Sergei Stankevich (Inter-regional Deputies), 1990

Moscow, Sept 28, 1990 [about the Inter-Regional Group of Deputies, apparently]
Interviewer: Gwynne Dyer

They are talking about whether the organization that he belongs to represents an attempt to introduce a multi-party system to the country. He says, no, that’s not what it is.

Stankevich: We would like to introduce more chances for our citizens to create more organizations, including political parties, but we cannot legislate the creation of a multi-party system. I am a member of the committee on law, legislation, and justice but I don’t want to talk much about it yet because it is still in process.

Reporter: How does it work? There are 390 deputies. That’s a lot of people to coordinate. How do they do it?

Stankevich: We have a coordinating committee of twenty for the Inter-regional Committee and 5 co-chairs, Sakharov, Gavril Popov, Boris Yeltsin, Yury Afanasyef, and himself. They have been elected. They plan to run candidates for the Supreme Soviet of Russia.

Dyer, You may not be a political party, but you operate the way I think of parties as operating. How can you gauge what is permissible?

Stankevich : We should be radical in our aims but moderate in our means, so I prefer an incremental approach. So far it has worked; we haven’t been stopped.

. . . . . .

He is talking about how they have hired some guy to handle the dispute with the Azeris. The central committee cannot handle this, it should be done by the Supreme Soviet.

Dyer: Is this part of the revolution?

Stankevich : Yes, the party should just be a party, and the transfer of power should be toward the soviets — in this case the Supreme Soviet. The only way that people should have access to power is through elections and not just through being in the party.

Someone asks how the Interregional Group thinks about private property.

Stankevich says there should be private property, among other kinds of property. “We would like to put all forms of property, including private property, into conditions of competition.”

He was recently in the Donbass coal mines talking with miners. He invited them to send representatives directly to meet with his committee on law and justice and they are working on legislation regarding strikes.

Dyer asks him about Shmelyov’s proposal for using credit to fill the stores. An alternative, S. says, would be a total wage and price freeze.

Someone talks about Hungary and others in the WTO.

Stankevich : Says he hopes they will be able to negotiate an end to both the WTO and NATO simultaneously.

Someone asks about the freedom of the press.

Stankevich says they just had a meeting on that between two committees, the ctte on law and justice, and the ctte on glasnost and they have a final version of a bill on freedom of the press. He wants a complete abolition of censorship in this country. Censorship to be forbidden and punished. He advocates a guarantee of supplies of paper, etc. because even if you don’t have censorship, it is even worse if you can’t get supplies. Others supported him on this. He proposed to introduce some anti-monopoly articles. This evening we shall have a meeting with some people who are advocates of alternative TV in this country.

We will support an all-union conference of alternative groups, which will be held in Chelyabinsk.

Stankevich doesn’t like for the group to call itself an opposition group. We have a lot of rhetoric but we have too few draft bills. We should use language of bills, not the language of slogans. We should not proclaim ourselves as opposition unless we have opposition to perestroika. But we not in opposition to perestroika. They are just trying to move it along faster. So we are simply a parliamentary group. I cannot exclude the possibility that in the future we may proclaim ourselves as opposition but this has not come yet.

There are several lines of fission or controversy within the group but he doesn’t anticipate that they will split. We have rather strong common ground. We all advocate freedom of press, for democracy. WE have a large field of agreement, and even if we have sharp clashes, we can preserve our cohesion.

(What about political autonomy among the Baltic deputies?)

We accept the natural right that every republic has the right to secede but he doesn’t applaud the idea. We tell them we will support your constitutional rights, but while you are inside the union, you are part of a great power and if you want to leave that is okay but please take into account that if you are not part of the great power when it becomes prosperous, you will become part of Europe’s back yard. He thinks the Baltic deputies have a lot of illusions about their ability to be integrated into the common market. They have nothing to sell. Their productive capacity is far below the European level. They are looking toward Finland as a kind of model but they forgot that Finland had to pass through a long development. It is almost impossible now for them to be integrated into the Common Market as equal partners. The most responsible figures in the Baltic politics understands this. Nevertheless, the right should be guaranteed for them to become independent. And we should not use violence to stop the process of secession.

He says, the United States is another variant of state order. I know how the United States reacted to the possibility of secession in the 19th century and we should not react that way because we have a lot of things in this country and this political culture of a new type. An absolutely unique type. We have a new type of party. We have a new type of federation. But since it was adopted in the initial stage, it became part of our political tradition (I mean this right of secession) I think we should continue this tradition. We cannot drop it … The process of integration of our republics was not as voluntary as we prefer it to be, so we should not aggravate it now.

The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, by Metta Spencer, published by Lexington Books