YABLOKO Election Congress: “A Democratic Coalition has taken place!”
Press release, 03.07.2016
A democratic coalition has taken place, and this is the main result of YABLOKO’s work over the past year and a half, YABLOKO leader Grigory Yavlinsky said in his keynote speech at the YABLOKO Congress.
“Today I want to announce it to all our country that at this Congress we have founded the basis for a democratic coalition – it is a serious foundation which we have laid. And it is our victory for today, it is the first step,” he said.
Grigory Yavlinsky greeted the politicians who made the decision to run in the parliamentary elections as YABLOKO’s candidates.
“We have common goals, common understanding, but [such a coalition] does not take place at once. The dream of Russia’s society about the consolidation of democrats is a great dream; it has always existed. But the conditions for it have started to mature only now. We are not demiurges, we can not do whatever we want at any moment. We should listen to the steps of the Lord – to what is really going on – and be able to answer them. This is the sense of a true politicians’ work,” Grigory Yavlinsky noted.
On the third day of YABLOKO’s Election Congress the party leading candidates represented the main aspects of the electoral programme to the guests: human resource, economics, foreign affairs, fighting corruption, environmental policy and others.
The 3rd day of YABLOKO’s Congress coincided with sad anniversary of death of Yury Shchekichikhin, YABLOKO MP and a pillar of Russian investigative journalism. The Congress paid tribute to his memory by standing up.
About 1000 people were present at the ceremony.The results of ballot voting on the nomination of candidates [the voting had take place the day before] were announced at the beginning of the event. 341 people entered the list. The ten top candidates in YABLOKO’s parliamentary election list are as follows: Grigory Yavlinsky, party founder, head of the YABLOKO faction in St.Petersburg Legislative Assembly, Emilia Slabunova, party Chair, deputy of Karelian Legislative Assembly, Vladimir Ryzhkov, famous politician, professor at the Higher School of Economics, Lev Shlosberg, head of the Pskov branch of YABLOKO, ex-deputy of the Pskov Region Legislative Assembly and journalist, Sergei Mitrokhin, head of the Moscow branch of YABLOKO and ex-Chair of the party, Mark Geilikman, head of the party election head-quarters, Nikolai Rybakov, Deputy Chair of the party and environmentalist, Galina Shirshina, ex-Mayor of Petrozavodsk, Alexander Gnezdilov, Deputy Chair of the party and theatre director, and Dmitry Gudkov, politician and oppositional MP of the State Duma.
The full list of candidates, including 185 nominees in the single-mandate constituencies, will be published later on the party website.
The leaders of the list said that the opposition, which gathered around YABLOKO, opens an alternative reality to the country: a truly new State Duma and a new President, and it is high time for these changes.
“This is a Congress of hope, especially in contrast to the four-head gloomy parliament. Now people have whom they may vote for. The union of democrats did take place and we are going to win! We promise a new Duma so that we could adopt new laws and revoke old “toxic” laws. We promise a new President of Russia. Yavlinsky is a sole candidate from the democratic opposition in the presidential election 2018,” Vladimir Ryzhkov said.
YABLOKO Chair Emilia Slabunova dedicated her speech to the importance of human capital and prosperity of the state: A person, an individual is the measure of all… We have to invest into a person by means of care, respect, financial support. Successful development and the efficiency of the state are determined by social health. We think that the right to healthcare is one of the basic human rights. And it is a social value. We think that all the citizens should get healthcare in accordance with the standards. We should stop elimination of healthcare under the slogans of ‘optimisation”.
The second half of Emilia Slabunova’s speech was devoted to education. “The state must understand that education is a social value. Funds for education in Russia must be raised to 5% of GDP in the national budget. Access to education should be provided and guaranteed to all. Education should be consistent throughout a human life. We must create condition for greater academic freedom. The state should help all the educational institutions. It is doctors, teachers, workers in the field of culture who determine the trajectory of the country’s development,” she noted.
