Sergei Glazyev, leader of the Homeland faction in the new State Duma, is one of those who will run for presidency on March 14. It is generally believed that the situation of nine of the ten presidential candidates is very strange. One of the ten is Vladimir Putin, whom all opinion polls promise victory in the first round. Hence, the other nine aspirants are only playing the role of extras to the star actor.
However, "the country has a choice," says Sergei Glazyev, the rising star of the left-wing opposition. The people still have time to reject the policy of the current leadership. Glazyev does not view the presidential race as a lost cause, but neither has he said why he is running if Putin will win anyway. It appears that Glazyev plans to use the campaign to promote his party, his programme and himself, thus accumulating political capital for 2008, when Vladimir Putin will leave the post to anyone who dares to claim it.
Analysts believe that Glazyev's Homeland bloc won the December 7 elections thanks to one idea - that Russian oligarchs (the exporters of oil, gas, metals and diamonds) prosper thanks to their use of the country's natural resources. The oligarchs, Glazyev tells the people, are exploiting Russia's mineral wealth that belongs to the entire nation by definition, putting huge profits into their coffers. The withdrawal of super-profits should be stepped up, as this will add $30 billion to the federal budget.
Other prominent Russian economists dispute this figure, along with the idea that the oligarchs embezzle the material benefits of the natural resources. The oil companies, they say, pay not just ordinary taxes to the budget but also a special tax on the use of natural resources, as well as an export duty that grows depending on the situation on the world oil market.
Vladimir Putin, during a direct television link-up with the people on December 18, said that the government would increase the collection of super-profits gradually and carefully, so as not to damage the oil industry, which the president compared to a goose laying golden eggs. The largest possible addition to the budget would be $3 billion, which is ten times smaller than Glazyev promises. But a considerable part of Russian electorate likes Glazyev's thinking and figures more.
The economic programme of Sergei Glazyev's presidential campaign is completely opposite to the policy of the government and President Putin. Glazyev rejects nearly everything the government is doing. "There is still time to implement a reasonable programme that will revive the economy and prevent a disaster," he says. The idea of that programme can be gleaned from two draft laws submitted by Homeland. One stipulates a tax on super-profits and the other, responsibility of the government for living standards.
Glazyev promises economic growth based on modern technologies, doubling of the current living standards, a correct distribution of budgetary revenues, anti-trust measures, fair competition, interest-free loans for the construction of housing, a several-fold increase of social payments (child allowances, student stipends, and monetary remuneration for servicemen), and the repayment of the people's Soviet-time savings reduced to naught by price liberalisation.
Where will he get the money for this ambitious programme? The left-wing politician mentioned a "new concept of forming the budget" and apparently hopes to snatch the aforementioned $30 billion from oil companies.
The thrust of this politician makes the press and analysts think that he does not intend to wait for 2008 to start implementing his ideas. They believe that he is aiming to take the premiership after the next year's presidential elections.
Analysts also point out that after the main left-wing political force of Russia, the Communist Party (KPRF), lost the December 7 parliamentary elections and nominated a clearly weak candidate, Mikhail Kharitonov, for the presidential race, Glazyev received the chance to win over the left-wing electorate and even the KPRF.
At the very least, Sergei Glazyev apparently hopes that his participation in the presidential race will further his political career.