In may 1991, launched the first in Russia’s history, the campaign for popular election of the President. For the first time, a debate took place, which was opened for the citizens of new names such as Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Aman Tuleyev. But the main contenders for the post of President of the RSFSR were a rebel, reformer Boris Yeltsin and a very balanced and knowledgeable economy, former Prime Minister of the USSR Nikolai Ryzhkov. Now many say that if he won, the story could have gone differently (without shock therapy “dashing the ninetieth”). Ryzhkov then took second place, and is now a Senator. “MK” talked to him about the historical pathos of the election and the reason for his defeat.
photo: Dmitry Rozhkov
— You personally disappointed second place in presidential elections or were you ready to lose?
— Of course, any person who goes to the polls, is weighing his chances. And I knew that not going to win over Yeltsin. Did not know just what the score will be that his victory. To win he had at the time was impossible for several reasons, about them I’m ready to tell. But the elections themselves are a model who would do well to follow today. They passed the crystal-honestly — the administrative resource wasn’t working. Yes, I have it already and not there: I ceased to be head of Government of the Soviet Union before they began…
— But you were no less popular man than Yeltsin. You are the Prime Minister, who in army boots went to Spitak and was seen as the chief rescuer of the country, but then also suffered from the authorities, when after a heart attack has ceased to be Prime Minister…
— We have with Yeltsin was different popularity. I knew him for a very long time, since 1968, we are one city. We one graduated from the Institute in Sverdlovsk, only he’s a Builder and I’m a mechanic. He built a house, did it at a record pace, and we at Uralmash built houses themselves. The quality was better. When Boris headed the regional Committee (he became the head region. — AVT.), we had to communicate a lot. And already in Moscow we were having a normal relationship. Although I already knew his quirks: he loved to show exciting behaviour. Yeltsin kind of person. He, though a Builder, was extremely strong in destruction. We must pay tribute to his rare talent to rock any structure. All his energy was aimed at the destruction of something sustainable. Becoming the first person of area, there’s a lot of he broke up and left. He distinguished himself in the destruction of the Soviet Union, but as the Creator of new Russia itself, in my opinion, is not shown. Yeltsin almost didn’t understand the economy, but this did not prevent him torn to power, stopping at nothing. He loved the power, loved to do the changes without thinking about their consequences. And his energy of destruction in the period of historical choice was higher than my energy of creation. I recently did a lot of thinking: if we knew that Yeltsin for the sake of unlimited power in the Russian Federation will destroy the Soviet Union, then to hell with it — I had to give him power over the whole of the USSR instead of Gorbachev. Let him amuse. But then he the Union would not be destroyed.
Nikolai Ryzhkov: “I went to these polls to tell where they will lead Yeltsin”.
— And after all, what other reason, other than his indomitable energy, were that Yeltsin defeated you?
— Yeltsin was obliged to beat me. The Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dramatically lose your credibility. Getting the better attitude abroad — “hump-hump” it, the worse it was in our country. Gorbachev gradually became hated. And Yeltsin in Russia was perceived as an alternative to it. I during elections of the first President has not been associated with Gorbachev, but I retired from the Federal government just six months before the election of the head of the RSFSR. And I still was perceived as the second person after Gorbachev, I have docked with it. Although still two years before the election, I became the chief opponent of Gorbachev. I argued with him, but just don’t advertise it, didn’t drag these things to the General public. Never been published, that Ryzhkov and Gorbachev differences. And from the government, I left not with the revolutionary fervor, and I was taken with a heart attack. The majority of voters thought that Gorbachev and I are a team. And Boris has made his dispute with Gorbachev his banner. So I would have won the election of Gorbachev, but Yeltsin could not.
— Why do you then go to the polls against Yeltsin, if I knew in advance that lose?
