My Goal Is to Lay Down My Conditions

Article excerpt

Interview with Ella Pamfilova

Demokratizatsiya: How could you describe the situation in the Russian ruling elite which we call the "Party of Power."

Pamfilova: I would say it is a so-called Party of Power because if you take Zyuganov, Kuptsov, Maslyukov, and other members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Soviet government on the one hand, and Chernomyrdin and the members of the Russian government on the other, there are many more commonalities than there are differences. That is why we see such strong support for Chernomyrdin personally, his government, and his budget, from the opposition. In principle, it's not two different wings, but two sides of one coin, with the same roots. This is why Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov are, for them, absolutely a strange organism. This is why the opposition always blames them for mistakes in the government's work.

At the same time, we can see inside the Party of Power the process of shaping a third force--or better to say third forces. They are absolutely different, and it is absolutely unpredictable who will unite with whom. Already by the end of 1997 we can begin to see the genesis of absolutely unbelievable combinations. Of course, they will form under different circumstances, including the health of the president. Today it is easier to name those who do not want to be the Russian president.

Demokratizatsiya: Do you personally want to be president?

Pamfilova: It's a difficult question; I don't want to answer. If I say "yes," it would not be completely true. If I say "no," nobody will believe me. For me, the goal to get the position is not important. No power just for power's sake. It has happened very often that a person gets power but in the end they don't know what to do with it. My goal is to obtain such political power that, under different circumstances and in any situations, I would be able to, let's say it rudely and cynically, to barter and to lay down my conditions. This means that I would like to be able to do what I believe is necessary at this time in Russia. The goal for me is not opposition. The goal for me is the ability to do whatever I think is necessary.

Now the new presidential campaign has begun, and each politician is analyzing all of his possible competitors; with whom it could be possible to unite, and with whom, impossible. There is now a heated search for partners. And paradoxically, as future candidates are more similar, more like one another, have more common positions and programs, and as the voters see them more as similar, then there will be more friction between them. They are competing for the same social groups. I am absolutely sure that Grigory Yavlinsky and Boris Nemtsov will never be united, because Nemtsov is going after exactly the same voter as Yavlinsky. It also looks like there is a lot in common between Alexander Lebed and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. But I don't think they will be able to unite, because their programs overlap one another. This is why political unions can be very whimsical.

Of course, you cannot ignore the possibility that some dark horse, whose role was foreseen in analytical centers by experts, and whom one of the main candidates will try to use for his own purposes, will suddenly get his own ambitions and thoughts and try to act independently.

Demokratizatsiya: In your opinion, which of the scenarios of the future Russian political evolution is the most desirable?

Pamfilova: The most desirable among the realistic scenarios, it seems to me, is that our political elite will finally realize how serious the situation in Russia is and will find some common ground, on the basis not necessarily of national interests but at least state interests. And on this basis we can built what Gorbachev used to say in his time "some kind of consensus." It should be common understanding that we have to cooperate with each other. At the same time, we have to realize clearly which political spot each of the political parties and movements occupies. …