The autumn of 1996: political destabilization and economic crisis
In October- November this year, the IET started conducting the survey on experts in the field of economico- political situation in this country, estimations of current situation and an identification of the most crucial trends of its development. The results of the first survey are given below in more details. It was the successful completion of the Mr. Eltzin's surgery which was recognized as a crucial event in November by the overwhelming majority of both politicians and politologists. With the operation's results, the question of Russian power’s stableness which has not been fully clarified in the course of the July election is likely to be resolved for the forthcoming four years. The executive body is granted with more distinct horizons of their activities. Thus, the uncertainty of power, as one of the most important obstacles on the way of investment activities is eliminated The recovery of Mr. Eltzin should inevitably provoke a change in a character of a struggle within the top echelons of power. On the one hand, the tension in undercover intrigues to be closer to the President should intensify, and this may soon lead to a substantial reshuffling in the executive structures.. On the other hand, one may expect the " compromat combat " happening in the course of October- November to weaken, since it may not be safe enough to hold any active manifestations against members of the team of the acting President.
At the same time the last months showed that, regardless of an intensive struggle on the top, the current political situation is rather stable, specifically in terms of relationships between the Federal power's organs.
In the first place the relationships between the power institutions have become more or less stable. Given all the disagreements and discrepancies between the executive and legislative branches of power, none of them is interested in a destabilizing the situation, nor in premature elections, or social staggering. The Government need stability, and stability means a lack of any shuffles for them.
Secondly, in the relationship between the authorities of both the Government and Presidential Administration, the unusual stability is inherent. In any case, the relationship is better than it has ever been at any moment of the first Eltzin's term. Furthermore, both Mr.Chernomyrdin and Mr. Choubais are objectively interested in a peaceful and stable development of the situation. For the former it is a reliable way to the Presidency, while the latter it is the best way to keep his position in the apparatus. Besides, they are not bound to compete with Eltzin, since both of them do not have any chances to keep the power contrary to the acting President. Given the above, the opposition tactics seems to be two- faced. On the one hand, the CPRF leaders use any chance to manifest their moderateness, wishing to get their potential electorate expanding, at the expense of non- communist forces. On the other hand, some attempts are undertaken to drive a wedge between forces within the executive power, including an establishment of specifically close relationships with Mr. Chernomyrdin (it was especially transparent in the case of the discussion during the second hearing on the Law on Government), as well as in their flirting with branch representatives in the Government. The split within executive structure, which currently seems to be only potential, might become a reality over this month.
The demonstrations and strikes raised in early November were mostly characterized with economic claims. At the same time, the split has become clear between the leftist parties and mass trade unions united within the framework of the Independent Trade Unions Federation of Russia (ITUFR).. The latter showed themselves as a rather reliable ally to the Government, attempting as hard as possible to weaken the opposition parties' manifestations under political anti- governmental slogans..
The situation around results of local elections has not transpired yet. Although it is candidates of opposition who mostly are coming to power in regions, one cannot be definite with saying that the Federal executive power would fail to find a common language with them. In any case, many of the newly elected heads of regions are anxious to stress their readiness to constructively collaborate with both the President and the Government.
It is arrears in the field of salaries and wages and the situation in the army, along with perspectives of a development of the situation in the North -Caucasian republics which should be singled out as main points of the current social and political tension in this country. It is these issues which both the President and the Government shall address to in the close future
Experts On Political Situation In Russia
To make a more thorough research into a correlation between politics and economy, in early November the Center of Experts Surveys headed by Mr. V. Mau has conducted a survey on main political event of October- early November. The total number of experts made up 15 ones: seven well- known politologists, five journalists, three politicians. The overwhelming majority of them may be attributed to "democratic camp", while a single expert (Mr. A.I. Podberezkin) represented the opposition ( CPRF).
Of the most crucial events occurred over the period of October- early November, the majority of respondents specified President's surgery, dismissal of Lebed, nomination of Berezovsky, and the ongoing peaceful process in Chechenya. It is also the failure to establish the Consultation Council under the President, forming of a team "under Chubais", and strengthening of the position of Mr. Chubas himself. It happened only once that both the declining of the budget draft and the opposition's success at regional elections were noted as event of the month.
In their estimation of a general political situation, the experts were rather unanimous: they considered the political situation to be strained, though it seemed unstable to them.
The experts were less optimistic in judging a general economic situation and defined it either as strained ( 6 answers), or critical one.
As per the Government's course, the majority of experts estimated it as partly right ( 4 responses). Many of them noted that grave errors are made ( 5 answers). It is symptomatic that many of them expressed a view that there is no course at all, that the course is so much contradictory that all its pluses are neutralized by minuses.
The experts judgments on a domination of either a trend to stabilization, or of one to destabilization and intensification of the crisis in Russia varied. Only three respondents expressed an optimistic view considering that Russia starts to get out of the crisis. Yet three experts proved to be pessimists in this issue thinking that the crisis situation is getting worse and destabilization grows. However, the majority of them expressed their views in a different way. It should be noted that six respondents defined the situation as "stagnated crisis", "stagnation at a low level", " state of the constant depression".
The overwhelming majority of experts think that a level of manageability of the general political and economic situation from the part of the state power is not high ( nine experts), that the situation is almost unmanageable, or it is manageable to a very low degree.
It was "chaos within the power", along with a necessity to elaborate a sole course, stabilization which were specified by the experts as the most important problems the country is confronted by. As one of the experts noted" Our main problem is lack of politicians and a surplus of clerks. And politicians and clerks are absolutely different phenomena".
Many of the experts mentioned financial and production crisises as the main problem.
State Of The Federal Budget.
Table 1. Execution of the federal budget of Russia from January to October of 1996 (% of GDP)
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