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YABLOKO and European democrats discussed the relations between Russia and the EU and supported Russian NGOs

Press Release, May 8, 2013

The YABLOKO party, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Swedish People's Party in Finland and the Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC) held in Helsinki a seminar entitled "The Future of EU-Russia Relations: the Liberal View".

The seminar was attended by 250 people from Russia, Finland and other European countries - politicians, civil society activists, political scientists, experts, journalists and students. Representatives of Russian non-governmental organisations (GOLOS, the Moscow Helsinki Group), and independent press ("Novaya Gazeta") that were subject to increasing pressure from the authoritarian government were also invited to the seminar.

The European Union was represented by Carl Haglund, Minister of Defence of Finland and leader of the Swidish People’s Party, Kristiina Ojuland, MEP, and Nils Torvalds, MEP, Astrid Thors, member of the Finnish Parliament and Vice-President of ALDE and Martin Angeby, Secretary-General of the Swedish International Liberal Centre.

Grigory Yavlinsky, founder and one of YABLOKO’s leaders, delivered a key report "Russia in Ten Years." Valery Borschev, Chairman of YABLOKO’s Human Rights Faction and member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, and Galina Mikhaleva, Secretary of YABLOKO’s Political Committee, participated in panel discussions on human rights in Russia, and trade and economic relations between Russia and the EU.

Grigory Yavlinsky stressed in his speech that only cooperation and integration of Russia and the EU will allow both the sides to take a decent place in the world of the 21st century, and give them the opportunity to compete with the North American and Asian world economic growth centers in the nearest perspective. According to YABLOKO’s leader, the main obstacles for Russia’s integration into Europe are Russia’s domestic problems, such as "primitive authoritarianism", corruption and "deformation of the principle of freedom of conscience"...

Keynote speech by Grigory Yavlinsky "Russia in Ten Years"

Seminar "The Future of EU-Russian Relations – The Liberal Viewpoint". Helsinki, April 29, 2013

The Future of EU-Russia Relations - The Liberal Viewpoint

Press Release, the ALDE party, May 1, 2013

The Future of EU-Russian Relations - The Liberal Viewpoint" seminar was held in Helsinki, Finland on the 29th of April and gathered over 200 people in the audience. The hosts of the seminar were the Swedish People’s Party in Finland (SFP) and the Swedish International Liberal Center (SILC) and it was arranged in cooperation with Russian ALDE member party Yabloko and Svenska Bildningsförbundet.

The seminar was divided into three parts, starting with introductory remarks from Carl Haglund, Minister of Defence and SFP Party Chair, Martin Ängeby, Secretary General of SILC and Astrid Thors MP, ALDE Party Vice President, followed by key note addresses from Yabloko founder, Dr. Grigory Yavlinsky and MEP Kristiina Ojuland. The seminar continued with panel discussions on human rights as well as trade and economic relations in the afternoon.

Carl Haglund commenced by pointing out that a well-functioning relationship between Russia and the EU is beneficial for both parties, which was echoed in later discussions. Also the fact that the EU is Russia’s biggest and Russia EU’s third biggest trading partner was repeated during the day. Peace through trade is a fundament for the EU and something to continue working on. It took 18 years of bargaining before Russia joined the WTO in August 2012 and there still remain obstacles in the trading policy.

EU-Russia cooperation must be based on mutual respect. The importance of the EU putting pressure on Russia to respect freedom of speech and human rights was underlined during the seminar. The ”foreign agent”-law, the Sergei Magnitsky case and other anti-democratic laws are alarming. Russia is not interested in being led by the hand towards democracy – the country must do the work itself when it comes to democracy and human rights. Some of the people working for these values are in jail, but many were at the seminar – including the founder of the Yabloko party.

In his key note speech Dr. Girgory Yavlinsky stated: “The important question is not how long Putin is going to stay in power – the important question is what is going to be instead of him? All other questions are secondary. Then we will be able to speak about elections et cetera.”

MEP Kristiina Ojuland reminded that the Russian Parliamentary elections in 2011 were the real starting point of the lack of trust. They were clearly not free and fair and that has also changed the European Parliament’s view on Russia. Corruption and VISA freedom for Russian citizens were also addressed during the seminar which, thanks to simultaneous translation into Russian and English, attracted a vast number of participants. The seminar has been recorded and can be viewed on www.sfp.fi/russia.

Alexei Arbatov, foreign policy expert: Russia has obviously taken a course towards alienation from the USA and Western Europe

Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, September 28, 2012.

A nervous reaction displayed by the Russian authorities for the PACE resolution on the implementation of Moscow’s obligations on the democratic development [of Russia] which has not been promulgated yet, is caused, according to experts, by two main factors. First, the Kremlin reorients its foreign policy and foreign economic strategy from Europe to Eurasia. Secondly, the recent repressive policies towards the civil society will inevitably affect [Russia’s] behaviour on the international arena. Alexei Arbatov, international relations expert and Director of the Center for International Security of the Russian Academy of Sciences, talks about this in his interview to the Radio Liberty...

