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"Izvestiya Peterburg", December 6, 2002

Grigory Yavilnsky: It is up to the President to choose

By Anton Mukhin

On the threashold of the elections to the Legislative Assembly [of St.Petersburg] a rare guest - the leader of YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky - visited St. Petersburg and answered the questions of Izvestia's correspondent Anton Mukhin.

Question: Six years ago your party supported at the elections Vladimir Yakovlev and obtained a considerable number of seats in the city government that was virtually transformed into a "party of power". And then YABLOKO joined the opposition.

Grigory Yavlinsky: YABLOKO's team achieved a lot then, first of all, the timely payments of wages for budget workers. We resigned because we were unable to change the situation with corruption and could not block corruption-prone decisions.

Question: But your party has been slowly losing ground with the electorate. Why?

Yavlinsky: It is impossible to occupy the same position for six years - ups and downs are inevitable. In addition, as the President of Russia is very popular in St. Petersburg, part of our St. Petersburg electorate supports at present the parties directly linked with the name of Putin.

Question: Can there be a 'renaissance' of YABLOKO?

Yavlinsky: We have never deceived our voters and never stolen anything from them. There is no other such party in Russia.

Question: Maybe because you simply didn't have the chance to do so?

Yavlinsky: If you have such a wish, you can easily find opportunities to steal and deceive. But we knew that taking this route would mean either stealing together with all of them or observing other doing this.

Question: Can you explain the difference between YABLOKO and the SPS for ordinary voters, using terms other than the language of political economy?

Yavlinsky: Easily. We are concerned primarily with freedom and human rights. Whereas property is the key issue for the SPS. Property is also very important for YABLOKO, but it is not the key issue.

Question: In your opinionis the [institute] of [presidential] plenipotentiaries an efficient instrument of regional policy?

Yavlinsky: No.

Question: It is considered that the [institute] of [presidential] plenipotentiaries in St. Petersburg led to the emergence of the second pole of forces as an alternative to the Smolny (Ed. the city government).

Yavlinsky: If there were normal elections of deputies [of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg] and the governor, there would be no disputes about the third or fifth term [of office] and there would be no need for some alternative pole.

Question: Who could become the next governor?

Yavlinsky: The one indicated by Putin will be elected.

Question: What is your attitude to St. Petersburg?

Yavlinsky: I am very close to S. Petersburg. I first came here when I was ten years old: I lived for two month with my parents in Pushkin (Ed. the suburb of St. Petersburg known for its historic palaces and monuments). I covered the whole of Leningrad (former name of St. Petersburg) on foot then: this is an unforgettable memory. St. Petersburg is an integral part of my picture of the world. The flat where you grew up always remains for you as a brick of the universe.

See also:

Elections to St.Petersburg Legislative Assembly, 2002

"Izvestiya Peterburg", December 6, 2002

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