Moscow YABLOKO Chair Sergei Mitrokhin spoke about fighting corruption and the initiatives of the party anti-corruption centre. He gave a recent example of the Sochi Forum, which came very expensive for the budget. It turned out that the Property Management Department under the President had the right to pay to contractors without choosing a contracting company via a public tender. There are also different ‘projects’, for instance, building of nuclear power station abroad, which is very expensive and the pay back may never come. “The most corruption-prone word in the Russian language is ‘can’ – which means that, for example, a controlling body may or can control the expenditures or may not do it,” Mitrokhin said.
Chair of the Pskov YABLOKO branch, the Boris Nemtsov Prize winner Lev Shlosberg spoke about the importance of peace. “The cruel 20th century raised up the people of the war in Russia. But the same century raised up the people of the peace”.
“We are the successors and inheritors of robbed farmers, killed clergymen, the dissenting who were murdered… We should bring peace to our land. Our country needs freedom and peace as light and life. YABLOKO calls to bring freedom and peace to our country, we know how valuable they are and we will bring them to Russia.”
In his keynote speech YABLOKO Deputy Chair Alexander Gnezdilov announced that YABLOKO is intended to achieve the abolition of the visa regime with the EU and lifting of the mutual sanctions starting with the removal of the embargo on food products. “We as the Russian people are part of the European culture, it is time for us to come back home to mother-Europe. We are determined to make Russia a modern, effective European country. We will definitely come to the abolition of the visa regime between Russia and the countries of the EU and create a common space for scientific, cultural and educational exchange ,” he said.
People’s ex Mayor of Petrozavodsk, ALDE-CoR LeaDer Award 2016 winner, Galina Shirshina spoke about every day life of ordinary people. She touched upon the problems of housing and utilises networks, bad functioning of transport, cutting of parks, reduction of the number of hospitals and so on. “Upsurge of civil activism is a global trend. Why in Russia we have failed to solve the problems on the municipalities’ level: reduction of proxies, bad financing of regions, negative investment and business climate (businesses regard their work only as a source of short-term profit)… We can not solve the country’s problem without developed municipalities. The reform should be three-fold: direct gubernatorial elections, local problems should be solved at the municipality level, local taxes must remain in the local level. Citizens must have and exercise the right to govern the city,” she said.
Nikoali Rybakov, Deputy Chair and environmentalist, spoke about protection of environment. “Every year 400,000 people die in Russia from the diseases that are connected with polluted environment. We must change this state, so that life would be better and people live longer and their life would be of better quality,” he noted.
Mark Geilikman, head of the party election head-quarters said that “when Yavlinsky and his team offered the 500 Days Programme of market reforms to Russia in 1990, it was very important, and it was the beginning of YABLOKO. Since then the party took the responsibility to create a free and just country. This should be the most important thing during this campaign. It is YABLOKO’s mission,” he stressed.
Dmitry Gudkov, politician and oppositional MP in the Duma said that “the present young generation knows and lived only under Putin. They have no social lifts. Today we have no time for more “experiments”. The authorities have again begun total surveillance, ousting highly educated people of our country. When in the West the national idea is to win over cancer, in Russia they try to win over NGOs anounced ‘foreign agents’.
“Unlike Putin we don’t have more time, we want to live rather than survive. For 15 years there has been no political alternative in the country, But today there is such an alternative – YABLOKO, you managed to create a strong team which can win. It is our time, and we will not allow to steal time from us any more. I am happy to be part of the team,” Gudkov noted.
Grigory Yavlinsky called the Russians to participate in the elections on September 18.
“We want to introduce alternative policies. So that to break the apathy of the people, and show people that there is an alternative – on the level of politics, values, personalities… We propose principally different goals of the economic policies. This is the policies that will not allow Russia to become a retarded country,” Yavlinsky said.
“You know that we are the only party in Russia, which has never stolen anything or deceived anyone. You are voting formally for us, but you are choosing your fate. Why do you think they appointed election on September 18? So that people would not come – the authorities say: ‘have a holiday, but do not interfere into our affairs.”
“That is why I am going to run for the President. In our country presidential election is of principal importance. Any attempt to use force instead of election will lead to such violence that Russia will be an impossible place to live in. You should be patient, insistent so that to achieve the changes by peaceful means. And we will do it!” concluded Grigory Yavlinsky.