— Dziennik Gazeta Prawna: on the one hand, public opinion polls show that Putin’s rating is still above 80%. On the other hand, Russia’s growing protests, an example of which we saw in March. How do you explain this contradiction?
Mikhail Kasyanov: the surveys should be approached with caution. Citizens communicate with sociologists as they used to do it in Soviet times. “Do you support Putin?” “Yes, Yes, support, get away from me.” Here are these 85%. On the other hand, Putin’s policy was so strict that people do not see any alternative candidate that could replace him. At the same time propaganda works, explaining that we are surrounded by enemies in the state is growing “fifth column”, the country is threatened by chaos and bloodshed. People can’t see who, but Putin will be able to provide them stability. They don’t like it, but don’t believe in the alternative.
There is a second aspect. When we are talking about the support policy, should focus on the election results. After the 2012 presidential election, who did not let the real candidates of the opposition among the scientists began to debate how real support for Putin. A week before the vote, polls gave him 48-51%, and was officially released 64%. Doubts remain, I agree with them. Putin took part in these elections only once — in 2000-m to year, then he got 53%. Now his real rating is kept approximately at the same level, although the composition of this support group is changing.
— Is it true that Russian electoral machine from year to year better cope with the results, who expects to see power, and in this regard, the chances of the opposition at any success gradually decrease?
Yes, it showed last year’s parliamentary elections. A week before the vote, polls gave my Party of people’s freedom of 8%. Then on TV there was a film in which its members put supporters of the Ukrainian fascists. The story was illustrated by footage of executions during the Second world war. Added to this fraud. We have received reports of election commissions that stacks of ballots for the PARNASSUS shifted in a pile with votes for “United Russia”. In the end, instead of 8%, we got 0.7%.
Again, the electoral path is closed for you, are you ready to take control of the protest movement and use it to power struggle?
— We wish the streets were more people. March 26, protests were held across the country, but the number of participants was not very impressive. In Moscow a lot more people are collecting protests against the demolition of Khrushchev. But it is important in March to the streets for the first time released a new social group — young people who had not participated in such activities.
— Authorities are trying to destroy the opposition from within. For example, recently was released taped conversations in which You made critical comments about colleagues to the opposition. It affects Your activities?
The biggest effect is not on the support of us society, and the interaction of our activists among themselves. This is one of the tools used by people from the presidential administration, trying to control civil society. There are even of the internal policy Department. What is, in fact, domestic policy? The only task of leadership of a normal country in this area is to ensure that all participants in political life with equal conditions for competition and to stand guard over the Constitution. But for us there are the manipulators who engage in such intrigue and we are trying to quarrel.
— How to convince people that you, the opposition, can become the alternative to Putin? Maybe people come out to defend Khrushchev just because they don’t think it’s opposition?
A good example is the continuing protests by truckers against the laws that best approximate to the power of the people. They demand that Putin listened to them, then the protests will end. We explain to them that the root of all evil just Putin. And they retort: “No, we don’t want to translate the theme in a political plane”. The same thing is happening in Moscow. People protest against the seizure of their property: they do not want to lose their apartments in the Khrushchev and to receive in return are not comparable with them in cost housing on the outskirts. It seems to me that in the coming months we will be able to give protests in Moscow political overtones, to explain that the problem lies in power, Putin. He Soviet-style ignores people’s opinions.
— Whether the opposition to nominate their candidate for the presidential elections which will be held in March 2018?
— Is unclear, although at the present stage, ought to already know that. The intention to run said two people: the founder of the party “Yabloko” Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexei Navalny, who could not stand as a candidate. My party wants me to run too, but I already stated that I do not want to participate in these elections. The Putin administration declared that the March elections will be “a referendum on confidence in Putin.” The outcome is already clear. The people who work on the power, personally, are interested in it, because they can get promoted, win awards, new service apartments and so on. The candidate of the opposition should be able to raise the political wave. Elections — this is our Institute, the Institute of the Democrats. Putin stole it from us, I hope, only temporarily. Bulk — efficient people, it could be the RAM. But run he would not: he then handed down the new sentence, to allow the elections. PARNAS gives himself time until the end of September, then we decide which candidate to support or exhibit.
— On public sentiment affects the economy. In 2014-2015, the rouble rapidly depreciated, the price of oil fell, and the country went into recession. Now the situation has stabilized. Perhaps the most difficult for the authorities the moment has already passed.
