| The liberal Yabloko party and the Communists both held
congresses over the weekend to nominate their candidates for the parliamentary
elections scheduled for December 7.
In a move, seen as a counter-attack against the Union of Right-Wing
Forces, otherwise known as the SPS, which said last week it was pulling
out of all previous agreements with Yabloko, Grigory
Yavlinsky's party decided to nominate candidates in most individual
constituencies, where SPS candidates are standing for seats in the lower
Igor Artemyev, a
prominent Yabloko activist and a long-time opponent of Anatoly Chubais
- who is third on the SPS list - has been nominated as the No.3 candidate
on the electoral list of Grigory Yavlinsky's party.
At the congress held on September 6-7 Yabloko endorsed its electoral
programme, which contains 11 provisions and harshly criticizes the existing
regime and approved the party's electoral list. The delegates upheld a
proposal by the party's federal council to include in addition to Yabloko's
founders Grigory Yavlinsky and Vladimir
Lukin the St. Petersburg economist Igor Artemyev on the list of the
party's top three candidates.
In Yabloko Artemyev oversees the housing sector and power industry reforms
and is in charge of the alternative budget: Yabloko submits this alternative
budget to the lower house every year. Artemyev is not only popular in
the northern capital, where in 1999 he came second in the race for governor,
but is also known as one of the staunchest and most consistent critics
of Anatoly Chubais' initiatives for electricity reform.
Yabloko's decision to nominate Artemyev as its third leading candidate
is seen as a demonstration to the SPS that Yabloko has accepted the challenge
to fight for liberal votes in the forthcoming poll.
Artemyev's inclusion among the top three candidates was not the only
decision passed by the party congress to spite the SPS. Yabloko's approval
of the list of candidates nominated in single-mandate constituencies will
be more disturbing for the SPS. The list proved to be much longer than
originally planned. In line with the latest decisions, Yabloko candidates
will vie with SPS members for seats in the State Duma in almost every
In this way Yabloko has demonstrated its readiness to respond to the
actions of their liberal rivals who a day before the congress opened notified
their potential allies about their decision to pull out of a previously
agreed pact, whereby the two parties arranged not to contest the same
single-mandate constituencies, so as to not to split votes.
According to Gazeta.Ru sources, Irina Khakamada herself informed Yabloko's
leadership of her party's decision. The SPS co-chairperson called Yavlinsky's
deputy Sergei Ivanenko,
with whom she had headed the working group set up to develop the pact,
and curtly announced that the SPS would be rescinding agreements that
it had taken almost two years to reach.
Yabloko's response, outlined in comments made by Ivanenko and Artemyev
after the congress on Sunday, does not mean that the party is gearing
up for total war with SPS. Agreements can be resumed if the SPS take appropriate
steps. To that effect, the congress even passed a special document, an
address to the delegates of the SPS congress, which opens in Moscow on
Apart from general greetings, a call to ''adhere to the principles of
honest elections'' and a warning against ''using unethical methods of
campaigning'', contained in the address to SPS delegates, it notifies
them that the agreement can be resumed, should the SPS so decide at their
Yabloko's ratings have risen lately, as it has intensified its criticism
of the government, and Yavlinsky forecast on Sunday that it could win
up to 12 percent of the vote.
The Communists also held their pre-election congress this weekend. The
delegates nominated the party's veteran leader Gennady Zyuganov, an old
nationalist and former governor of the Krasnodar Region Nikolai Kondratenko
and the Agrarian Party activist Nikolai Kharitonov as the top three candidates
on the party's electoral list. Other figures on the list include Nobel
Prize winner Zhores Alfyorov and former cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya.
Zyuganov, whose party has been struggling hard to prevent a split, as
his former ally Sergei Glazyev, strongly backed by the Kremlin, announced
the formation of a separate bloc, said the list reflected a consensus
among left wingers. ''What is remarkable here is that 11 of (the top)
18 candidates are not even Communist Party members, but work actively
with us,'' he told Russian news agencies.
State Duma elections
YABLOKO and SPS
11th Congress of