INTERVIEW WITH VLADIMIR LYSENKO
Zlobin: What do you see as the most desirable, but at the same time realistic scenario of Russia's evolution in the near future?
Lysenko: I see now three possible variants of the development of the situation. The most optimal is that the present government in the present situation will succeed in doing something. Therefore, I believe that the best option for everyone is if this government were to get something done. Based on this, Boris Nemtsov and I are already attempting to work toward consolidating the main part of the democratic forces so as to enter the next parliamentary elections as a combined democratic bloc and not as fifteen parties, as was the case in 1995. In this situation, the main task is to correctly determine the leader of the united democratic bloc. It is not simple, because all of the democrats are so well known and loved by the people that each believes that he is the one most adored by the voters.
That is why we are now preparing to hold some kind of public elections, primaries so to speak. I think that Yavlinsky, Gaidar, Nemtsov, Pamfilova, Khakamada, and so forth should be announced here. For me, it absolutely does not matter which of them wins the primaries. The main thing is that we have a united bloc and a mutual leader and that all democrats will recognize the results of such elections. Although we have very complicated relations with him, if Grigory Yavlinsky wins the elections we will agree that he will be the leader of this bloc, and the rest of the parties will back him.
But the optimal thing is to find someone who, without arguments, can unite the whole democratic movement. Neither Yavlinsky nor Gaidar is capable of doing this. Personally, I am betting on the regional leaders, and I think that once Nemtsov has the highest ratings among the democrats in the regions, then he will be that unifying figure. If he does not collapse in the near future, if he does not ruin himself by reveling in the awareness that he is so popular and big, he has a very good chance to become the leader of the united democratic bloc. If this bloc receives 15 to 20 percent in the Duma elections, then Nemtsov has a real chance to perform very successfully in the presidential elections.
Our second possible variant is that the government will fail. Then the opposition will inevitably come to power.
Zlobin: Which opposition, exactly?
Lysenko: It will be Communist, national-patriotic, or something between them. In this respect, Russia has missed its cycle. All of the Eastern Europe countries and the former Soviet republics have already gone through it. In those countries, first the right wing won, then all kinds of left wings, Brazauskas [head of Lithuanian Communist Party] and so on, and now again the right wing. Russia has gone through all those years on a single Right wave. Therefore, a colossal responsibility rests on the party in power in Russia. So much is weighing on it now that I really do not believe that they can do anything! I think that, after all, we are fated to the fact that opposition representatives will come to power in 1999 and 2000. Therefore, it is already necessary to think, What will that opposition be like? How systematic will it be? Will the opposition turn the situation completely back? Or, like Kvasnevsky in Poland, will it play by the rules, which are already accepted in the country?
The third possible variant is an authoritarian regime. The party in power, seeing that it is not capable of preserving power in legal ways, conducts a constitutional coup d'etat, such as happened in 1993, breaks up the opposition, bans any kind of opposition parties, and establishes an authoritarian regime. Along with that, the Duma is dissolved and elections either are not conducted or are conducted according to such election law and under such violations that guarantee (as in Kazakstan, for example) a parliament that is fully controlled by the president of the country. …