| Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of stories
based on extensive analysis by The Moscow Times of the business presence
on the federal and regional lists of candidates put forward by the major
political parties for Sunday's parliamentary elections.
The liberal Yabloko party has been financed by former Yukos CEO Mikhail
Khodorkovsky since its creation in 1993, but this year for the first time
it has included top representatives of the oil company on its party list.
"That was Yukos' condition for funding our party," party leader
Grigory Yavlinsky said on
NTV television last month. "We accepted that condition and we believe
that this open policy is right. We cannot earn that money ourselves, as
the law does not allow us to do that."
An analysis of the 142 candidates on Yabloko's list found three top
Yukos representatives, all on the federal list and thus likely to win
seats in Sunday's election if the party gets at least 5 percent of the
vote. They are the only businessmen the party has included on its list
of candidates vying for the 225 seats allocated on the basis of party
lists. The other 225 seats in the Duma represent single-mandate districts.
The 11th, 12th and 13th spots on Yabloko's federal list are occupied,
respectively, by Konstantin Kagalovsky, a Yukos shareholder and former
board member who heads the Yukos-funded Open Economics Institute; Galina
Antonova, the head of strategic planning at Yukos; and Alexander Osovtsov,
project director of Yukos' Open Russia foundation.
Both the oil company and the political party stand to benefit from the
"For Yukos it was important to have Yabloko's support," said
Alexei Makarkin, a political expert with the Center for Political Technologies.
"The party not only has a real chance of getting into parliament,
but it also has a respectable liberal image close to that that Khodorkovsky
was trying to build around himself. Investing in Yabloko was part of the
same strategy of Khodorkovsky inviting Western managers to work for Yukos."
Khodorkovsky acknowledges funding Yabloko since the 1993 parliamentary
election. In this election campaign, he or Yukos also have been giving
money to the Union of Right Forces and the Communist Party, which has
been read as a threat to the Kremlin's goal of forming a two-thirds majority
in the next Duma. With a two-thirds majority, the Kremlin would be able
to amend the Constitution, in addition to being able to push through legislation
that could make life harder for big business in general and oil companies
Yury Korgunyuk, the editor of the weekly political bulletin Partinfo,
said he sees Khodorkovsky's interest in Yabloko as having less to do with
it being a kindred party than with him making a "pragmatic calculation"
aimed at getting his representatives into the Duma.
"Even if Yabloko is unlikely to get more than 6 to 7 percent [of
the vote] and therefore forms a faction with some 18 to 20 deputies, Yukos
will have an entire faction under its control," he said.
Yabloko also benefits from Khodorkovsky's support, which Korgunyuk said
is more important to the party this year because it no longer has the
backing of Vladimir Gusinsky, who after losing NTV and the rest of Media-MOST
now lives in exile.
"In 1999 [the last elections], the situation was much easier for
Yabloko," he said. "Khodorkovsky paid for the party campaign
and Gusinsky gave them free airtime. The party did not need any businessmen
on its list to earn money at the time, but now it does."
But the presence of Yukos representatives in the next Yabloko faction
is likely to hurt the party discipline Yabloko deputies have always shown
when voting on important legislation, Korgunyuk said. He predicted that
the political deputies will continue to show solidarity when voting, but
the businessmen will go their own way.
Yabloko deputy head Sergei
Mitrokhin, however, denied the Yukos representatives will change party
policy. "Those deputies who represent Yukos will not influence Yabloko's
policy or the way the party has always voted for important bills,"
he said. "It will be the same as before."
In 1994, Yabloko expelled one of its deputies, Vladimir Lysenko, because
he voted against the party line. But the party later closed its eyes when
Mikhail Yurev, a businessman and party sponsor who was elected on the
Yabloko list in 1995, did not respect party discipline at all. In 1999,
Yabloko put no businessmen on its list.
The legal assault on Yukos and arrest of Khodorkovsky in October is
unlikely to hurt Yabloko at the polls, Makarkin and Korgunyuk said.
"Yabloko's electorate is human-rights oriented and those people
will continue to vote for the party anyway," Makarkin said. The Yukos
affair, however, will not help the party attract new voters, because those
people who are most concerned about the case against Yukos already vote
for Yabloko, he said.
However, leaders of Yabloko's biggest rival, the Union of Right Forces,
have been more vocal in their criticism of the Yukos case, and the parties
appeal to some of the same voters.
Vladimir Pribylovsky, the head of the Panorama think tank, said Yabloko
has to play a careful balancing game.
"The party has to be careful," he said. "If it actively
defends Yukos, it might lose that part of the electorate that opposes
the reforms and does not like the oligarchs, but if it does not speak
out against what is going on with the oil company, it might lose the vote
of the democracy-oriented electorate."
Furthermore, he said, Yabloko finds itself in an awkward situation in
that many of its democratic-oriented voters would like to see Khodorkovsky
run for president in 2004, an election in which Yavlinsky plans to take
Pribylovsky said Yavlinsky and other party leaders also have to be careful
not to annoy their detractors within the presidential administration.
"If they do, the results of the elections can be modified against
them and it wouldn't be too difficult to do for the Kremlin. A small modification
-- let's say of two percentage points -- is enough for Yabloko not to
Mitrokhin said Yabloko is not embarrassed by what has been happening
to Yukos and has not changed its program or campaign "in any way."
Yabloko has 17 candidates on its federal list, which will be given the
first seats won on the basis of the party vote; the rest of the candidates
are on 16 regional lists.
The spots on the list above the three Yukos candidates are occupied
by party stalwarts who are running for re-election. The spots below are
party activists and a few small regional businessmen who are party members.
They are unlikely to get into the Duma. Some incumbent Duma deputies are
running for re-election in single-mandate districts.
In the last Duma, Yabloko held 17 seats after winning 5.98 percent of
Yabloko, like the Communist Party, has a stable core of support. The
bulk of its electorate is composed of well-educated people who believe
in democracy and a market economy but have been left behind by the changes
of the past decade. Yabloko also appeals to businessmen, entrepreneurs
and professionals who are well integrated in the new economic and political
system and have medium-low incomes. The common thread of the Yabloko electorate
is opposition to the reforms of the past 10 years and the way these reforms
were carried out.
the original at
Elections to the State Duma,