The adopted law on replacing social benefits with monetary payments has caused increased protest sentiments in society. However, this fall the State Duma is to consider new "unpopular" bills. Nezavisimaya Gazeta asked prominent Russian politicians whether they expected an increase in social confrontation in September and November and who, in their opinion, could head the opposition?
Boris Nemtsov, member of the Union of Rightist Forces political council, believes that there would not have been any public conflict if officials had first abolished their own benefits. The conflict between society and the authorities may get worse in the fall if a bill to abolish conscription deferrals for students is submitted.
Sergei Mitrokhin, deputy chairman of the Yabloko party, links a possible fall escalation in tension to the expected adoption of the second part of the social reform, the Housing Code, which will affect virtually every citizen. It would be enough to mention the possible eviction of tenants who fail to pay their communal bills. In September, the protests will continue and will attract more crowds because of the season, Mr. Mitrokhin points out.
Gennady Gudkov, member of the State Duma security committee, believes that the negative developments concerning the replacement of benefits with monetary payments will end no later than March 2005. The abolition of communal housing benefits will be met with a turbulent reaction in the State Duma, both in the United Russia and in the opposition factions. Mr. Gudkov is certain that opposition will not only be firm, but also constructive, which will not try to reject everything and make political capital from others' mistakes, failures or social tension.