No confidence in Russian Government
Russia is going through another political and social crisis with severe socio-economic consequences for both society and the state, Gennadi Zuganov, leader of the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) told the Duma. The communists blame the government of the Russian Federation led by the Prime Minister Kasyanov for its failure to implement meaningful economic and social measures. Kasyanov has been Prime Minister since May 2000. The following points are taken from the statement which was made on behalf of communist Duma representatives. 1. The government revised the 2001 budget after it had been passed. The state's budget policy is aimed at mainly providing debt repayments. It will mean shrinking investment in domestic industries, cuts to the development budget; cuts to social funds, health, education, science and technology. 2. The government's Labour Laws of the Russian Federation are a recipe for creating tension in society. They have been rejected by the working people of Russia, trade unions and the majority of the Duma deputies. Under the new labour legislation workers' rights are not collectively protected; trade unions have no right to take part in discussions related to their enterprises. The new Labour Laws give the employer the right to increase the length of the working day to 12 hours. In essence, workers are put in the position of serfs with no rights and no protection. Despite thousands of protest messages from workers who demand the guarantee of their rights and freedoms, the government is trying to push through its Labour Laws which will inevitable cause an even greater splintering of society and create dangerous social tensions. 3. The government insists on the free purchase and sale of agricultural land. The changes that have already taken place in agriculture have caused a significant drop in production. Investment in agriculture is at an all time low. Agricultural machine building has almost been destroyed. The main bulk of mineral fertilisers are exported. As a result of the neglect in agriculture, almost one half of agricultural produce is being imported. Russia has lost its food production security. The proposed privatisation of agricultural land will inevitably lead to the end of agriculture as land will be bought by commercial banks, criminals and financial speculators. 4. The government's procrastination in solving urgent problems in the state sector and the continuing unregulated activities of such monopolies as gas and electricity, has seen emergency situations in a number of regions during wintertime. The government is planning to "withdraw" from the 30 largest companies in the country. Despite a number of laws which specifically define the government's obligations, the state continues to divest of economic responsibility. In addition to rising electricity and gas prices, the housing situation has also reached crisis proportions. According to official figures, 40 million Russian citizens live in substandard housing, including two million who live in conditions not suitable for human habitation. The most acute situation is in small cities and in the country. The government has done nothing to deal with the crumbling housing sector and continues to do nothing. The government is also accused of neglecting the crises in education, science and culture. The main thrust of the education reforms made public by the government in July last year is directed against free education. The government has ignored the opinions of teachers and educators and once again is trying to review its obligations for free education as stated in legislation. Constant attempts are being made to privatise education and professional training. This is not a complete list of grievances that concern parliamentarians. In general, they are deeply worried about economic and social developments and want the government removed.
* * *FOOTNOTE: According to the Russian constitution, if a no-confidence motion is successful it could mean early parliamentary elections. According to Gennadi Zuganov, the Communist Party is ready to take part in elections and would be likely to achieve good results. "The left forces are getting stronger as evidenced by the recent elections in Moldova where communists have achieved a resounding victory", he said. Another interesting aspect in the present situation is the fact that not only the communists in the Duma but Putin's pro-government Unity fraction are also thinking of supporting a no-confidence vote. In later developments President Putin and Gennadi Zuganov had a two-hour meeting. No details of the meeting were given and the proposed no- confidence vote will be presented in the Duma on March 14.