Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 14

Russia’s center-right political coalition–which features such luminaries as Boris Nemtsov, Anatoly Chubais and Yegor Gaidar–announced yesterday that it will call itself Pravoe Delo (Right Cause). During a meeting of the coalition’s organizational committee, Nemtsov, who also heads his own movement (“Young Russia”), launched into a critique of both the Primakov government and Luzhkov’s Otechestvo.

Speaking against the government, Nemtsov pointed to “the absence of clear… rules for restructuring banks” and the government’s decision to lower taxes which are easily collected, such as the value-added tax. The International Monetary Fund has sharply attacked Russia’s cut in the VAT from 20 to 15 percent. Nemtsov said it was “shameful” that the Kremlin had asked Washington for humanitarian aid, saying it “sharply weakens Russia’s position not only in bilateral relations with the United States, but also in world politics in general.” Gaidar, for his part, said that the Primakov government’s budget will mean a ruble-dollar exchange rate of around 40-1 in the best case scenario, but that it could lead to a rate of 200-1 (Russian agencies, January 20). As for Luzhkov’s Otechestvo, Nemtsov called it “a party of the Russian bureaucracy and nomenklatura,” and compared it with Viktor Chernomyrdin’s Russia is Our Home.

Luzhkov, meanwhile, launched his latest attack on Chernomyrdin’s and Kirienko’s governments, along with the “radical reformers” who served them–meaning Chubais, Nemtsov et al. Luzhkov claimed that, under Chernomyrdin, Russia had wasted US$45 billion in pursuing an economic doctrine “based on the principles of monetarism,” which had stifled the “real sector” of the economy. Luzhkov criticized Kirienko for declaring a moratorium on the payment of debts owed by commercial banks–a decision Kirienko made last August simultaneously with his announcement of a de facto ruble devaluation and a freezing of Treasury bill operations. Luzhkov said that the banks were doing quite well before the crash and that there was no reason for the state to take on their obligations (Russian agencies, January 20).