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Gazeta, No. 92, May 2003

YABLOKO Sets Its Eyes on Foreign, Interior and Foreign Trade Ministries

By Olga Redichkina, Rustem Falyakhov

While the YABLOKO faction is gathering votes of no-confidence in the present government in the State Duma, its leader Grigory Yavlinsky is preparing a place for himself in the new Cabinet. He announced that "he doesn't rule out the possibility of becoming a member of the new Cabinet, which might be formed after the State Duma elections." However, Yavlinsky is still not ready for a compromise: "We will not exchange our values for positions and appointments."

On May 26, 2003, during a visit to St. Petersburg Yavlinsky announced that "YABLOKO is willing to join the Cabinet or to cooperate with it, if the future Cabinet conducts sound economic policy aimed at raising the living standards of the Russian people, instead of being a government protecting the interests of big business and creating favourable conditions for only the Russian elite. "

Earlier, the YABLOKO leader discerned Putin's intention to force the government to resign in the Presidential Address. He said, "This conclusion derives from the President's remarks about new principles for forming the government on the basis of a parliamentary majority according to the results of the elections." Yavlinsky is definitely ready to join such a government. However, he warned: "We won't exchange the values cherished by YABLOKO for posts and appointments." YABLOKO stongly criticises the current Cabinet and is ready to move a vote of no confidence.

The party will start collecting signatures under a corresponding document at the beginning of June.

Nevertheless, while the present government is still in place, YABLOKO has to do all it can to overcome the 5-percent eligibility barrier and gain seats in the State Duma and form a large enough faction there. After all, if the idea of forming a party-based Cabinet materializes, clearly all posts will be distributed according to the size and influence of various factions.

Currently the YABLOKO representative heads only one committee in the State Duma - the Committee for Education and Sciences. According to expert opinion, the YABLOKO representative Alexander Shishlov is a highly-qualified professional. It would be quite logical to assume that in the new government he might become Minister of Education.

According to YABLOKO's leader, as well as the Ministry of Education, the party has set its sights on the Foreign, Interior and Foreign Economic ministries.

The centrists were quite receptive towards the idea of working together with Yavlinsky. Member of the General Council of United Russia Alexander Vladislavlev told our Gazeta correspondent: "I welcome the statement by Griogory Yavlinsky. Perhaps, his second attempt will be more successful than his first. In case of a failure, his political career will definitely be finished."

Everybody knows that Mikhail Khodorkovsky, head of YUKOS, is one of the main sponsors of YABLOKO. However, the analysts tend to believe that Yavlinsky's desire to gain seats in the government can hardly be attributed to "guidelines" provided by the oligarch. For instance, scholar-in-residence of the Carnegie Foundation Andrei Ryabov stated in an interview with Gazeta: "I believe that the oligarch cannot issue direct orders to the YABLOKO leadership, but the positions of Yavlinsky and Khodorkovsky definitely coincide. Mr. Khodorkovsky doesn't need a government consisting of Pekhtins and Sliskas; he needs efficient people, capable of accomplishing something." The political scientist sees "a clear understanding of the current situation" in Yavlinsky's statement: "The President hinted his readiness to part with the current Cabinet, and the leader of YABLOKO is preparing fertile grounds for himself in advance. The YABLOKO party with a fair amount of good professionals cannot stay in opposition forever." However, Ryabov doesn't agree with the prediction that Yavlinsky himself will join the government: "Some members of the party might be invited to join the government, but nobody is going to offer Yavlinsky the post of Prime Minister or, at least, of Deputy Prime Minister, and any other position wouldn't correspond to his level."


Gazeta, No. 92, May 2003

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