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Oleg Shein:  The Presidential Version of the law ‘On Political Parties’ is a reactionary document

Today in the lower chamber of the Russian parliament the discussion of one of the primary bills of the current session is taking place – “On Political Parties”.  Instead of one presidential draft law “On Political Parties”, which should have been considered at the session of the State Duma on 17 January, four alternative bills have already been introduced.  As a result the Duma decided after obstinate struggle to consider all five versions.  By means of a rating vote, a base version was determined, to which amendments were to be introduced.

The presidential version of the Law “On Political Parties” in principle changes the political landscape, which had formed in the country at the beginning of the 1990s, and blocks the way to the creation of a strong workers’ party or a strong ecological party, which would have been disagreeable to the authorities.  This law will give real possibility to form a party only to big capital, which has the ability to pay for arranging luxurious sessions in Moscow, to collect signatures in an inconceivably short period of time, parties that will behave toward the authorities in a very loyal manner.  The presidential draft law envisages as well a suspension of the activity of parties without warning, as well as  the involvement of the State in those documents which the party approves, even to the extent that the state will in fact decide whether or not the activity of the party corresponds to its internal regulations, and whether or not its program corresponds to the laws of the Russian Federation.

What does the correspondence of the activity of the party to the current law mean?  We will take as an example, the Communist bloc.  Clearly, the program of any communist organization conflicts with federal law, since any communist organization will always advocate the liquidation of private property.  The constitution, however, provides for private property, and Federal laws regulate the relations between owners.  There you have the conflict.

The presidential version is in my view, a very reactionary document.  Of course it is understood, that the Duma will vote for precisely that bill on the first reading, as it favors those parties which are presently represented in the parliament.  Only shortsightedness would not permit them to see, that two of these parties have already withdrawn from the electoral field, I have in mind Yabloko (1995) and the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (1999).  And now parties, voting for the law will put themselves under the control of the state.  Therefore to us, those who put forth the alternative version, it was very important to press the discussion on the principle question of democratic party building in the country, and to show that there is an alternative to the presidential version, that in the State Duma there is not unanimous approval of the presidential version.  Remember, when it was introduced for consideration, all mass media for several days said constantly that the parliament supported the presidential version unanimously.  Well, in ordered to show the alternative, in order to demonstrate that in the presidential version the rights of the people are restricted, in order to change it in the second reading as much as possible for the better, to this end I have introduced my version.
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