| A well-informed and reliable source in a certain pro-Kremlin
party says that United Russia leaders rushed to their Kremlin supervisors
for consultations right after the electoral fiasco of the Union of Right-Wing
Forces (SPS) and Yabloko. The decision was made to form a right wing in
the new Duma. United Russia plans to set up a separate deputy group of
"the right" in the lower house. Thirty-five lawmakers are required.
The group may comprise liberal Duma members from single-mandate districts
and "independent liberals" (mostly businesspeople), or liberals
from United Russia's right wing.
Alexander Koval, Viktor Pleskanov, Alexander Zhukov, and some others
are regarded as right-wingers; but not everyone is ready to agree to the
plans of United Russia leaders (according to a source who insisted on
anonymity). "United Russia is not an example of liberalism, you know,"
explained the source. "If it loses members with a liberal outlook,
the party may shift to the left." The source believes that the future
group will consist of Duma members from single-mandate districts.
Experts do not think that the "bona fide" right wing will
agree to join the group established by United Russia. To quote Sergei
Kolmakov, Vice-President of the Parliamentarism Development Foundation:
"United Russia itself needs people thinking about continuing liberal
reforms, not only about confiscating money from oligarchs." Kolmakov
believes that the idea of forming such a group is feasible, but doesn't
think that members of Yabloko or the SPS from single-mandate districts
will join. "They will try instead to form their own group, even though
it will evidently be very small," said Kolmakov.
According to Kolmakov, United Russia needs "friendly" deputy
groups in the Duma to secure more votes on the Duma Council. Comprising
leaders of all factions and groups, this body determines the agenda and
position of the Duma on major issues. With "friendly" groups
supporting it, United Russia would have the majority of votes on the Duma
Council. This state of affairs would enable it to run the lower house
without consulting the Communists, the LDPR, or Motherland.
The SPS spokesperson Elena Dikun calls United Russia's decision "predictable."
She says United Russia will end up with "another pocket party".
Sergei Mitrokhin of
Yabloko calls the whole idea "a farce" but doesn't rule out
the possibility that some Yabloko deputies may choose to join the future
group. Mitrokhin says: "It is a better option, in that at least you
can achieve something."