Putting their failed State Duma bids behind them, the Union of Right Forces,
or SPS, and Yabloko are struggling to unite to push forward a single candidate
for the March 14 presidential election. But the name for the ballot remains
elusive, party leaders said Tuesday.
Vladimir Filonov / MT
flanked by Nemtsov, told reporters Tuesday that the presidential candidate
should be independent of the Kremlin.
SPS co-leader Boris Nemtsov told reporters Tuesday that talks between
the two parties are "at their height" and that they are considering
The choice is not an easy one, since the right person has to have prerequisites
that suit both SPS and Yabloko leaders, he said.
SPS co-leader Irina Khakamada, speaking at the same news conference,
said the candidate should be independent from the Kremlin and able to
attract the votes of those who cast ballots in past Duma elections for
The deadline is tight, and the parties will come up with a decision
by the end of the week, Nemtsov said.
According to the law, presidential candidates without representation
in the Duma have until Dec. 31 to announce their bids.
The urgency expressed by SPS leaders, however, did not seem to be shared
by their counterparts at Yabloko on Tuesday.
Yabloko deputy leader Sergei
Mitrokhin did not show any particular enthusiasm about the talks with
SPS, which he dismissed as "vague" in a brief telephone interview.
He said a final decision on how Yabloko intends to cooperate with SPS
will be made Sunday at a party congress.
Mitrokhin added that Yabloko might decide to ignore the presidential
election all together. "We believe that the results of the Duma elections
were falsified, and we might decide not to take part in the presidential
bid," he said.
Under an SPS initiative, the two parties last week asked independent
Duma Deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov and Chuvash Governor Nikolai Fyodorov to
consider running for president. Both men refused.
"I don't envy anyone who challenges President [Vladimir] Putin,"
SPS deputy head Boris Nadezhdin said when asked to explain the reason
of the refusals.
Ryzhkov told Vedomosti that he turned down the proposal because Yabloko
leader Grigory Yavlinsky
was not pleased with it. "I cannot agree to the proposal under such
conditions," he said.
In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, Ryzhkov said Yavlinsky was positioning
himself to be the liberals' candidate. "It would give him the opportunity
to rehabilitate himself politically," he said.
Mitrokhin said Yabloko had not even discussed Ryzhkov's candidacy. He
said Yavlinsky's candidacy "could be taken into consideration"
at Sunday's congress.
Ryzhkov, 37, is the former leader of the pro-Kremlin Our Home Is Russia
party. After his party failed to break the 5 percent barrier to get into
the Duma in 1999, he decided not to align himself with any faction and
has been rather critical of the Kremlin's policies in the last Duma.
Fyodorov, 45, served as justice minister in Yegor Gaidar's government
in the early 1990s.
Nadezhdin said SPS and Yabloko should only pick one of their leaders
as candidate if they fail to find a better choice.
"The best decision would be to pick up someone who is not an SPS
or Yabloko leader," he said.
"We are still looking for a third person. If we don't find someone
like Ryzhkov or Fyodorov, then we can think about leaders like Nemtsov
Yavlinsky has run for president twice. In 1996, he came in fourth with
7.41 percent of the vote, and in 2000 he came in third with 5.8 percent.
On Monday, SPS and Yabloko leaders decided to create a single council
comprised of six representatives from SPS and six from Yabloko.
Nadezhdin said that one of the SPS-Yabloko council's main tasks will
be to choose a common candidate for president.
the original at
Presidential elections 2004