PRAVDA.Ru interviewed State Duma deputy and Deputy Chairman of the Duma’s Committee for CIS Affairs Anatoly Chekhoyev.
- Anatoly Georgievich, do you think the rights of Russians living abroad in the Baltic countries and the CIS are observed?
The breakup of the USSR started with Nagorny Karabakh and completed on March 17, 1991, when a referendum on the union’s future was held. The people understood at that the union may or may not exist. The rest was just a consequence of that understanding.
The State Emergency Situation Committee (GKChP) was arrested on August 21, and Boris Yeltsin then came to power. The people placed great hopes on him.
Nowadays, we complete the breakup of the USSR by the adoption of a new law on citizenship. Over the ten years since the creation of the CIS, Russia has been striving for estrangement of the CIS states in the economic sphere. The March agreements on the creation of the CIS are gradually fading away. About 1,200 documents have been developed over the whole period, but only 6% are in force as of now. These deal with customs, borders, migration laws, and relations between the states. The CIS has failed to create economic agreements within its network.
The CIS has ceased its existence as of today. There is the Union of Russia and Belarus and an economic community of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. There are countries such as Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova that stick to their anti-Russian policies.
Today, as we pass the law on citizenship and neglect the fate of 28 million Russians living in the CIS countries, we add an ultimate contribution to the breakup of the USSR. The granting of Russian citizenship has been greatly complicated. More than that, we also complicated citizenship laws in the CIS. Regarding the law that we are passing, we treat our compatriots only as a labor force. We say that we will receive only capable people with qualifications and jobs.
Germany spends 969DM per year on its compatriots living abroad. This includes education, churches, and theatres. Russia spends 0.25 kopecks on the same purpose. We have two migration programs; the first was submitted by Russia’s Labor and Social Protection Minister Alexander Pochinok and the second was submitted by Alexander Blokhin, who was in charge of migration and national and regional politics. These are two alternative concepts of Russia’s migration policy.
I was rather surprised when President Putin said that we would welcome our compatriots home. I am an official closely connected with these problems. Russia is experiencing tremendous unemployment; it would be extremely difficult to receive 28 millions more and guarantee them employment and lodging. It costs 750-800 thousand rubles at the minimum to provide ordinary settlement to one refugee. The budget hasn't such sums. I consider the statement to be rather strange.
The law completes the large-scale work of the RF government on the isolation of all former Soviet republics. We are a power with a ten-year history that was established on June 12, 1990. The Soviet Union was a successor to the Russian Empire, and, later, Russia became a successor to the Soviet Union. If you act as a legal successor to someone, you are responsible for the people who were citizens of the state.
The law we pass today demonstrates that we are no longer responsible for our compatriots living abroad. We have what we desired to get as the legal successor of the Soviet Union: seats in the United Nations and the UN Security Council. However, we do not recognize the Soviet people living outside Russia. As a result, our compatriots used to say they might go to their motherland, to Russia, but now they have think the problem over very thoroughly. The perspective they are to face is a five-year period of being a displaced person and only a residence permit. Finally, Russians living in the CIS decide to reconcile themselves to the conditions of the country they live in and learn the local language. The process of de-russianization is very active in the CIS now. People ignorant of the local language have no future in the CIS countries.
- What do you think the law should be then? What is to be done for the people to be more secured?
Now they say that we make the law tougher as we are afraid of more refugees, drug barons, and criminals that might invade Russia. To be sure, these people will arrive in Russia with authentic documents. However, ordinary people will be deprived of any care and protection. There are six million refugees in Russia now, and about 60% of them have no regular lodging. The remaining 40% live in the boarding houses and earn money the markets; in other words, the state does not care about them. A concept of receiving refugees and forced migrants has not been developed in Russia. Nobody wants to be responsible for the problem. Now, the citizenship problem will be in the jurisdiction of a district police inspector: he will determine such problems as knowledge of the Russian language by a migrant, the knowledge of the laws, and the Constitution. District police inspectors will determine the degree of migrants’ loyalty to the Russian regime and whether they should be given Russian citizenship or not.
Yesterday, we were informed of an awful situation: district police inspector received at least $100 for each of the 169 Azerbaijanians registered in a one-room apartment. This seems to be a fault of our legislation. When we mention a migration policy, we are to fix the right of Russians in other countries; that is what the USA traditionally does. Look at any of our laws and you will not find such items.
Our main objective is to make it possible for the Russian people to have better lives in the countries they live, not to escape to Russia. We should make them Russia’s plenipotentiaries there.
Russia has never been a colonial state; it turned out that no one-pole world can be created. A bipolar world can be created with Russia’s participation only. It is possible only if the CIS states, except for the Baltic countries, join into a single union state. Only in this case Russia will be taking take care of the Russians living there.
