ABSTRACT: Interview by Nikolaj Khramov, member of General Council of the Radical Party, in "Panorama" weekly (Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan) about the actions taken in the Soviet Union, the transnational party, the "European Home" and Kazakhstan.
(Panorama, No 13, November 1992)
The international Radical Party (further - RP) is a transnational political organization, which was founded in 1955 on the base of the left wing of the Italian Liberal Party and of the students' activists' group. Now it counts about 7 thousands members in different countries of the world - from Italy and Russia till Ivory Coast and Kyrgyzstan. The RP publishes a newspaper - The New Party (Il Partito Nuovo) - in 14 languages of the world. Abolishing of the death penalty, legalization of drugs, alternative civilian service are the basic priorities of the Radical Party.
Recently Nikolaj Khramov (Kiev) - one of the Radical activists in the CIS states - visited Kazakhstan.
- First of all I would like to say: our party is a party of an active, Gandhi-style nonviolence. Not occasionally exactly his stylized face we have chosen as our symbol. Since the first days of its existence, Radical Party has chosen the direct action's tactic. Radicals came also to the Eastern block's countries (Bulgaria, Chechoslovakia) and expressed public protests against policy of totalitarian regimes.
PANORAMA: Have such actions taken place in the Soviet Union?
- In 1986 on the Read Square in Moscow our activists delivered leaflets to defend Soviet Jewry, who fought for emigration right. At that time the first Soviet citizens have join Radical Party - Alexander Lerner, Isolda and Alexander Tufeld. Later they got their right to leave the country, and Radical Party has lost connection with them.
The first Radical militants living constantly in the Soviet Union, appeared in 1989, I was one of them. At the end of year we were already 90 and we have begin an active work...
PANORAMA: Which work concretely? You know, according materials published in The New Party, RP seams more an international human rights movement than a party...
- Actually we aren't a party in a usual sense. Although during thirty years since its founding RP was in Italy a "normal" parliamentarian party presenting during elections its own candidates on its own lists. But in 1986 on the Congress in Bologna was taken the decision not to participate in elections as their subject. RP has define itself as not only a transnational but also a trans-party political organism. It means that RP is the only political party which not only do not prohibit a double membership, but vice versa invents its members to take other memberships.
- It means that making no competition for no one national party, we have possibility to increase our aims through the deputies elected on other parties' lists. Among Radical members are more than 300 members of different parliaments, including the Kazakhstanian one: they are Mr. Konysbaev and Mr. Ertysbaev, for example. They all are either independent or elected on the lists of other parties.
PANORAMA: You did mention about aims of your party. What they are?
- First of all, we don't have the aim typical for all other parties. I mean taking the power in order to realize some social economical or ideological program. In fact we don't have such party program. We have only statute and in its short preamble our identity is defined: we are non-violent party wrestling for right of life and life of Law. RP is also a transnational, transparty, environmentalist, democratic federalist, liberal socialist, antipartocratic, antiprohibitionist party - in generally about 12-13 definition: here they are, on the membership card. Each year on the Congress this party is creating from the beginning (the membership cards are also valid only for one year). And each year the guidelines of some concrete political initiatives are embraced. Of course, we do these initiatives not alone but together with other parties and organizations which support this or that initiative. Everybody can become Radical member and - what is especially important - nobody can be expelled from the party.
PANORAMA: In this case your party is a party of tactics, not of strategy?
- I repeat: we are a party of concrete initiatives. But realizing each one, we contemplate to a main aim. This aim could be formulated by this way: creating the united international space based on Law and respecting a sovereign personality. We bring forward the motto "United States Of Europe Now" believing that the federalist proposal for Europe is the most actual today. However this is not a geographical limitation - also the states of other continents can join these "United States of Europe".
PANORAMA: This formula is enough known. Anyway, something like this defended Mikhail Gorbachev speaking about "European Home".
- Is necessary to realize, that our motto differs essentially [...] with Gorbachev's conception which signifies only economical and cultural cooperation on the continent without any intervention into the "internal affairs" of a state.
PANORAMA: Would you like to intervene?
