An interview with Lyubov Sliska of the Duma.Question: Politicians come up with all sorts of scare tactics nowadays. Director of the Presidential Administration Dmitry Medvedev speaks of the forthcoming disintegration of the country, Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov of a social explosion, and political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky of the threat of fascism. Have we approached the red line indeed?

Lyubov Sliska: I do not think that we have. To tell you the truth, political scientists themselves create all these threats. Either aware of their own helplessness or eager to attract attention to themselves, but all of a sudden they start saying that there exists a threat to the country.

As I see it, no threats pose a real danger whenever the people trust the authorities and support what the authorities are doing.

I support Medvedev’s idea that we need consolidation of the elites. Before consolidating them, however, we should decide around what and around whom they are uniting. And for the sake of what. The goal should be clear.

For over four years already the government has been talking of some strategic program of reforms, but even now we do not know what the program is. Duma deputies do not understand the economic program of the country!

Question: Perhaps, United Russia should work out the program?

Lyubov Sliska: I suspect that this is what is going to happen soon. We’ve been waiting for too long. The former government never came up with the program, and this government is making the same old mistakes too. The country still depends on oil export.

Question: Will appearance of the program mean that United Russia seriously aspires for the privilege of forming the government?

Lyubov Sliska: That’s what I reckon.

Question: When shall we expect it?

Lyubov Sliska: As I see it, this government will not last until the 2007 parliamentary election. Some ministers will have to go.

Question: Why is it that United Russia never criticizes the president? Is he beyond criticism? Or is it that he never makes mistakes?

Lyubov Sliska: The president has shouldered all responsibility. He even apologizes for others’ mistakes. But it is surely wrong to place all the burden on the president alone. What do we have the government for then, if it is the president who is responsible for everything?

Question: United Russia should have insisted then on some resignations in he government, no?

Lyubov Sliska: We have never demanded resignation of the whole Cabinet. As for me, I insisted on Mr. Zurabov’s resignation. I still insist, you know.

I do not rule out the possibility that the president himself will decide to make some staff decisions soon.

Question: But why would not the party speak up on the matter, not even within the framework of debates in the Duma itself?

Lyubov Sliska: Well, I expressed my opinion then, and I cannot very well be held responsible for all of the party. I’m not confident at all that the government will not make similar mistakes again. How many chances are we supposed to give the government – only to see it make the same mistakes over and over again?

Had the government been comprised of United Russia representatives at least by 50%, it would have never happened. I hope that we will have a government of the parliamentary majority after 2007.

Question: How would you evaluate relations between United Russia and the Presidential Administration?

Lyubov Sliska: They are quite constructive.

Question: There are rumors that it was Vladislav Surkov himself who asked you to stop being so critical of the government…

Lyubov Sliska: No. Surkov did attend our meetings. He said that the president knew of the difficulties that cropped up in implementation of the monetization law. He promised to tell the president of the opinions aired at the meetings, but that was all. No pressure was applied.

Question: What do you think of Surkov himself and the role he is playing? After all, the man has been in charge of domestic policy for the last six years.

Lyubov Sliska: I’m not at all convinced that absolutely everything is up to Surkov. Gifted man that he is, it would have been nice to have Surkov enjoy more freedom in implementation of his interesting plans. Moreover, had there been more men like Surkov in the Presidential Administration, I dare say the strategy and the tactic would have been different.

Question: What do you think of the speculations over establishment of the so called right wing in United Russia?

Lyubov Sliska: I’ve been hearing them for years… Somebody must be longing for right liberal values, that’s all.

I’d say that 100-150 people may be found in United Russia for such a wing. In any case, if it is a child that makes its parents happy, then why not?

Question: United Russia presents itself as the party of the president. What will happen to it when Putin is no longer head of state?

Lyubov Sliska: Why do you think that ideology of United Russia boils down to support of a certain individual? Had it been so, we’d have been called Unity for Putin or Putin’s Unity or something. But we are United Russia. Yes, we welcomed Putin’s election as president. We backed his reforms and back them now. United Russia will certainly back the new president’s policy aimed at establishment of a monolithic and strong country. On the other hand, we will not permit the government the sloppiness with which implementation of Law No 122 was accompanied. The people will understand that the reforms under way in the country are being implemented in their own interests. They will certainly vote for continuation of the course of United Russia.

Question: A lot of politicians air their views on Putin’s political future…

Lyubov Sliska: Why worry about it now? He has three years to go yet.

Question: But some politicians already claim readiness to run for president.

Lyubov Sliska: They are too early. They will certainly have their wings clipped yet long before 2008.