Communists' Economic Platform Cut in Liberal Language
May. 25, 1996
MOSCOW (AP) _ In a long-awaited economic platform leaked to a newspaper Friday, Russia's Communists say they favor protectionist trade policies and greater state regulation of the economy.
But they won't infringe on private property or investors' rights, or try to freeze prices, according to the platform, published in Saturday editions of the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
The newspaper published what it called the definitive version of Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov's economic platform, saying the document is likely to be published officially within several days.
Zyuganov is the chief rival of President Boris Yeltsin in June 16 presidential elections. He has been trying to reach more moderate and undecided voters, and the platform published Saturday had little relation to Soviet-style, Marxist economics.
The full-page report starts by blasting Yeltsin's free-market reforms, saying they put Russia on ``the verge of social explosion.''
``A change in economic policies or a national catastrophe _ that's the choice,'' it says.
The platform accuses Yeltsin's government of aimlessly borrowing from the International Monetary Fund and other lenders, ``surrendering our independence and the right to manage our own home.''
It suggests that Russia close its domestic market to foreign imports, subsidize the fuel and transportation industries to revive production in other industries, and heavily support agriculture.
It also calls for support of high-tech industries and large subsidies to science.
The document argues for more state regulation of prices, but doesn't call for the restoration of all-embracing, Soviet-style price controls. The platform calls for cutting taxes to spur production, and even argues for faster devaluation of the ruble to keep pace with inflation.
It is also generous on promises for foreign investors, saying Russia should imitate China, trying to lure private investment instead of borrowing from international lenders.
``We must create conditions for foreign businessmen, give them guarantees, as they do everywhere in the world,'' it said, adding that foreign investors should be offered better legal protection as well.
Among other specific proposals for raising the state revenues needed for larger subsidies, the Communists call for tougher controls on capital flight and a strengthening of the state alcohol monopoly.
Nezavisimaya Gazeta commentators said Zyuganov had ``practically nothing left from the Marxist doctrine in his platform,'' and the document resembled Western concepts of economic growth dating from the 1950s and 1960s.
But they said the program was suspiciously vague on private property, which the Communists say could exist alongside state ownership.
Zyuganov has tried to cut a liberal image, but many other Communist leaders have spoken in favor of returning to a Soviet-style centralized economy.
Successfully playing on public fears of a Communist crackdown on private property and economic freedoms, Yeltsin has overtaken Zyuganov in many polls.
In a bid to reverse the trend, Zyuganov earlier this week called on his team to avoid ``scary words.''