| The YABLOKO congress in Moscow region last weekend was
a congress full of surprises. Grigory
Yavlinsky was elected the party leader once again, but his triumph
was somewhat smeared. First, some obscure rival, a certain Yuri Kuznetsov,
deprived Yavlinsky of 25% of delegate votes. Secondly, some dissenters
appeared in the party.
The unpretentious club in the settlement of Moskovski near Moscow is
usually chosen for congresses by the parties that do not exactly have
that much cash available. Party functionaries virtually admit that YABLOKO
has had serious financial problems for about six months, in actual fact
ever since the party's foremost sponsor Mikhail Khodorkovsky was jailed.
Judging by Grigory Yavlinsky's speech, the party was defeated at the parliamentary
elections mostly because of the business tycoon. Yavlinsky called financial
contacts with the YUKOS owner, which had enabled the party to exist without
a care in the world, a major mistake.
"On the one hand, oil is not a weapon or a drug. We have never
permitted YUKOS to push us around. Yes, we openly admitted that Khodorkovsky
was our sponsor. When he was arrested, however, our voters exclaimed,
"You call that a party?!" In fact, we were much too feeble,
and our electorate was claimed by the parties that demanded the confiscation
and division of everything," Yavlinsky complained. As a matter of
fact, it would appear that this lack of firmness and resolution distresses
Yavlinsky. YABLOKO's leader referred to this lack of firmness on five
occasions. The refusal to merge with the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS)
is the only decision Yavlinsky does not want to revise. Anatoly Chubais'
party was sternly castigated in Yavlinsky's report, no less sternly in
fact that Vladimir Putin himself with whom the party "should have
been firmer" too. Yavlinsky called the Union of Right-Wing Forces
a "corporate-criminal structure". At the same time, the party
leader regularly preached the thesis of "a broad democratic coalition"
and a common list for the next Duma elections.
This correspondent asked Yavlinsky in the interval on what was meant
by democratic structures.
"We are prepared to unite with everybody - with the right wing
and with social democrats, provided that they are not followers of Lenin
and Stalin or represent the corporate-criminal structure," Yavlinsky
replied. Asked to be more specific, he merely smiled and said that there
were "lots of great men".
Leaflets signed "YABLOKO Democratic Platform" were scattered
in the conference hall at the moment. The documents were signed by three
delegates - bureau members from Moscow, Irkutsk, and Petrozavodsk. The
dissenters pronounced the establishment of a democratic platform in the
YABLOKO and opposition to the party leadership. "The era when Yavlinsky
alone could persuade enough Russians to vote for the YABLOKO is over.
There is no team of
prominent men. Everybody who is a potential leader and may therefore become
a rival is forced to leave the party," the leaflets stated.
According to the dissenters, this was the first time when the party
failed to pass the 5% barrier, the first time when members of the YABLOKO
presidium failed in single-mandate districts
despite the administrative resources they wielded, the first time when
the party did not participate in the presidential elections and local
elections in major regions of the country.
Asked to comment, YABLOKO's leader said in a composed manner that the
voting on the leadership would resolve everything. It transpired later
that day that one Yuri Kuznetsov from the Sverdlovsk region had polled
25% votes for the first time in the history of the party.
congress of YABLOKO