Why I Am Challenging Putin

Russia is living through the deepest, most prolonged crisis in modern history. It is a man-made crisis that has struck every sphere of society and the state. This crisis is not a natural disaster but one engineered by the choice of a false doctrine of reform, one that is leading the country to degradation.

Few people believe in the Putin regime's ability to achieve serious change. The corruption and inefficiency of the state apparatus and the government's incompetence and inertia leave no hope for a real improvement in living standards. Instead of the state being strengthened, it is being reborn as a police-bureaucratic apparatus to suppress social protest, extort bribes, and assure political repression.

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I am running for president in order to cleanse the state apparatus of corruption and bureaucratic arbitrariness and to summon competent and responsible people into state service. Russia cannot withstand another four years of plunder and destruction.

I am running so as to implement a real program to rebuild the economy. The current regime will not implement such a program and will continue to serve the oligarchic clans that have grown fat by plundering state property. Putin's corrupt and irresponsible regime has become part of the system of oligarchic parasitism, with its pathologically unjust distribution of incomes and property.

The current regime is ignoring an immutable law of governance: a state's effectiveness is indivisible from its responsibility for social justice. By abandoning this responsibility, today's state has become not only ineffective but dangerous.

The impoverishment of great masses of the population has destroyed the structures of civil society, giving rise to a "civilization of slums." Roughly half of Russia's population, primarily children, is not getting enough to eat. Child neglect and homelessness are growing. Towns and villages are swamped by violence and banditry.

Poverty, psychological stress, and the collapse of health care have led to an anomalously high death rate, a mass decrease in health, and the wasting of colossal labor resources. Many people cannot buy the most basic medicines and have no access to modern medical services. The prospects for modernizing or even preserving the national health care system are shrinking with every year.

I am running in the election in order to guarantee everyone living in our country, which is the richest in the world, the constitutional right to a decent life and to develop freely.

In order to do this, we must take back as state revenue the profits from the exploitation of our natural wealth, double the budget, and guarantee everyone's real right to free education and healthcare.

The "reforms" that have been conducted over the last 15 years have denied a large proportion of the work-fit population, primarily young people, of jobs and the right to a decent life. But they are the backbone of our country. Continuing on the current path will only destroy the nation's workers.

Implementing our program of social justice and economic growth will allow wages to be doubled in the course of a year by bringing them into line with labor's contribution to the national income, expanding workers' rights to stand up for their interests, and increasing the minimum wage by three times. Real wages should grow fourfold by 2010; pensions must also grow accordingly.

Economic growth must encompass all regions of the country, and people must have equal social guarantees, rights, and opportunities regardless of their place of residence. At the moment, revenues are diverted away from the regions to the center and then dispatched abroad ­- the oligarchs' wealth of billions comes from fleecing the Russian provinces. I will put an end to this.

To improve the economy we will direct lending to manufacturing and entrepreneurial activity, protect the right to honestly earned and legally acquired property, rebuild savings, and stimulate scientific-technical innovation and investment. Markets will be purged of criminals and monopolies; honest competition will begin to operate. Those who work well and benefit society will get high incomes, not those who take what belongs to other people. The prices of basic commodities and charges for electricity, heating, and other vital services will be reduced to their actual production costs.

The geopolitical legacy of the USSR as a great power has been squandered over the years of "reform." Reform of the armed services has boiled down to disarmament alone. Combat capability has fallen to an unprecedented low level. Russia is being threatened with losing its status as a power. Russia will not be reborn without the rebirth of a powerful, modern army.

Afflicted by corruption, the law-enforcement authorities are not in a position to prevent the threat of terrorism or to crush organized crime. I will purge these bodies of corruption, eradicate organized crime, and liberate our towns from terrorists and bandits.

Under the slogan of the market, the current regime has allowed depravity to flourish on television and in mass culture. The profound values of Russian culture are being systematically destroyed, stripping life of its meaning and joy, and sowing an enmity of each against all.

To give Russians back a feeling of pride in their homeland, and to create the conditions for a revival of our historical spiritual and cultural traditions, we must revive our schools, eradicate the spirit of depravity and violence in the media, provide everyone with access to masterpieces of Russian culture, and create the conditions for a social partnership between the state and the church. Now is the moment for Russians to take Russia back!