YELTSIN AND PUTIN MEET
Independent Television, Segodnya, November 20, 1999, 19:00
President Boris Yeltsin has met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to discuss the results of the OSCE summit. They also paid attention to the economic situation in Russia and issues connected with the 2000 budget.
AN INTERVIEW WITH PRIME MINISTER VLADIMIR PUTIN
ORT, Analiticheskaya Programma Vremya, November 20, 1999, 21:00
The political success of the Russian president in Istanbul allows Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to carry out the government’s plan in Chechnya. Boris Yeltsin not only protected the interests of Russia, but also proved that he trusts the prime minister and the government. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin comments on the results of the OSCE summit and the current situation in Russia in an exclusive interview to ORT.
Question: Vladimir Vladimirovich, what is your appraisal of the results of the summit in Istanbul? Do you think Russia managed to avoid international isolation and a return to the Cold War?
Vladimir Putin: We signed everything we planned to sign: the Charter for European Security, a Protocol on Trust, a revised version of the Vienna Convention, and another very important document – the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty.
Q: Does the mean that the government will become more active in resolving the situation in Chechnya? You don’t intend to stop the military operation?
VP: It means the Russian government considers that political problems should be solved by political means. But when we talk about a counter-terrorist operation, not a war, in Chechnya – we mean that we are fighting international terrorism.
Q: What is the main goal of the operation in Chechnya – to force Chechen guerrillas out of the republic, to occupy Grozny, or to put the operation on hold for a while?
VP: We will not pause. The main goal of the operation is to destroy the terrorists at their bases on Russian Federation territory.
Q: But at the same time, Russia has many problems – I mean economic ones. And the counter-terrorist operation requires expenditure, which exhausts the country’s resources. Is it possible that in a month or two we will have to face such problems as non-payment of pensions, allowances, wages? I think this operation may lead to social problems within Russia.
VP: Currently we are working on the draft of the nation’s main financial document – the budget. And we have taken into consideration our additional needs for carrying out the counter-terrorist operation. We have also developed appropriate programs for economic development.
Q: You personal approval rating has reached an incredible level. Doesn’t this situation frighten you?
VP: I cannot say whether it frightens me or not. But it is a great responsibility for me, because it is connected with what the public expects of me. And I want to live up to the hopes of the Russian people. But at the same time, I am not working for the rating; I am doing my job.
PUTIN LEADS IN ALL THE POLLS
REN TV, Pyataya Kolonna, November 20, 1999, 22:30
This week the prime minister’s approval rating has reached a record level. If the presidential elections had been held this weekend, Vladimir Putin would become the Russian president. At present, 41% of Russians are ready to support him in the presidential elections. A week ago, the number of his supporters was 9% less. Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communists, was supported by 15% of respondents. Yevgeny Primakov has lost 1% of his supporters during this week, and now his personal rating is 9%.
Grigory Yavlinsky and Sergei Shougu were supported by 4% of respondents. Yury Luzhkov and Alexander Lebed collected 3%.
The poll was conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation.
It is evident that Vladimir Putin has left his opponents far behind. In the beginning, journalists explained the rise of his rating by the success of the federal forces in Chechnya. Putin was called a military prime minister. But a rating higher than 40% cannot be attributed only to the military success of the federal forces in the North Caucasus. Such a rating can be achieved if it is accompanied by a rise of economic indicators and an improvement in living standards.
Alexander Oslon, President of the Public Opinion Foundation, thinks Vladimir Putin is the politician the country has been waiting for, and this is what accounts for the rise of his rating. During last three months his rating has increased ten-fold: this is a record. Political analysts connect the rise of the prime minister’s rating with the operation in Chechnya. Pollsters have a different point of view.
Alexander Oslon: “The government discusses economic issues at each meeting. It cannot be otherwise. That is why I would not say that this rise is explained by the success in the North Caucasus.”
According to analysts, the improvements in the Russian economy will attract additional voters to Vladimir Putin. During last three months, the GDP has increased by 40 billion rubles. This was caused by the development of industry and increasing output. In 1999, the rise has reached 7-8%. Encouraging signs are being recorded in ferrous metallurgy, engineering, and the chemical industry.
Since mid-September, share prices of Russian enterprises have increased by 150%. But this encourages only professionals.
Currently Putin is supported by the former supporters of Primakov and Luzhkov. Yevgeny Primakov has managed to stay in the top three. Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov seems to have lost his electorate.
It is clear that only an inconceivable political move may save the political future of Yury Luzhkov. Putin’s rating is explained by the fact that Russian citizens look to the future with confidence.