Grigory Yavlinsky, the shining light of Russia's liberal
movement and a leading presidential contender, was in
hospital yesterday recovering from severe chest pains
and is unlikely to released for another two days.
His absence from the political scene comes at a
critical time as Yevgeny Primakov, prime minister,
completes the formation of his government and tries
to set the country on a new course.
Mr. Yavlinsky, 46, first publicly proposed Mr.
Primakov as a prime ministerial candidate, has seen his
political fortunes rise in recent weeks, drawing support
from some of Russia's most powerful business leaders.
An opinion poll by the VTsIOM polling agency over the
weekend, showed Mr. Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko
party, closing the gap on other presidential contenders.
Mr. Yavlinsky won 12 per cent putting him just behind
Yuri Lizhkov, Moscow's populist mayor, with 13 per cent.
Gennagy Zyuganov, the communist party leader, and Alexander
Lebed, the general-turned-governor of the Siberian region
of Krasnoyarsk, came out top with 17
per cent apiece.
A former amateur boxer who appeared to be in robust health,
Mr. Yavlinsky was taken ill last Friday and admitted himself
to hospital. His condition was "satisfactory" according
to the Yabloko press service.
Earlier on Friday, Mr. Yavlinsky had warned of a "very
deep moral crisis" which had to be resolved by the country's
leadership if Russia were to avoid civil unrest.
"Revolutions in this country happen not when there are
economic crisis but when, as in 1917 and 1991, people
reject power and say No to the authorities,"
he said in interview with the Financial Times.
Mr. Yavlinsky said he had rejected an offer by Mr. Primakov
to join the government as deputy prime minister in charge
of social affairs. Mr. Yavlinsky said he did not
want to be isolated "decoration" in the cabinet
and would only join the government alongside a team
of 10-15 Yabloko MPs, who could make a real difference
to economic reforms.
Mr. Yavlinsky, who came fourth in the first round of
the 1996 presidential elections, said he aiming to doubled
Yabloko's representation in Russia's 450-seat parliament
to about 100 seats in next year's elections.