No dialogue between power and society – think-tank

An areal view shows crowds gathering at Bolotnaya Sqare during an opposition protest action against the alleged mass fraud in the December 4 parliamentary polls in central Moscow, on December 10, 2011. (AFP Photo/Ridus/Dmitry Chistoprudov)
A year after the beginning of mass protests in Russia, there is still no dialogue between the government and society which may deepen the crisis of trust, warns the Committee for Civil Initiatives.

The level of the dialogue has only been decreasing after mass demonstrations that took place after the State Duma poll, the committee stated.

Neither the March presidential vote, nor the October regional elections led to “consolidation of society, or stabilization of the political processes.” As a result of that, there is less trust in elections. At the same time, the number of people who consider “extreme scenarios” to change the situation has slightly grown, the Committee observed.

The think-tank established by ousted Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin published a report called “2012: We and our common risks.” The authors of the document summed up the results of the protest movement in the country, and criticized the government for its “imitational policy.”

Instead of developing new principles, the Russian leadership attempts “to restore a former, outlived model of relations with society” where changes are minor or only imitated, analysts pointed out.

The government declares greater social guarantees, while there is no finance to provide them – “at least given current budget priorities.”

Authorities set minorities involved in protest in opposition to a “passive majority” of the population, the report states. The majority is promised stability and told “chillers” about “intrigues of crafty enemies.” All that is combined with obvious strengthening of clericalism, the experts note.

Meanwhile, the minority get arrested and tougher legislation – such as the anti-rally law, criminal liability for libel and the law labeling politically active NGOs funded from abroad as “foreign agents.”

“Protesters still lack clear leaders, an extensive program of activities and experience in a productive political race," the Committee says in its report, adding that it is the government that should be blamed for that. The power continues to shut the door “to practical politics” for active and non-indifferent people who care about public interests, experts state.

The authors of the study believe that the government should suggest “a fair and comprehensive strategy of social-economic development.” In addition, measures must be taken to speed up the process of rotation of the elite and develop competition at elections.

Meanwhile, the authorities have repeatedly voiced their readiness for the dialogue with opposition, stressing though that any political stances should be expressed within the framework of law.

“The desire for changes is naturally a force for progress, but it becomes counterproductive if it leads to the destruction of civil peace and the state as a whole,” President Vladimir Putin said earlier. Speaking at St Pete’s economic forum in June he stressed that “a democratic political system should guarantee not only the legitimacy of the power, but also the confidence in its fair character.” Observing the interests of the majority, the state, at the same time, should provide rights of the minority, Putin underlined.

Kudrin launched the Civil Initiatives Committee in April, saying the goal of the new foundation would be “to openly oppose the authorities.”He had been Russian Finance Minister for 11 years. In September 2011, the then-President Dmitry Medvedev fired Kudrin in a disagreement with him over budgetary issues. Known to be a Putin ally, he participated in post-election rallies in December last year.