| 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
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
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
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
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
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