- Sure! But only by civilized way and first of all by parliamentarian means. For example, we do now an important activity in Moldova where many parliamentarians from both banks of Dniestr have join the Radical Party. Through them we appealed to the Moldovian parliament calling to overview the non-democratic law about the language. On the other hand, we appealed to the deputies from the left bank who have leave the parliament, to come back and overcome all the controversies only by political means, in the framework of the one country's parliament.
PANORAMA: What shall you do in Kazakhstan? Thanks to Lord, here is no split between right and left banks.
- Exactly, thanks to Lord! But it doesn't mean that you have already a democratic state. The way to the genuine democracy for Kazakhstan is maybe even longer than for Russia or Ukraine. Human right are violated here not so seldom...
PANORAMA: Could you give concrete examples?
- Sure. Well, for example on October 7 in Turgaj region an activist of the Democratic Union was sentenced for picketing of local magistrate. Or that story with Social Democratic manifestation in Novy Uzen. The meeting was sanctioned by local authorities, but just after begin of the first speech the police car arrived and everybody was detained. After one week of my stay here it is difficult to evaluate, but conversations with Radical members, deputies, simply with acquaintances assure, that one can go on with this listing.
Additionally, we intend to develop campaign for abolishing of death penalty in Kazakhstan. Already 23 members of your parliament have sign an appeal to your legislative body which has to borrow the new criminal code. And - of course - antiprohibitionism on drugs. In this sphere Kazakhstan is a large field for our activity.
PANORAMA: Don't you find strange the circumstance that Radical Party combats for legalization of drugs while all the efforts of international community are directed to absolutely another side?
- We assume that danger is going not from side of drugs themselves, but from side of prohibited drugs. Now all the drug producing is concentrated in hands of mafia, giving to it a colossal bonus - only because they are forbidden. The more we war against narcomafia, the more powerful it is. The schema is very simple: if it becomes more difficult to produce and deal drugs - it means that they becomes more expensive. And - as a consequence - so called "civilized" countries spend more money to fight against narcomafia. But these money could be spent for rehabilitation of drug users, and drugs could be in drugstores, being under control, strong and correct measured, without dangerous ingredients, together with sterile syringes. It is also protection against AIDS.
PANORAMA: But where are the guarantees, that monopoly on producing and distributing of drugs, being taken away from narcomafia will not fetch up at the hands of the state? You know, something like this happened earlier with vodka: being cheep and earful it became one of the most essential - somebody think even, the main one - consideration sources of the "real socialism".
- Well, you gave a very good example which proves however that exactly we are right. What were the consequences of the prohibition law in United States? Alcohol mafia, the criminal talent of Al Capone. And what about our "crusade against drinking"? People have start to drink varnish or substitute alcohol by the same drugs!
If however the state like in case of vodka, will substitute mafia by itself, trying to solve its own financial problems at the expense of people's health - well, it means that this state is not the state we need. We speak about the state of Law, isn't it?
PANORAMA: Let's go back to the "pure politics". At the beginning of our conversation you have told that everybody can join Radical Party - without depending from his political views and party belongings. It permits you to welcome leftists, Communists for example. At the same time your party defends one of the basic rights in a democratic society - right of private property. It is traditionally a right-wing position. Actually, on which political wing are you? Many people here think: if we have finished with Communist governing, it means that Communists are a right-wing force, and new formed "democrats" - the left one...
- Well, let's agree that Communists have lost the power only de-jure. De-facto they are still governing. I think it is not necessary to prove this thesis here in Kazakhstan.
What concerns our color: without any doubts we are a left-wing party. A left liberal party, if you want. That right of private property is one the main attributes of the law democracy, which we are fighting for. And what concerns Communists... Their ideology and practice have never inspired us. During all the thirty seven years of its existence RP has shown itself as an anti-Communist and anti-fascist party. Of course, meaning our strategic aims, it can't be by others. But Radical membership is strongly individual. Every person can find among our ideas that one which is especially sympathetic for him personally. For example, I was surprized by enlisting of Mr. Ermuhamet Ertysbaev - co-president of Socialist Party (ex-Communist Party). I am frankly glad that he became our comrade. It shows again, how different on their political views people can be united by the Radical Party. And if tomorrow Mr. Terescenko or Mr. Nazarbaev join the party - it will mean that also divide our values, which are accepted by all t
he carriers of normal common sense.