— I perfectly understand why you go. I wanted to tell people that Yeltsin and his team fooled the people. They are promised Paradise after 500 days. And people always believe in the beautiful tales. Had someone try to explain to them that through these 500 days will only get worse. That people only lose. Although I did not even imagined then how much they will lose.
After some time I was walking down the street with his wife. I’m a simple retiree in a nondescript jacket. And I know an elderly woman. Fits, asks: “Nikolai, is that you? Well, why do you then persuaded to vote for you?!”. Well what could I say? I was convinced as I could, but you were listening to the other person. Who said that will give you the goods and butter you will ride. The people believed his demagoguery, then regretted.
— I didn’t say that. History has no subjunctive mood. I have tried to go the other way, but this way we didn’t go.
But Yeltsin went his own way. And I voted for it this way a huge number of our people. Not only intellectuals, desirous of change, but also simple people, who must be tired of the Soviet regime. And the argument of the Soviet government, like free healthcare or free housing, it seemed insufficient. Voters thought it needless to say never and not going anywhere.
photo: Archive MK
Yeltsin and his team did what they could. Mainly his team. Yeltsin sober (pardon the oxymoron) evaluated their brains. He was a symbol of renewal, and his team tried to create reforms. Sometimes after some striking statements Yeltsin will utter the obvious stupidity, his aides said, “Shut up. We told you: don’t say anything, sit down and make a smart appearance. You flag, not the mouthpiece”.
He was elected as a symbol of renewal. He went against the Communist party, the Union government, and it was perceived as a feat.
In my eyes I told Yeltsin when he was President, but became President of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR and has already gained tremendous power in the Republic: “what are you doing? You are destroying the country”. He smiled and answered through his lip: “We (the Federation) will no longer pay taxes to the Union budget”. This conversation was back in November of 1990, I was then headed by the Federal government. I say in horror: “You’re crazy, if the Republic will cease to pay taxes to the Union budget, it is the end of the Union. But part of the RSFSR also 15 Autonomous republics. If they will follow suit and stop paying taxes to the Russian budget, what will you do?”
He replied that he will not allow it. Well, history has shown that it is not allowed. The Union collapsed, and Russia — no. Although Russian is it ended in Chechnya.
I went to the presidential election because he knew: Yeltsin leads to the disintegration of the Union and it will be all bad. My main task was to use time on TV and pre-election meetings with workers to explain where Yeltsin. To warn you that this will end badly, to inform people that they can expect.
— You are versed in the economy, as Prime Minister, knew everything about the country. Yeltsin was weaker. You have no desire after his victory just out of Patriotic considerations to infiltrate its command to minimize the damage of citizens from the shock therapy?
— Once there was a chance. When the Prime Minister was Viktor Chernomyrdin, he called me. He’s in my government Minister was. By the way, not the strongest. He knew his industry, “valve” was well known, and the overall economy — not so much. Very narrow specialist. When he became Prime Minister, I congratulated him with getting the hardest of the clip. To join his government, I refused as to receive a single ruble for it. But I asked him to set up an expert Council under the government, which will consist of first-class professionals, thinking people, and will advise the Prime Minister and his Ministers on a Pro Bono basis. This command I had about 30 people. Now we have all the expert advices, it has become the norm, but then Chernomyrdin idea is not realized. He said that we then discuss this question, and didn’t call again. Discussing still in the other world.
— How do you assess the fact of the first in our history of popular election of the President?
You know, I was against the election of the Congress of people’s deputies of the RSFSR. It is only one Republic of all 15 Soviet republics held such a Congress. I thought this is dangerous. In the end, the Congress has chosen Chairman of the Supreme Council Boris Yeltsin. Russia became a parliamentary Republic, which adopted the Declaration of independence and stated that more accountable to no one.
