Russian people no longer believe slogans
Valdaiclub.com interview with Leonid Gozman, former co-chairman of the Right Cause party
The popularity of liberal ideas began to wane in Russia in the 2000s. Can Mikhail Prokhorov’s relative success in the presidential election help to revive them?
No. The votes Prokhorov received were protest votes cast not only against Vladimir Putin but also against the current system of the government.
How popular are right-wing liberal ideas?
The trouble is that no ideas are popular now. The people do not believe that ideas can change anything. The competition of ideologies is over for now. There will now be a competition between people or between practical actions. The fight against corruption, which is so popular today, is neither left nor right.
If Prokhorov forms a party, will that change the current negative environment?
It all depends not on ideology but on the involvement of people in practical actions. There are several right-wing parties in Russia and it is difficult to say which of them will take the lead.
What can we expect from right-wing parties?
I don’t know what to expect from them, but I can tell what is effective and what is not effective. It would be effective to involve as many people as possible in constructive and active efforts to create positive change. But will the right-wing parties do this?
Will the government, if chaired by Dmitry Medvedev, pursue a liberal policy?
I don’t think that Dmitry Medvedev’s government will have a policy of its own. It will hardly pursue a policy that will be independent of Putin.
Will modernization plans be based on the ideas Putin has put forth in the policy articles published before the election?
Not necessarily. It may have nothing in common with the proclaimed ideas.
What do you think about the decision to halt state interference in the economy?
People’s mistrust is fuelled by their belief that the state is ready to say anything to win their loyalty but then will go back on its word. The people no longer believe slogans and statements because they think that the state can deceive them any day. It is not the devaluation of ideas but the devaluation of trust in those who advance ideas, especially the state.
Can new leaders with old ideas become popular?
Yes, people may trust new leaders, such as Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of the radical Left Front movement, or the blogger Navalny. Udaltsov is not a carbon copy of Zyuganov; he has acted more harshly and consistently than Zyuganov and so he is so far trusted as a new figure.
Can protest rallies influence liberalism in Russia?
The protest rallies have had no influence on liberalism. They have only strongly reaffirmed that the current system can no longer be preserved unchanged. This is what they showed. As for whether the message has reached Putin, this is quite another matter.
Protest leaders have come to the rallies with a constructive idea. Honest elections – this is the idea that has united society. Elections can either be honest or dishonest. If not, life cannot be described as normal.
What ideas will become dominant in Russia in the long term?
The most serious of them is the equality of everyone before the law.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise