topic now in the world.
Grigory Yavlinsky: It is not just popular. This is the most important issue of expanding domestic demand. And the importance of this topic is the following. If you have an non-transparent, corrupt and inefficient state, then, please, transfer all what relates to people, directly to the accounts, so that they themselves would dispose of it. This is a very important condition…
Vladimir Solovyov: The question is how much should be transffered? You did the calculation, did not you?…
Grigory Yavlinsky: This figure for those regions, which I am talking about, will be approximately in the amount of the average salary of this region. That is about 20 000 roubles…
[This amount should be transferred to them] every month. For pensioners and for people with disabilities…
Ultimately, this basic income, in my opinion, should be extended to most of the population of our country…
Vladimir Solovyov: All right. And if it is not a pensioner and not a disabled person, but a single mother, can she have money too?
Grigory Yavlinsky: I told you. There are different categories (and a single mother, families, families with many children) – this will be the next measure that I am talking to you about.
That is, it is necessary to free all citizens who have less income than the subsistence minimum per family member from income tax. And a mother with her children belongs to this [category].
Now we pass to the third question. The third question is extremely important. This is about changing the structure of budget spending, and changing the present policies in general. To date, the budget expenditure for education is 3%, the budget expenditure for healthcare is also about 3%. This needs to be doubled. “Due to what?”, you may ask me.
Vladimir. Solovyov: I can guess at the expense of what… You usually speak about the military industry and the law enforcement here.
Grigory Yavlinsky: Then we pass to the next question. Pensioners and the entire pension system. This is the next, the fourth, question…
State corporations refuse to pay dividends to the state. And you need to make them pay 50% of the profits regularly and make them the shareholders of pension funds, and close the problem with the pension system, and forget about the topic of raising the retirement age, just forget it. [We should] force state corporations to finance the Pension Fund by half of their profits. This is all calculated. This is easily proved…
Now about the budget sector workers. … If you do not spend 38% on the law enforcement, and reduce it to at least 28% (I mean the defense costs, the police and all this), and this can be done easily, because there are non-transparent costs, there are extremely inefficient… Then then we will have an absolutely normal opportunity to continue to maintain the level of payments to state employees that we have today, without the slightest damage.
Vladimir Solovyov: But it must be improved.
Grigory Yavlinsky: And now how to raise it. It is necessary to raise it at by means economic growth, and it is necessary to ensure the growth of economy by stopping taking all the taxes out of all regions, and then redistributing them in the most irrational way. Because people lose the incentive to work. Regions lose the incentive to work. It is simply an axiom. This is done to ensure that most of the budget is completely non-transparent, so that everything is lost and vanish there in the way and disappear somewhere.
Vladimir Solovyov: Where do you get your figures from?
Grigory Yavlinsky: These figures are taken from each region.
Vladimir Solovyov: I am not talking about this. It’s just that I have different data on the costs, as you call it, “the defence” and other. As well as the expenditure on healthcare.
Grigory Yavlinsky: Just a second. 38% is the budget of 2017-2018, this is the official data, which includes all these costs. Plus 20% inside the budget – these are classified data, which from my point of view, is completely …
Vladimir Solovyov: Our data is not 38%, but 17%.
Grigory Yavlinsky: I do not know what data you have. This is the official statistics of the Russian Federation. However, I must tell you that after Rosstat [the Russian statistical agency] was liquidated and transferred to the Ministry of Economy, I would not be surprised if tomorrow any other data emerge…
Vladimir Solovyov: … For me, [more money] should be allotted to the defence industry. A vivid example is America. They for some reason do not bother, and all has been growing there. And we always say “let’s cut the defence expenditure” every time, but in the 1990s something did not work out. You had nothing to do with this. You had a different programme in the 1990s.
Grigory Yavlinsky: I had a different programme. That’s what I want to tell you, I have a request to you. Do not compare our country to America, okay?
Vladimir Solovyov: Why?
Grigory Yavlinsky: I can explain. In order to behave like a superpower, you have to become a superpower, and then you will try to compare [your data] with it. And in order to become a superpower, you need to have a modern, fast-growing economy.
Vladimir Solovyov: Grigory Alekseyevich, proceeding from your logic, the Soviet Union would have never become a superpower, but a small, unhappy, agrarian, talentless, uneducated world province. But nevertheless, it became a great industrial power.
Grigory Yavlinsky: Yes, it became one. Only he collapsed in the end. And it collapsed in the end precisely because of such reasoning that you are bringing now…
I believe that the Soviet Union became a great country due to the blood, sweat, and talent of people. A talent without blood and sweat does not happen… If you think that you can do something just crossing your legs (launch the first satellite or win a great war with the fascists, or make one of the strongest armies in the world), it is impossible. This is done by blood and nerves, and then, perseverance and talent of people.
Vladimir Solovyov: Undoubtedly.
Grigory Yavlinsky: And it turns out, that the system is working against them. Should I give you many examples?…
Russian people are very talented if you do not know this. … Very talented. The problem is in the system. The system always deprives them of property as a result, deprives them of prospects and deprives them of interest in their work. It is this system that needs to be changed.
Vladimir Solovyov: Then explain to me why each time a people that is beautiful, talented and intelligent, reproduces this particular system?
Grigory Yavlinsky: Because it needs an elite that will lead it to another level, another system and another direction. And it will not have less than 2% of world GDP. This is a systemic betrayal [of the nation] by the elite. But it is connected with the tragedy that our people experienced, with the tragedy [of revolution] that happened in 1917.
Vladimir Solovyev: You mean that the tragedy happened in 1917? Not in 1991?
Grigory Yavlinsky: I say, that in 1917 there was a terrible tragedy. And the version of this horror happened even in the 1990s, though. That is why I left the government then. And you know this very well…
It was a tragic time. This was the second time that Russia lost a colossal chance. I know. And I struggled against it. And today we have this heritage. And we must overcome it. To this end, I participate in these elections, so that Russia will become a beautiful country. And it will be like that.
Vladimir Solovyev: If you say so, I am sure that it will not be 1%, but much more…