| MOSCOW, December 21 (Itar-Tass) - The Yabloko Party will
not nominate its candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for
March 2004, Yabloko leader Grigory
Yavlinsky told a briefing on Sunday based on the results of the two-day
congress of his party.
Yavlinsky who had participated in the presidential elections in 1996 and 2000,
emphasised that the party's present decision was taken as a result of
a long and difficult discussion and is "a serious and not a simple
one". He claimed that Russia was in the midst of a political situation,
where "free, equal and politically competitive elections are impossible".
Asked whether Yabloko would support any candidate, nominated by other
political forces, Yavlinsky said that this subject was "the next
political decision" to be taken during the general party discussion.
The absence of an understanding on nominating a common candidate from
Yabloko and the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) at the presidential elections
is urelated to Yabloko's decision not to participate in the elections,
"If we had believed it was possible to participate in the elections
in the current situation, we would have nominated our candidate,"
he told reporters at the briefing.
The issue of participation in the elections was the main one at the
congress, held in the town of
Moskovsky behind closed doors. The Union of Right-Wing Forces and Yabloko
failed to cross the five-percent barrier at the elections to the State
Duma on December 7. The two parties had been holding talks over the past
two weeks on the possible nomination of a common candidate for the presidency,
which ended in a flop.
Incidentally, Yavlinsky said that the congress had thoroughly debated
the party's coalition policy, and the congress favoured cooperation with
"all democratic forces", including the SPS.
Yavlinsky stressed that the party's main task for the next four years
would be the formation of "a large impressive democratic party"
which would operate outside the
legislature as "a democratic opposition".
He underlined that his party perceives "a trajectory for the country's
development, both in the economy and in the domestic policy" which
differs from that ofthe present leadership of Russia.
The Yabloko leader also reported that this position was the result of
a heated debate at the congress where delegates made "many serious
remarks and critical appraisals", including those addressed to the
party leadership. He said that a no-confidence vote in the party's leadership
had been raised at the congress.
However, the congress backed Yavlinsky's stand, and the majority voted
against inclusion of the no-confidence motion on the agenda of the congress.
The 12th Congress