- Who is to be responsible for settlement of the compatriots arriving in Russia?
The Russian government.
- Why is it reluctant to take it up?
I think Russia’s Social Development and Labor Minister Alexander Pochinok has failed to achieve considerable results at each of the positions he occupied in his life. That is why I do not think he is able to take up the problem seriously. We had had several organizations responsible for the problems of forced migrants, the Migration Committee, the Committee for Nationalities, the Ministry for Internal Affairs, and the Commission for Compatriots, attached to the president and the minister for labor and social policy himself. However, the problem remains unsettled.
- Does not it seem that the parliament is powerless and the deputies can do nothing at all?
The parliament passed a law on the rehabilitation of the 1992 indexing. Does anybody observe it now? The RF Constitution says that the parliament is not authorized to control observance of the laws it passes. However, the Supreme Council of the Soviet Union was authorized. Russia now resembles a super-monarchic state, when the Czar needs the people only when elections are coming.
- Is the anarchy in the legislative sphere profitable for the mafia and corruption? Are there any particular people in the Duma who vote important laws down?
Let us suppose that I am a constructor and get a tender for construction of five apartment houses in Moscow. After that, I have to find the labor force. I send a man to Moldova to recruit workers there and bring them to Moscow. The people are settled then in trailers, and they have to work from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the wages make up 3,000 rubles only (it is $100). Do you see the economics? It is evident that the earnings surpass the spending several times. - Do you think the prime minister is aware of the situation?
An oil distillery is being constructed in North Osetia. The enterprise will sufficiently damage the environment. I am often asked who allowed the construction? I know perfectly well that consent of the topofficial is necessary not only for construction of an oil distillery but even of a shed in every region. Certainly, the prime minister and vice-premier know the situation very well and seem to be satisfied with it. It is a good chance for them to earn some money.
Half of the Duma deputies are not present at the sessions, probably because they are not concerned about this law. A law on privatization is certainly more interesting; you will see that all deputies will be present during the discussion of such a law. A new party, Unified Russia, has been recently created. The leader of the party was asked about the political objectives and programs. The answer was presidential support. Rather strange: it seems to be a party without any ideology and any program.
- Do you mean there are parties in the Duma that pass necessary laws and vote down disagreeable ones?
The Duma needs more experience. Boris Yeltsin failed to bring some laws to the Duma, but Vladimir Putin has succeeded. It is not so much important now whether a law is good or bad, what is more important is presidential support of the law. The Duma of the previous convocation was famous for its vivid personalities, people with their own opinions and points of view; we observed polemics of a quite different nature. Today’s Duma lacks it.
President Putin is in a complicated situation now. It is easy to be trusted in Russia, as the people are extremely trusting here. Against the background of the ex-president, an aged man, the new president who is fond of skiing and other sports looks very attractive. The people voted for him of their own free will. However, we are in for communal and housing reform now. Oil, gas, and energy prices have increased, and the nice expectations of the people will come to naught.
Boris Berezovsky relies on these facts now: he expects the living standard to drop after the introduction of 100% payment for public utilities and the government and the president will lose the people’s trust. Then, he will put a candidate of his own on the presidential post. If Vladimir Putin wants to be a president, he is to have a strong character.
- Does the president understand that he may be dethroned?
The defense minister, officials in the Ministry for Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Bureau are the president’s followers. However, the organizations differ from the structures they used to be. When I think about the quantity of powers in Russia, I say that there are as many powers as many cabinets we have. As for the question about an actual prime minister in Russia, I still fail to answer it.
- Do you mean Russia is about to have a catastrophe?
No. Read books by Karamzin. Russia is experiencing the ninth uneasy period. Each period of this kind usually lasted for 8-10 years in Russia. The uneasy period is coming to its end now; soon, we will be on a rise again. We are also to get rid of the hands that hamper the rise. Those are the hands situated outside Russia.
- Do you mean, these are western monopolies that control everything, including migration policy as well?
Yes, that is what we have now. The “Family” is still here. Today ,General Public Prosecutor Ustinov delivered a very frank report on homeless children and juvenile delinquency. In his words, Russia has no future; we have lost everything we used to be proud of: we were the country with the most literate population and a nation with a strong sports tradition. Within a year, 200 teenagers committed different crimes. And this is the amount of only registered ones.
- Do you mean, as long as we have this legal disorder, it will be impossible to do anything at all?
I think the president, the parliament, and the government can establish order in the country together, certainly if they wish to.
Anatoly Chekhoyev was interviewed by Ilya Tarasov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/03/05/37886.html
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