— The worst is over. GDP fell in total by 7%, we are now approximately at the level of 2007. The world in that time managed to get away. Then the share of Russia accounted for 3.5% of the gross world product, now less than 2.5%. We have moved from recession to stagnation. Oil prices remained high, allowing you to stay afloat, but neither of which the growth of the question. It has no sources. Usually they are investments. During the recession of Russia took on $ 150 billion a year, now that the flow has decreased to 50 billion. This means that the investors have taken their capital abroad in order to wait for better times. Putin promises them nothing, and they already wouldn’t believe him. Therefore, neither Russian nor foreign investors will not be for Putin to sink their money in the Russian economy. GDP growth is not expected stagnation could drag on for 20 years.
Sometimes crisis becomes the impetus for reform…
But only for this government, which is planning to hold them. Putin do not plan to. Reform is the risk of losing power. He is afraid that 8%, which could be to our party, would give us 20 seats in the Duma, where we could every day to criticize him, thereby undermining his authority. The theme of the Moscow Khrushchev — a good example of the risk that power is not counted. And people now do not think like when Khrushchev: “hurray, we relocated from the slums to a good home.” Now it looks differently: “perhaps we do not live in the best of circumstances, but our apartments are worth more than what we officially offer in return.”
— You said that the capital outflow suggests that the financial elite no longer believe the government. It is possible in this case scenario is a split within the establishment?
The split within the regime will not, because each of these people found a warm place. The principle is: the closer you get to Putin, the more opportunities you have to earn. But if to speak not about the officials, and businessmen, such a split has already occurred. These people are waiting for change of government. They will support the opposition as soon as you realize that it’s possible. The problem is that now no one sees the real and safe for business of the mechanism of change of power, so businessmen “do not lean out” in order not to lose their property and not go to jail. However, for security services every businessman is a thief a priori, so it needs to pay for its very existence. This is one of the sources of corruption.
— You worked with Putin for four years. You can tell based on your experience, what kind of Russia he wants to leave behind?
— When I was working with Putin, it was quite different. He looked committed to the principles of democracy, the man who wants to create a civil society. So then we managed to do a lot of good. Thanks to the reforms we made, the economy is still somehow functioning. But I was wrong. Putin was only pretending to be a Democrat. Similarly, however, wrong Boris Yeltsin, Putin opened the way to power. He experienced it as a personal tragedy, which has become one of the causes of his premature death.
What Russia would like to leave behind Putin? So what he built. It is the Soviet Union with capitalism for friends. The country that the whole world is afraid just because of the fact that it exists that is respected not because she is thriving thanks to the wise leadership, but because it threatens all around. Putin follows this line so far and humiliates the leaders of other countries.
— Will the foreign policy if Putin’s successor will be the opposition? Will leave Russia out of Syria, you will refuse it from the “gathering of Russian lands” will return the Crimea?
Maybe. It is much harder to imagine what will come to power a democratic politician. We would like to support a candidate that will adhere to democratic principles and offer the steps you mentioned. But so far no such people. Even those two candidates who have declared their desire to run, such guarantees do not give.
On the other hand, people who declare that, as President, he will return Crimea to Ukraine, can hardly expect to win.
— The expression “to give the Crimea” is a simplification, although it is sometimes credited to me. But if we believe that the annexation of Crimea was illegal, the government should sit down at the negotiating table and think about what to do with it. It is possible to have a legitimate procedure, not just to give. Otherwise, what happens? The king came and gave — as in a fairy tale.
— What procedure would You suggest?
I’m not here to talk about the procedures, because far from it. I just want to note that if I stood at the head of the state, we would lead such negotiations with the Ukrainian side. We would discuss all problems that arose in our relations: the status of the Russian language, the situation of the Crimean Tatars, the economy and infrastructure, our shared goals and values. Need new extended the agreement on friendship and cooperation, which will allow taking into account the interests of Russia to decide all questions relating to, for example, the port in Sevastopol. It is important for us because we have no other, but after 50 years, the methods of protection of the territory so changed that it will be fit only for scrap.
— Last question I want to dedicate Poland. What role in the policy Putin played our country when You were Prime Minister?
At that time Poland was responsible I. I twice went there and raised the question of the restoration of our relations, particularly in the context of the shot on the territory of Russia of the Polish officers and the creation of memorial complexes at Katyn and Mednoye. I gave this topic of great importance. Putin was doing in the first place, the fight against terrorism and cooperation with the United States in this field, but I do not remember that he spoke negatively about Poland. However, in those years the attitude towards the West and Ukraine also had no negative. Only later, when we began to argue, for example, on the Ukrainian question, I realized that Putin considers former Soviet Union defective States. On this basis we have been several clashes, including the public.