For more on the theme of hope for the future, euronews spoke to a former prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, now a leader in the opposition – also a co-founder of the People’s Freedom Party. This party was not permitted to take part in these elections. The Justice Ministry cited procedural grounds.
Marina Ostrovskaya, euronews: Mr Kasyanov, what can your party offer the people of Russia? What you oppose is clearer than what you plan to build in place of what you destroy.
Mikhail Kasyanov: We are not talking about destroying things. Our party has a very clear programme. We are centre-right, liberal conservatives, if you like. That is our ideology. Our foremost values are based on the supremacy of human rights and political freedom. We propose a state-regulated market economy in which the state is excluded from involvement. We would like to lead our country towards a democratic state with a market economy in which civil rights and political freedom are the highest priority. This is exactly what a united Europe has today, and that is our strategic goal.
euronews: As an economist and former finance minister during the end of the 1990s, you are warning about a worsening economic situation in Russia, if the political structure does not change.
Kasyanov: That’s true, and the main reason is that, from 2005 onwards, no reforms were carried out in Russia. And yet our country needs reforms! There has been no diversification of sources of economic growth. The country depends more and more on external factors, particularly the price of oil and gas. Today there is no investment as the most important source of growth. There is no growth in domestic demand to drive it. That is why dependence and vulnerability are increasing. Of course, while the price of oil remains high, the country’s finances stay normal.
euronews: You are against the current political system, in spite of having worked within it as the prime minister of Russia from 2000 to 2004. What is behind your going over to the opposition?
Kasyanov: When I was the head of government, Russia was moving in the right direction. Yes, there were some mistakes made by President Putin at that time, and yes, I am partly to blame for realising it and doing nothing, but nevertheless, there were also serious achievements. The country was on a stable economic growth trajectory and that was the most important thing. People’s income was rising by 15% per year. But in 2005, after the Beslan tragedy, the pressure on the opposition began. The whole political space was compressed, and this resulted in a huge gap between power and public opinion. Since then the situation has, of course, become worse. It was a drastic turn. That change became the main reason I returned to politics, this time as an opposition politician.