Magazine article Russian Life

Russian Citizens on the December 12 Election Results

Magazine article Russian Life

Russian Citizens on the December 12 Election Results

Article excerpt

The extraordinary elections held in Russia on December 12 brought Russia a new parliament. At the same time, a national constitutional referendum was held, which approved the new Constitution. RUSSIAN LIFE correspondent Igor Konstantinov asked Moscow residents and visitors about their attitudes toward the outcome of the elections and the referendum.

Lev Yelisov Lecturer at the Institute of Civil Aviation Engineers:

It's clear that we needed a new constitution, and it's a positive fact that this one was approved by a majority of the votes. A state cannot exist without a constitution, and there should be one for every new period. Times have changed here. Old laws can no longer be adapted to the modern economic conditions. The public psychology has changed, too, and the people cannot be prodded back into the past.

It's much more difficult to assess the results of the parliamentary elections. I am not happy about them. I am not pleased that the reformers in the government, who rallied around Yegor Gaidar in the Russia's Choice bloc, received so few votes. It might seem that I should be blaming them for our problems, because science, culture, and education, which I represent, are now in such a dismal state. No one wants to allocate money for their development. Intellectuals and artists receive beggarly salaries, with very few exceptions. But my colleagues at the institute and I believe that the situation will not change if the reforms fail. History shows that the Russian intelligentsia has suffered under all regimes.

Ivan Ivanovich Pensioner:

The new Constitution is bad. The old one guaranteed us the right to work, rest and recreation, and housing. The new Constitution doesn't even guarantee us a higher education. Are we to become illiterate? |The question of education, as many experts point out, is formulated quite awkwardly indeed in the new Constitution -- Author.~

I am a retired construction worker, and I voted for Yeltsin, a builder by profession, in the presidential elections. I hoped that he would improve the life of the common people. But now I see that he's failed at the job of state construction. He promised us that the new Constitution would fix everything. I read the draft Constitution and tore it up in disgust. It speaks mostly about presidential powers -- everything else is basically generalizations.

The ministers who asked us to vote for them at the latest elections didn't do us much good, either. What has been their main achievement in their two years in power? Skyrocketing prices. My house might begin falling apart soon, and how can I afford to repair it? What will I be able to buy on my pension -- a dozen bricks or so? Forgive me if I sound harsh, but it's all so painful!

Yelena Tarasova Translator:

Five years ago, during Gorbachev's perestroika, I took an active interest in politics, like most people, probably. It was like a gulp of fresh air; before that, our leaders had deprived us of the right to express our opinion. In the late 1980s we went to all the democratic rallies and voted in all kinds of elections -- I lost track of them all.

I have two children now, and I cannot waste my spare time, of which I am catastrophically short, on going to the polling station. So I didn't vote in the last elections. But that doesn't mean that I don't know anything about the political situation. I've heard a lot -- mostly positive things -- about the new Constitution over the radio and on television. As for the old Constitution, I've forgotten what was in it.

Galina Safonova Head of the public relations department at a public organization:

I voted because I am a socially active person and cannot just wait for something to happen or let others make my decisions for me. I was stunned by the election results. The leader among the party blocs was Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, which has come very close to fascism. And yet everybody remains so calm! …

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