Stroyev Unites With Glaziev For 2000 Vote

Last week, the upper house of the Russian parliament took one of its most politically significant measures. The Federation Council considered the question of "urgent measures to raise the state's role in regulating the market economy."

Clearly, the attempt to suggest a new economic course to the government was supervised by Federation Council Speaker Yegor Stroyev. It is generally thought that Stroyev's relation to President Boris Yeltsin and the government is better than that of State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov. Indeed, Stroyev has somehow forgotten his membership in the Communist Party and carries out more constructive policies than the Duma speaker. But at the same time, Stroyev is a far more independent political figure than Seleznyov. His ambitions are closely tied with the presidential elections of 2000.

Stroyev's economic platform is reflected in the report on regulating the economy that was prepared for the Federation Council by a working group formed on the Federation Council speaker's instructions. This group is thus something of a personal economic staff of Stroyev's.

The staff is headed by the academician Dmitry Lvov -- one of the students and comrades-in-arms of the renowned economist Sergei Glaziev -- and by Glaziev himself, who has been criticizing the government from a leftist-patriotic position. Glaziev began his political career with former prime minister Yegor Gaidar in 1991. Later, in 1993, he abruptly went over to the camp of then-vice president Alexander Rutskoi. After Rutskoi was arrested following October 1993, Glaziev became involved in the democratic party of Nikolai Travkin and in the end replaced his political boss as leader. The failure of the party at the 1995 parliamentary elections forced Glaziev to look for a new political boss. He got close to former Security Council chief Alexander Lebed. In the end, he left Lebed for Stroyev.

What exactly did the team propose to the government last week? Let's leave aside the comments on defending the domestic market and strengthening the role of the state in the economy. There is also no need to dwell on the call to revise privatization with the help of the General Prosecutor's Office -- one of the central demands of the Communists. Instead, let's turn to more concrete matters.

Concerned about internal debt, Stroyev's team proposed that the government carry out the restructuring of GKO debt. But restructuring means only stopping current payments and their deferment. It is not hard to imagine the reaction of the Russian and foreign holders of these treasury bills if such a resolution were adopted. The other proposal is to return to the practice of extending short-term Central Bank credits, which would lead to inflation. And the idea of putting capital in production is in line with the Communist proposal to print 200 to 300 trillion rubles [$35 billion to $52 billion].

It is clear that the government is not prepared to take up such recommendations, or at least not the current one. For such modifications, a change of government would be needed. Perhaps this is what Glaziev, who seems to be ready to become prime minister under any president, was counting on.

There are only two remaining questions. Did the practical Glaziev link his fate with the right person this time? And if Stroyev were to be elected, would he pick Glaziev to head the White House?

Mikhail Berger is economics editor for Izvestia.