On 16 November, Yabloko presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky came to Tomsk to present a section of his presidential programme devoted to the new budget policy. Speaking at a press conference for the local media, Yavlinsky formulated the criterion for his successful performance in the presidential campaign: if it is not possible to achieve a succession of power, then a change in the state’s policy — economic, external and internal — can be considered a victory, that would take place if millions of Russian citizens vote for the alternative to the present policies.
«If the programme for the change of the policy gets enough votes, then the policy will begin to change,» Grigory Yavlinsky explained in an interview with the popular Tomsk online media TV2. «If there are votes for ending the war with Ukraine, for resolving the problem of Crimea, ending [Russia’s] participation in the civil war in Syria, for lifting of the sanctions, normalisation of relations with the world, taking steps to create a system of justice, steps to reform the economy, then change of the policies will become possible.»
Votes of five million Russian citizens will suffice and ensure for that. «And if twenty million vote, then the person who proposes these changes will become Prime Minister,» the leader of Yabloko said. Yavlinsky did not rule out that he could accept the offer to become the head of the government if he could implement his programme at that post.
According to Grigory Yavlinsky, Russia has «tough times ahead». This is connected with low oil prices, exhaustion of the country’s economic mechanism, and sanctions that will really affect the economic situation in Russia.
Yavlinsky said that a change of the policy, in particular, the budget policy, would be required so that to amend such situation. According to Yavlinsky, such a weak economy as Russia’s should not spend almost 39 per cent of the budget on weapons, the army and the state apparatus, while only 7 per cent are spent on healthcare and education.
Yavlinsky’s presidential programme proposes to cut the expenditures on the law enforcement and the state machinery by 10 per cent, and increase expenditures on healthcare and education by 7 per cent.
The second point of the new budget policy is a change of the existing «vicious» system of distribution of tax revenues between the federal centre, regions and municipalities. That is also why Tomsk was chosen for the presentation of the programme — the city and the region suffer greatly because two-thirds (66.3 per cent) of the revenues goes to Moscow, the region has only 27.9 per cent of taxes left, and the municipalities — only 5.8 per cent.
«This leads to the fact that only 8 per cent of households in the city have natural gas, despite the fact that it is extracted nearby, and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline which should supply gas to China goes close to the city. Another 15 per cent of the population receives liquefied gas, the rest have their houses heated with wood and coal. And this is in the gas superpower! » Grigory Yavlinsky noted with indignation.
Yabloko presidential candidate proposes to distribute the tax revenues between the federal centre, the region and the municipalities in equal proportion: 33.33 per cent for each.
Yavlinsky also cited other figures, indicating that budget policy should be changed. Thus, the budget deficit of the Tomsk region is 2.5 billion roubles, while the state debt is almost 25 billion roubles. At the same time, a significant part of state obligations in the social sphere is transferred to the level of the regions. Without the necessary funding, the number of doctors in the Tomsk region fell by 13 per cent in five years, the number of hospitals dropped by 11 per cent, and out patients hospitals by 5 per cent. The number of schools fell by almost 6 per cent. «A quarter of all schoolchildren in the Tomsk region study on the second shift! There is no such indicator anywhere in the country,» Grigory Yavlinsky noted.
At the same time, the state spends a lot of money on such projects as the fountain in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya (60 billion rubles) or the stadium Zenith Arena in St. Petersburg (43 billion), whereas something is constantly malfunctioning in the latter.
Tomsk is a university centre with 900 students per 10,000 inhabitants (in Russia the respective indicator is 500 students per 10,000 of population). Therefore, the visit of Grigory Yavlinsky began with a meeting with first-year students of the Tomsk Business Institute, the only private university in the city. The politician did not lecture the students, but instead offered them a dialogue.
Future designers, economists, managers and psychologists were most interested in how to provide young families with affordable housing, how to defeat corruption and do business without risking losing everything.
Grigory Yavlinsky believes that students who start families should receive free social housing, which they can later purchase from the state. Corruption can not be defeated if the government in Russia does not change for the next 25 years and there are no independent media and an independent judiciary, Yavlinsky noted. The politician stressed that another important aspect of this problem should be the revision of fabricated criminal cases against entrepreneurs and the revocation of sentences passed by judges for bribes. Protection of entrepreneurship and levy of taxes for five years for many types of small businesses are regarded by Yavlinsky as his priority tasks on the post of Russian President. He also added that 80 per cent of the population are involved in small businesses in China, 60 per cent in the United States, and only 16 per cent in Russia.
Yavlinsky urged students to participate in politics and go to the polls, because the policies of the present government course would predetermine the prospects for future generations. «Now such sanctions are imposed [on Russia], that grandchildren of the present young people will have to pay for them. And these sanctions will lead to such braking, that the country will lagging behind [the developed countries] for decades,” Grigory Yavlinsky said. «We will be sitting with our nuclear bombs, like North Korea. Certainly, no one will attack us, well, then what? None of the current government will be alive then, but people will be still paying for what has been done now, for the fact that the country was a target for sanctions.»