I was against the election of the first Congress of people’s deputies of the USSR. Especially when it became clear that Gorbachev plans to improve the Constitution and declare Congress the highest organ of state power in the Soviet Union. I said to Gorbachev: we’re having a booth, we give a platform 2250 thousands of people don’t even know. And as they as the highest authority will direct us? I figured that we to such a wide parliamentarism is not yet ready, the restructuring is still too young. I had a feeling that this body is not healthy, no document will not accept, and will rally the destructive power. And this rally day and night were televised. Indeed, from the rostrum of this Congress sounded devastating calls. MPs from the Baltic countries expressed the desire for their republics to secede from the USSR. This at first seemed like a crazy joke, but it turned out the bitter truth.
Elections of the President of Russia is considered unique in history, which took place without fraud.
And when all this has happened, the elections of the President of the RSFSR looked quite organically. Otherwise, I would not have became involved.
Presidential elections in Russia, I evaluate positively. It was a step forward, since we still have other country, it was necessary to demonstrate, from the point of view of democratic procedures. Of course, a quarter of a century ago, it was a lot of naivety, democratic romanticism. It was my childhood. But, in principle, to go to the democratic election of the President was necessary. It was a step forward.
We was already President of the USSR. But he was appointed by the Parliament. Gorbachev could not go on the direct election of the President, because the country is beginning to dive and the popularly elected would be anyone but him.
Presidential elections in Russia were a big step forward. It was the first candidates debate on television. We were seated at the same table, and we expressed to each other a lot of bad. There is much talk about the fact that a full debate should be revived. Thanks to the debate a quarter of a century ago people believed in fair elections. Elections were really honest, without dirty technologies, they have infused societies with romance legitimate and not a behind-the-scenes political struggle. But in fact the elections of that year makes little difference. Yeltsin, even without being President, and as Chairman of the Supreme Council of Russia, and so was the rightful “king of Russia”.
— Why did you leave the chairmen of the Government of the USSR?
By December 1990, I understood that the country is heading down. And the government do nothing can not, because Gorbachev decided directly subordinate to Parliament of Ministers of the USSR, which turned into a meaningless rally. And while there was already a quite substantial rally is the Parliament of Russia headed by Boris. The country has developed a triangle: Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Ryzhkov. We somehow kept the balance of power. But the guys Yeltsin has directed all its arrows at me, digging day and night that the Federal government is bad. I’m in this situation already nothing could do. It was necessary to change something: either to force Gorbachev to be active and to rein in Yeltsin and other natural reformers, or to leave myself. I met with Gorbachev sometimes three times a day, but to solve any economic problems could not. And during another meeting, I said that he is ready to resign as Prime Minister of the USSR, because it is impossible to work, the country is falling apart, becomes unmanageable, and I can’t do anything. “As long as I could — I fought. But now you need to show some will,” I said Gorbachev. I was not going to have to leave, I expected to hear some response from him. But it seems to me, even too happy about my speech. My leaving not even began to discuss, began to discuss who to keep instead of me and what time I will finish to the appointment of a new Prime Minister.
I told Gorbachev that after I leave he is left alone with Yeltsin’s team: “They eat”. “Well, you are, as always, thicken,” — said Gorbachev. I ceased to be the head of the USSR Government on 25 December and exactly one year later, Gorbachev announced that he is no longer President of the Soviet Union. The flag of this state was launched.
But in between these events I tried to give a last fight to his countryman, Boris, at the first presidential elections in Russia.
— Your campaign for the presidency of the Federation was an act of support for Gorbachev or revenge?
— I knew where we were going, saw that Gorbachev — a political impotent. And what is the point of it continue to support? And I realized that the destructive energy of Yeltsin have at least something to oppose. It was my protest against the destruction of the USSR.
— You are now chatting with his former competitors in the first presidential elections, and whether it evokes nostalgic feelings?
— We have very good relations with Tuleyev. Zhirinovsky — a peculiar people, but we work with him. Yeltsin, while he was alive, we saw each other rarely, as with Gorbachev. Nostalgia for the elections there, it was just an important stage for the country and each of us, but there is no heartburn on each other.Related posts: