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Vremya Novostei, May 26, 2003

Grigory Yavlinsky Called on the Residents of Perm to Watch Less TV.YABLOKO signs cooperation agreement with Perm region

By Ksenia Veretennikova

The leader of the YABLOKO party Grigory Yavlinsky visited Perm at the end of last week to sign a cooperation agreement between the Duma faction and the authorities of Perm region. In addition Yavlinsky discussed with the local authorities the experiment in the housing and utilities sector.

Perm region was chosen by the head of RAO UES Anatoli Chubais for participation in the experiment. It is planned that the visit to Perm will be the first in a series of such visits to different cities in Russia.

Cooperation agreements are nothing new for both sides. Perm region has been "cooperating" with United Russia and the SPS (Union of Right-Wing Forces), and YABLOKO also signed agreements with a number of regions. A cooperation agreement represents de facto a declaration of intention. However, according to YABLOKO's leader the faction has a definite plan for cooperation with Perm region. YABLOKO is ready to help the region with its expertise on economic issues, particularly in the assessment of the costs of construction of a railway. In addition, the faction will try to obtain federal budget financing for the most important facilities in Perm region - the bridge across the Kama river and reconstruction of Perm airport. Yavlinsky stressed that YABLOKO can represent the interests of the region at all levels. "I don't see any competition between different parties and factions in concluding such agreements," noted Yavlinsky in his speech in the legislative assembly of the region. "I think that as time passes the legislative assembly will discover the factions and issues where work is most efficient. Our faction can be efficient for the development of an economic programme for the country in general and in particular for the development of such an industrially developed region as Perm region."

Yavlinsky rated highly the political situation in the region, namely" stability, adherence to democracy and high authority of local government. He also proposed that the regional administration create a working group consisting of three or people to implement the to avoid shifting this important problem to "support staff who will send their regards and souvenirs to each other." According to YABLOKO's leader, the work can be organised to ensure that the results are already visible by autumn 2004.

The Governor of the Perm region Yuri Trutnev calmed the deputies of the legislative assembly saying that the agreement did not bind the region to support the vote of no-confidence in the government initiated by YABLOKO.

"I simply forgot to put it down in the agreement," joked Yavlinsky. Consequently the deputies of the legislative assembly voted unanimously for the agreement.

Yavlinsky also had a meeting with the Mayor of Perm Arkadi Kamenev and Deputy Governor of Perm region Oleg Zhdanov to discuss how they are going to participate in the RAO UES experiment in the housing and utilities sector. Deputy Governor of Perm region Oleg Zhdanov said that the authorities of the region would not allow the transfer of facilities in the housing and utilities sector to Chubais' new monopoly for debts and promised to prepare their own proposals to reformthe sector in the region.

In Perm Yavlinsky also met with students, the intelligentsia, Perm businessmen, the local branch of YABLOKO and the local press.

The meeting with the students in the Perm State technological University was less formal. One student asked if Yavlinsky had a personal image-maker. It turned out that there was one - his wife. Someone also asked YABLOKO's leader which clothes he preferred. "After our meeting I am going to think over my 'camouflage'," answered Yavlinsky, as the student of this economic faculty were dressed in military uniforms and the rector of the university had informed Yavlinsky about this beforehand. This new word in economic science had a simple explanation - the students had their military training course that day.

Yavlinsky spoke with the business community of Perm about the periphery capitalism which developed in Russia and about his view of a way out of this situation. According to YABLOKO's leader at present the country, just as was the case 10 years ago, needs a clear and definite economic programme. But the programme cannot be created in "laboratory conditions" and should be developed "from below", with due account of the problems of specific regions and economic sectors. Therefore Yavlinsky thinks that a regular discussion of economic issues with regional entrepreneurs is a mandatory prerequisite for the development of the real and not abstract economic policy. Yavlinsky also informed the businessmen that YABLOKO would try to achieve the goal of freeing small and medium-sized businesses from all taxes, apart from income tax. This, noted Yavlinsky, would lead to both a reduction in the barriers to development of small businesses and the inflow of millions of participants into the real economy, but also to an increase in budget revenues at all levels. According to Yavlinsky, the concept of such a reform proposed by YABLOKO was worked out in detail and had already found support with many people, including in the Kremlin . One of the businessmen participating in the meeting proposed that Yavlinsky consider the prospects of cooperation with adeputy from the CPRF faction Sergei Glazyev. "I don't understand which political game he has begun, answered Yavlinsky. - He is a professional economist and I respect him in this area, but he often says "Let us imagine that we have a good government." We should not imagine anything. We should create such an economy that would survive even under a bad government."

The local YABLOKO leaders put to Yavlinsky a number of questions from local party-building problems to the parliamentary elections that will take place in December 2003. Several months ago a well-known regional businessmen Valeri Chuprakov became head of the local branch of YABLOKO. YABLOKO has high hopes of Chuprakov. One elderly local YABLOKO member asked Yavlinsky, "Why don't we have our own Khakamada?" And Yavlinsky noted that there would not be enough Khakamada to go round and proposed that they elect "their own Khakamada". Another question asked whether the maintenance payments to the ex-president Boris Yeltsin were too expensive for Russia. But YABLOKO's leader curbed this discussion saying, "We are not going to engage in revenge here. When Yeltsin was in power he damaged Russia. We voted for impeachment then. Now he is a pensioner. And Russia will not get poorer if he buys two bottles of kefir instead of one." The parting words of Yavlinsky to Perm YABLOKO members in view of the forthcoming election campaign were as follows, "Watch less TV, spare your brains!"


See also:

State Duma Elections 2003

Vremya Novostei, May 26, 2003

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