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Moscow News, December 18, 2003

Democrats Set To Hang Together

Mikhail Zadornov in an interview with Dmitry DOKUCHAEV

Mikhail Zadornov, a Yabloko member, is one of a handful of rightist party representatives who has won a Duma seat, in a tough election struggle in Moscows southwest district. In an interview with MNs Dmitry DOKUCHAEV, Mr. Zadornov talks about his partys dismal performance and the democrats strategy in the new Duma

How come that you won while Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces (SPS) lost?

In the previous Duma, Yabloko had three deputies elected in single-seat constituencies. All the three - Mikhail Yemelyanov, Sergei Popov, and yours truly - have been reelected. Now there is also Galina Khovanskaya, who carried her constituency too - it repeatedly elected her as a Moscow City Duma deputy. Several other Yabloko candidates, who ran in first-past-the-post constituencies - Artemyev, Golov, Mitrokhin, and Rybakov - lost by a tiny margin of 2 percent to 3 percent, as did Irina Yarovaya on Kamchatka, but in this last mentioned instance there was serious ballot rigging in favor of a United Russia representative. In other words, Yabloko candidates did pretty well in single-seat constituencies, but we were not very numerous. The same holds true for the SPS.

So a total of just seven Yabloko and SPS deputies have been elected in single-seat constituencies. What is your action strategy going to be?

Naturally, we will stick together: We have already reached agreement on this score. Furthermore, I hope that we will be joined by some independent deputies who were elected in single-seat constituencies and who hold similar views, such as, e.g., Viktor Pokhmelkin and Vladimir Ryzhkov. In all, there are 10 to 15 people. This is of course too little to form an official association. Our status in the new Duma will become clear next week. We have several tasks to fulfill in this Duma - and they appear to be mutually exclusive: on the one hand, stake out a rightist and democratic position; on the other, influence the decision-making process to the degree possible, and finally, engage in ongoing legislative activity. In addition, I hope that when the SPS and Yabloko have learned their lesson from the latest election campaign, we will be able to establish better interaction between the parties, advancing their interests in parliament. The main thing is to pool our efforts and work out a well-defined, unified line for the future.

In the previous Duma, you had difficulty getting approved as deputy chairman of the Budget Committee on the first go. Today, without support from Duma factions, presumably you have nothing to count on in terms of committee posts?

We will fight for certain positions, but lets face it, the distribution of portfolios in the Duma now does not depend on us. So we should be prepared to see others take these positions. For our part, we will try to do our best in the prevailing situation, knowing full well that it is not in our favor.

Isnt there a danger that the Duma work will become pure formality? As is known, even before, United Russia was directed from the Presidential Staff. Now that the party holds a controlling number of votes it seems that this is where the whole of the Duma is going to be directed from.

There is a grain of truth in what youve said, but it is not the whole truth. The fact is that this past year we have been witnessing contradictions within the Presidential Staff itself where observers singled out at least two wings. As a matter of fact, there are many more than just two. Now the struggle for decision-making powers within the Presidential Staff will be getting even fiercer with deputies coming under pressure from various sides as a result. Furthermore, United Russia is very heterogeneous: There are members with views ranging from socialist to ultraliberal. To control the Duma Council, the party will have to break up into four to five deputy associations while the leaders of these groups will have their own axes to grind. So I do not think there will be smooth, consensus-based decision-making there. Add here yet another important thing: Today our political life is unfolding in a favorable external environment, including above all high oil prices. There is a strong economic drive, so the pie that the ruling authorities have to share out keeps growing. But I do not rule out that in the next political cycle the situation could take a turn for the worse, and then they will start looking for a scapegoat. In such situations, a mono-centric structure is extremely vulnerable. There is no doubt that, should this happen, the federal center will be held responsible. There is no way the entire blame could be laid at Chubais door this time around.

You have credentials primarily as an economic expert. Are you prepared to change your hat and start making policy statements?

To be frank, this is a question that I am seriously considering right now. Throughout my life - in the academic community, the Cabinet, and the State Duma - I have been pursuing what is to me purely professional activity: economics. Of course I feel far more at home in it. Indeed, today there is a need to give higher priority to political matters. But this will only become possible when the rightist parties recognize their mistakes and work out a unified plan of action.

Are you not tempted to join the party of power, as did, say, Budget Committee Chairman Alexander Zhukov, whose economic views, as far as I know, are similar to yours?

Indeed, Zhukov and I hold fairly similar views on economics, which only goes to show that United Russia is not a homogenous party. But I have no desire to join the party of power. This applies not only to myself but also to our colleagues elected from single-seat constituencies that we have compared notes with.

Is it possible that a situation could develop in the Duma when you might choose to resign?

No, because I won in a very tough and bitter struggle - not even against a particular rival but against what is known as the administrative resource. People who live in the southwest of Moscow chose me to represent their interests, and I am simply duty bound to measure up to their expectations. I live in the University district myself and I personally know thousands of voters who have taken their problems to me. And they supported me, hoping that I would be able to resolve their problems. So I must see it through to the end.


See also:

the original at
Moscow News

State Duma elections 2003

Moscow News, December 18, 2003

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