Yelena Fyodorova, Natalia Seibil
- The power vertical was conceived, among other things, as a tool for linking regions to the center. However, you say that this is where the break line is. How and when can this conflict manifest itself?
- Federalism of the 90s was far from ideal. It was built not so much on the effective delineation of powers between the center and the regions, as on mutual disregard for decisions made by each other. The Federation spat on the subjects, they spat on Moscow in response. Everyone issued legal acts that he himself wanted; however, no one, except the publisher, considered it necessary to adhere to them. The chaos and disorganization were terrible, not the invention of Putin's propagandists. It was really necessary to regain controllability. Another thing is that under this dressing we have restored not only and even not so much manageability as authoritarianism. The subjects were deprived of the right to spit on Moscow, but Moscow was left with the right to spit on the regions.
The source of power is now not the law, but the will of the ruler. The system is terribly skewed. All decisions are made in the capital. From a person who controls the territory, the governor has turned into a supplicant who is authorized by Moscow only to wipe his pants in the capital's offices. The “power vertical” in the form in which Putin built it is not an instrument of “tying regions to the center,” as you put it, but an instrument of total domination of the center over the regions. The latter have only the right to kneel down and humbly pray for something. Naturally they don't like it. Therefore, anti-Moscow sentiment is growing stronger. Dislike for the capital, which sucks all the juices out of the hinterland, is perhaps the only motive that unites the elite and ordinary citizens in the province.
All this will inevitably lead to the politicization of the problem - just as it was in the late 1980s. As soon as the regional nomenclature feels that the center has weakened, it will immediately rush to the barricades to defend the interests of its subjects. For her, this will be the only source of legitimacy, the only chance to wriggle out and remain in power when the whole system falls apart. Putin's governors will behave in exactly the same way as the first secretaries of the union republics once behaved. Local federals, including security officials, will also join them. They, after all, also dislike their Moscow bosses. Putin has gripped the spring of centralization too tightly, and it will inevitably unfold.
- The division between rich and poor is connected not only with the difference in income, but, to a large extent, with corruption корруп and the lack of social lifts. The authorities are trying to fight corruption, why no one believes it?
“The fact that people do not believe in the fight against corruption” is a particular manifestation of a more general problem. People don't believe in the law. They know that the law is only an instrument in the hands of the ruler. How many times has Putin talked about the inviolability of the Constitution? And then it was time to "zero", and that was all - he immediately forgot about the inviolability, and let's shred it so that only pieces flew. How many times, without hiding an impudent grin, Onishchenko declared war on either Turkish tomatoes, then Ukrainian sweets, or the Georgian "Borjomi" - it was only necessary for the respective country to annoy the Russian Foreign Ministry? It was obvious, after all, that the quality of the prohibited products had nothing to do with the case, just the Russian leadership once again decided to punish someone. Such things do not pass without leaving a trace. People in Russia have always known that "the law is like a pole, how it turned - it happened", and then the state convinces them of this over and over again.
The result is appropriate. Look at the reaction of the Khabarovsk citizens in the Furgal case. It never occurred to anyone that he could be really guilty - although, it would seem, how would an ordinary voter know, maybe he actually killed someone in the 90s. Times were really dashing. But no, everyone immediately decided that it was the Kremlin that was dealing with the unwanted opposition governor. People do not believe in the objectivity and impartiality of the law, and the fight against corruption is perceived as one of the tools with which officials settle scores with each other. And they are absolutely correct, by the way. So after all it is.
Of course, the authorities could quickly convince the population that they are seriously fighting corruption. To do this, it would be enough to stop ignoring the numerous investigations published by independent media and the opposition. How many trials did we have following their exposure? How many criminal cases have been initiated? No one. And people see all this. Even if they are silent, this does not mean at all that they do not notice anything.
- The 90s have passed in vain not because the government was weak, but because real parliamentarism never emerged, some say. After the fall of authoritarianism, will a democratic government be needed, or is it a new political system?
- The main - systemic - problem of the 90s was that then too many reforms were launched in the country. They all went in parallel, and their consequences got confused and interfered with each other. First, the formation itself was changing - instead of the socialist - state - economy, a capitalist - private economy was created. This, naturally, entailed a change in the structure of society - new social groups arose, new types of relations were born, new - unprecedented - conflicts broke out. All this in itself is very difficult, but here a reform of relations between the center and the regions was superimposed; democratization - which led to the entry into the political arena of new groups of citizens who had not previously participated in politics. Fundamentally new institutions appeared - local government, political parties, independent media, etc., etc. All this happened simultaneously, and even in the conditions of a complete lack of the skills of civilized political discussion and search for consensus. The social structure and political process became so complicated that not a single human brain, not a single computer could calculate in which direction and at what speed the situation would develop; which trend and at what stage will be dominant. The problem is that each of these processes spawned not only those who were pleased with them, but also those whom they resented. And the dissatisfied, by the way, very often turn out to be more active in the political sense, they enter into coalitions with each other and can create a united front against the reformers. In general, I mean that with regard to the 90s, one cannot say that replacing the presidential regime with a parliamentary one could solve all these problems. No, then there was no single solution at all that could drastically change the situation. There is no golden key in politics that can open up all bottlenecks in one turn, and even more so, one should not dream of it in such a difficult situation.
Now the situation is different. The political system, of course, is also beginning to weaken, but there is still much more order in it than in the 90s. You can still try to save it from collapse. This requires reforms and gradual democratization. Something similar to what happened in the late 70s in Spain. From a backward and authoritarian country, this country then managed to turn into a full-fledged democracy in just a few years - and without any particular upheavals.
To avoid a large-scale revolution - after all, without understanding it, it creates problems for both the right and the guilty - a compromise is needed between the power camp and the opposition - or rather, between their moderate wings. The transition to a parliamentary republic could become such a compromise. The problem with the presidential model is that the posts of the head of state and the actual head of government are combined here. The head of state is also the main politician of the country. This is one chair, and there is a fierce struggle for it. Whoever occupies it is the winner, who does not occupy it is the loser. Black and white scheme, no halftones. Under parliamentarianism, these positions are divorced. The head of state does not participate in the development of the current political course. This is the responsibility of the chairman of the government appointed by the results of parliamentary elections. The latter, in fact, is the main politician, while not being the formal head of state. This is exactly what Russia needs now. The introduction of this model would help the authorities and opposition to get out of the clinch in which they found themselves.
Putin could take over as president, which, however, would not involve interference in the current political situation. He would have received the honorary status of the head of state and guarantees of immunity; but society would be able to move forward, in fact, already without Putin. He, of course, can recommend and push almost anyone for the post of prime minister, but if this person is not a clinical idiot, he will quickly understand the need to curtail the current course and begin gradual democratization. Just as once in Spain it was done by the former faithful Francoist Suarez.