| The leader of the YABLOKO party Grigory
Yavlinsky and St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko have concluded
a tacit cooperation agreement. Yavlinsky held several meetings in St. Petersburg
on November 26; his conversation with Matviyenko lasted one-and-a-half hours rather than the scheduled 30 minutes, focusing primarily on cooperation
between the party and the new municipal administration, as well as joint
efforts to "overcome the bane of corruption" which has taken
shape in St. Petersburg in recent years.
The YABLOKO party presented Governor Valentina Matviyenko with a list
of 20 candidates for official posts in the municipal administration. "We
do not set ourselves the goal of resolving the problem at the level of
official posts. This ought to be a professional representation, not a
political one," said Yavlinsky. He explained that YABLOKO members
hope to secure the posts of committee chairs or deputy chairs within the
economic, financial, and municipal construction blocs of the city administration.
YABLOKO also intends to fight "the bane of corruption which has taken
shape in St. Petersburg in recent years" - supporting Matviyenko,
who has already launched a campaign against corrupt public servants. Yavlinsky
and Matviyenko also discussed some housing and utilities issues which
are especially urgent in St. Petersburg: creating a system that will keep
tariffs down, accumulating resources for repairs and maintenance, and
organizing tenders for construction work.
Yavlinsky says corruption is a problem not only for St. Petersburg,
but for Russia as a whole - where a system of "peripheral capitalism"
(or robber capitalism) has been established, similar to those operating
in parts of Africa and Latin America. Business and government have merged
totally, and therefore Russia lacks independent legislators ,any independent
media, or an independent judiciary; moreover, there is no public oversight
for the special services and law enforcement agencies. Yavlinsky warns:
"Such systems may generate economic growth of 6-8% a year, but it
is growth without development - a dangerous economic hallucination."
Yavlinsky also set out YABLOKO's priorities for the new Duma after
the elections. In the economy, these are: reducing taxes for families
and simplifying the accounting requirements for small business; as well
as working on a package of bills relating to legitimizing the loans-for-shares
auctions of the mid-1990s. Moreover, the parliament of 2004 ought to pass
laws on civil and parliamentary oversight for the law enforcement agencies,
on public television, and on financial transparency for political parties.
The YABLOKO party leader is convinced that his party will make it into
the Duma. He calls on the public not to believe opinion poll results:
"At present, they are all tools for PR and manipulation." Yavlinsky
cites the conclusions of analysts who have calculated the potential for
manipulating voter opinion in various regions of Russia. The lowest figure
(two to five percentage points) was recorded for St. Petersburg and Moscow;
the highest was up to 50% for Tatarstan and Bashkortostan; the national
average was 10-12%. The simple conclusion is that it is currently impossible
to predict the breakdown of forces in the Duma of 2004.
State Duma elections