Vladimir Putin has proclaimed a very important thing: all officials and all people must be equal before the law. This is what a normal democracy should be like. What do the State Duma deputies think about it? I asked this question to Major-General Valery Vorotnikov, a State Duma deputy and former chief of the protection of the constitutional order of the KGB.
Question: Russia received a new president on December 31, 1999. What is your estimation to Putin’s work?
Answer: There have been a lot of discussions about this subject. Russia can sometimes hurry, giving estimations about this or that subject. Of course, I can compare what has improved or worsened in comparison with the previous president, Boris Yeltsin. If making such a comparison, then I may surely say that our people have made the right choice. There are a lot of indexes in Putin’s favor, even the formal ones. First of all, the working capacity of the new president; people were telling jokes about Yeltsin’s health. Thank God our president is working at a pace Russia needs, since Russia is not in its best state now. I think that the personal contribution of the president should be estimated as positive as well as the steps that the president has managed to do over this short time period. I am talking about the strengthening of the vertical line of power. I may say today that we have put an end to the separatist sentiments in the regions, and those decisions that are made on the federal level are executed in the regions. This trend is becoming more stable still. The work about bringing the laws of the Federation units into line with the federal legislation with the Russian Federation Constitution must also be given the positive estimation. Finally, what is being done in the country currently: the process connected with the political parties. This is a very important issue, which should have been decided long ago.
Question: The question pertaining to the government is very important for us. Do you remember how members of the government were changing very fast when Boris Yeltsin was president? Sometimes the governments were dismissed, and there was no one to carry out responsibilities.
Answer: It is not clear who recommended those people, who nominated them, promoted them, and who gave them the instructions for their actions. As a result, they did not account either to the president or to the people. I hope that we will change the situation for the better. Unfortunately, we can not yet boast of big achievements in the economic field. If we look at the budget 2002, then we will clearly see that we are leading a very poor life and depend on different fluctuations that happen in the world economy. Both the government and the president have a lot of opportunities for activity in this respect. There is something to work on there. We perfectly realize that if we do not bring our economy back to life, all other issues can be put aside. A poor country that can not protect the citizens that are not capable of working – this problem is always bad, both from the point of view of the presidents’ and government’s work.
Question: What do you think should be done in order to have a normal government and to prevent embezzlement of the kind that has recently happened at the Railway Ministry and the head of this department, Nikolay Aksenenko?
Answer: I would not make it that narrow, mentioning one person only. Any person working at a top position can find himself in Aksenenko’s shoes. Who nominated and promoted Aksenenko to that position? If all the suspicions are confirmed, then who is going to be responsible for that promotion? When they used to enlist people in the communist party, they asked for two things: the old communists were responsible for a new member in front of the party. Now there is no such kind of responsibility. We are standing for powerful, responsible parties, which would win the majority of votes at the parliamentary elections. This would give the president an opportunity to commission the winning party to form the government. Unfortunately, this is an ancient, traditional Russian problem: stealing and roads, we have not been able to ret rid of that. Another positive aspect in the work of our president is that the facts of transgression can be exposed, made public – even when they involve the high-ranking officials. It is probably right that the president does not get involved in the affairs of the office of the prosecutor and does not supervise the work of this department. Everyone have the functions of their own. If the people make their jobs well, then they will win the President’s trust. If not, then the president must take the adequate measures.
Question: We have already had an example with the former deputy minister for internal affairs, General Orlov: many of those officials who were caught stealing escaped abroad and cannot be reached by the Russian special services. Can’t the office of the public prosecutor and the special services counteract in this respect? Don’t they know the way for those people to escape abroad?
Answer: There are different ways to escape abroad. If you remember Oleg Gordiyevsky, the betrayer, he escaped abroad in spite of the fact the KGB was attentively watching him. There was a great number of swindlers and thieves during the pre-Putin perio, who could go to another country without any problems and manage their work in Russia from there. This process has decreased lately; moreover, some of them were brought back to Russia and put on trial.
Question: Do you think the president's activity is getting a worthy estimation abroad? Will Russia’s image improve in the global scale?
Answer: Things are not changing that fast. If we are praising our president here in Russia, the West believes Putin is just making his first steps. I think his debut was a success.
Valery Vorotnikov was interviewed by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2001/12/10/34702.html