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Commercialization of Internal and Foreign Policy

Commercialization of Internal and Foreign Policy
Oleg Kulikov 21.06.2006

Crisis of the Russian Foreign Policy before the Sammit of the “Eight"

One of the major problems of the Russian foreign policy is connected with a proceeding expansion of the West to the postSoviet space which becomes faster and more effective in conditions when the Russian authorities don’t have perspective vision of its role in the CIS and integration processes. Sometimes there is an impression that all Russian policy in the CIS is subordinated to momentary commercial interests of the companies close to authority - in particular to "Gazprom". From its part the gas monopoly frankly neglects allied attitudes of Russiaand Belarusactually having headed on destruction of the Union. "Gazprom" has officially confirmed that it has already directed to Belarusthe contract according to which the price for gas for this country starting from the year 2007 will be raised up to the "European" level - 200 dollars per cubic metre, i.e. four times over.

It’s not a surprise that looking at such policy of the Russian authorities the USA, other western countries and the military block of NATO have begun new approach to the western boundaries of Russia. Today the boundary of resistance to NATO expansion passes in the Ukraine. Resistance movement to NATO soldiery is being formed in the Crimeain connection with landing of the American soldiers in Feodosiya and preparing works for training "See Breeze 2006". The Supreme body of republic declared the Crimeaterritory – the territory without NATO, earlier it had been made by city council of Feodosiya. The policy of the Ukrain authorities is different from public opinion: according to the poll the two third of the Ukrainians are against the entrance of the Ukraineinto NATO. Struggle of Crimea people and the majority of the Ukrainian population against NATO found hot support in Russiaand first of all in a camp of the left and patriotic forces. The presidium of the Central Committee of the CPRF passed the declaration under the slogan "NO to NATO expansion".

The Russian authorities take a dual position. On the one hand they understand that entrance of the Ukrainein the sphere of NATO influence will mean sharp worsening of geopolitic position of Russia. On the other hand Russiais sticked in the internal political struggle in the Ukraineconnected with interests of the Russian business. It makes advances both to oligarch Party of regions of the Ukrainewhich is engaged in the campaign against NATO and is for the introduction of the Russian language as the second and to the “orange” who are still incapable to form the government profits of the Russian companies depend on. The State Duma accepted an appeal to the Supreme Rada of the Ukrainehaving expressed concern about the NATO trainings in Crimea but simultaneously disavowed previous notorious application which contained the question about the belonging of Crimea to Russia. The Kremlin continued to observe steadfastly the situation in the Ukrainebeing afraid to undertake any actions.

The Russian authorities prefer to make advances to the West that in many respects is caused by preparation of the summit of "the big eight" in Petersburg. According to some estimation the foreign policy factor was not the last in the retirement of V.Ustinov who has developed "JUKOS case" which has in the West the most negative resonance. V.Putin tries to be released from an image of the "the suppressor of free mass-media" (according to parameters of freedom mass-media in Russiain a rating of "Freedom House" is on the 158 place out of 194). In the Kremlin Convention Centre the congress of independent press with participation of significant representatives of the international media-community was held. Quite attitude to the action of NBP of V.Putin drew attention, its participants were let go.

Thus, just now Russiacarries the baby and it cannot resist to NATO expansion. The problem is that the Kremlin itself with some of its actions - an inconsistent Ukrainian and Belaruspolicy - promotes this expansion.

"Guided democracy" as a political cover of privatization. Under cover of social rhetoric and patriotic slogans the Russian authorities persistently continue a line on liberal reforms in those spheres which they haven’t touched upon yet. Above the commercialization of the foreign policy is mentioned. Not less obvious became commercialization of a social sphere which the government and parliament want to legalize. One of the sensational events of the week became an acceptance by the State Duma the law on independent institutions in the first reading. This law allows giving the corresponding status to educational, medical and cultural institutions that will give a way to their privatization and transition to a paid basis. As a matter of fact, it means not simply refusal of gains of socialism but also infringement of the operating constitution which proclaims Russiato be a social state.

Its interests are also being lobbied by the Ministry of Defence which wants to achieve cancellation of the majority of reasons for occupational determent. The State Duma passed the corresponding law already in the second reading. We already made comments on its maintenance in the materials marking that obstinate desire of generals to increase to the maximum recruitment to the army contradicts public interests and has narrow departmental character. To the second reading the Kremlin refused the indulgences despite of recently advertised by V.Putin demographic program. The recruits whose wives are pregnant haven’t waited for the determents. The determent will be received only by those whose wife waits for the second child as well as fathers of children-invalids younger than three years. Acceptance of the Wood code which will open a way to privatization of forests is being prepared "on the sly": the Communist Party of the Russian Federationis in avant guarde of struggle against this law, it led in the State Duma serious discussion of problems of new Water and Wood code with participation of leading Russian scientists.

Ruling circles are interested not in social policy but struggle for authority and promotion of putin’s "successor", to this purpose their public actions in social sphere are subordinated. In mass-media the theme of "the third term" is still exaggerated, the thesis about having no alternative of the present president is being introduced, that is done for the case when it will be necessary to habituate Russian and Western public opinion to the inevitability of such – anticonstitutional – variant. Campaign for carrying out of a referendum and introducing of amendments into constitution is being led by the movement created in Northern Ossetia"Consent and Stability". Data of sociological interrogations published in mass-media indicates that a share of those who supports Putin’s third term has grown from 41 % up to 59 % during the last nine month (to support successor offered by V.Putin is ready  43 % of Russians).

In the meantime the situation in authorities remains unstable. Case of one more senator - L.Chahmahchjan accused of bribery is developing into corruption scandal in the Chamber of Accounts where own “turnskins” are found out. Scandals in the Upper Chamber allow to raise the question about the change of its formation order. Communists are going to offer the bill of national elections of members of Council of Federation. Restless situation can be seen in the government. Attack to minister of regional development of V.Jakovlev has begun, they want to make him a “switcher” for the wrecking of the national project on accessible habitations.

On this background infinite correcting of the selective legislation proceeds. This time it’s a process of canceling of voting "against all" on all elections: the State Duma passes the law in the first reading. It is interesting that in this question "Edinaya Rossia" was joined by LDPR and "alternative" fraction "Motherland" of S.Baburin which were closely cooperating with presidential administration. The cancellation of possibility to vote "against all" on presidential elections can facilitate a victory of Putin’s successor in the first round. In opinion of communists this law bears anticonstitutional character and destroys freedom of will. Voting "against all" became widespread and conscious form of protest voting which now they want to cancel. Doing this authorities infringe upon the right of voters to have alternative point of view. Struggle against protest movement acquire also other forms. The Public Chamber suggests to refuse to register parties and candidates that use "extremist lexicon". That can be a new way of cutting off of opposition from participation in elections under far-fetched reason. However, as historical experience shows, attempts of the authorities to suppress protest activity using coercive approach and bureaucratic methods can have only opposite effect.
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