YABLOKO leaders had a meeting with Bundestag deputies
Press Release, March 16, 2012.

YABLOKO leader Sergei Mitrokhin and Galina Mikhalyova, Executive Secretary of the Political Committee, had a meeting with Bundestag deputies from the Free Democratic Party. The German side was represented by Patrick Kurth, MP, and Serkan Toeren, MP, and Maximilian Spinner, Secretary of the Political Department of German Embassy.

Deputies of German Parliament were interested by the progress and assessment of the Russian parliamentary and presidential elections, growth of public activity in Russia and prospects of Russia’s political development. The discussion also evolved around the Russia-EU relations and Germany’s role in their improvement. "Visa-free regime for the Russian citizens to the EU and an anti-ballistic missile defence system that could be developed jointly with NATO are the initiatives of our party that we put forward as early as in 1990s," Sergei Mitrokhin stressed.

A meeting of YABLOKO leaders with Guy Verhofstadt, President of the Liberal Group in the European Parliament
Press Release, March 5, 2012.

Grigory Yavlinsky said that the main objective of all the opposition forces in Russia should be radical change in the socio-political system rather than simply a replacement of top officials. He said this during a meeting with representatives of the European Parliament's Liberal Group (ALDE). The sides discussed the political situation in Russia after the presidential elections and prospects for further development.

The meeting was held on March 5 in YABLOKO’s office. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the liberals in the European Parliament and ex Prime Minister of Belgium, Renaldas Vaisbrodas, Political Adviser, ALDE, Sergei Mitrokhin, YABLOKO Chairman, Galina Mikhalyova, Executive Secretary of the Political Council and head of the Gender faction and Olga Radayeva, International Secretary...

Time to Think, and Not to Lean on Russia. By Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexander Shishlov

The New York Times, November 8, 2011

...Yabloko has been active in Russian politics for almost 20 years. Fully aware of our responsibility to Russian citizens, who aspire to liberty and justice, our party has managed to survive and retain its potential against continuous and severe administrative pressure. Our work has been not only difficult, it has been dangerous, and in some cases fatal. Larisa Yudina, leader of the Yabloko branch in Kalmykia and a journalist, was killed; so were Farid Babayev, leader of Yabloko in Dagestan, and Yuri Shchekochikhin, a Duma deputy and investigative journalist who was investigating corruption in the secret services.

It is true that elections in Russia today are not free and fair. But this is due not only to the fact that Kasyanov’s party was denied registration and thus cannot take part in the elections. Russian elections ceased being free and fair after the presidential elections in 1996. Unfortunately, back then European liberals did not protest as loudly as they are doing now. (In fact, the electoral system was similarly defective in 2003 when Kasyanov was prime minister under President Vladimir Putin).

Today, however, this is how Russian elections are held and there are no other means for a peaceful, nonviolent change in political course and change of government. Liberals at Yabloko proceed from the premise that an outright rejection of all opportunities for peaceful change and the adoption of actions based on the principle that “it has to get worse before it gets better” is irresponsible and leads to a dead-end...

The original publication by the New York Times

YABLOKO's Olga Vlasova on the initiative of the Youth Public Chamber of Russia on elimination of visas between Russia and the EU

Press Release, October 12, 2011

Video: Russia Today, October 11, 2011


YABLOKO leaders meet with PACE Rapporteurs

Press Release, July 14, 2011

On July 14 YABLOKO leaders meet with members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rapporteurs on the monitoring of Russia, Mr Andreas Gross and Mr Gyorgy Frunda, and Ms. Agnieszka Nachilo, Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the Monitoring Committee. The rapporteurs are preparing a report on the monitoring of Russia's obligations and commitments entered upon accession to the Council of Europe for the presentation in the Parliamentary Assembly...

Youth YABLOKO protested against anti European Court of Human Rights draft law

Press Release, July 1, 2011

Today young activists from the Youth YABLOKO conducted a serious a one-person pickets against adoption of a draft law (submitted by Senator Alexander Torshin) envisaging that Russia should not implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. The State Duma had been planning to adopt the draft law in the first reading but due to a heated public discussion around the draft law decided to postpone the discussion of the issue...

Hands Off from the European Court of Human Rights!

Statement by the YABLOKO party, July 1, 2011

The YABLOKO party demands that Mr.Torshin’s draft bills limiting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights should be either revoked by the author or declined by the State Duma.
A ban for the Russian judges to apply the decisions of the European Court without their confirmation by the Constitutional Court will lead to even greater degradation of the Russian judicial system. The Constitutional Court can not count on any trust from the Russian citizens after the statements servile to the executive authority and voiced by its Chair Valery Zorkin.
The citizens of Russia who became victims of unjust court consider the European Court as the last hope to achieve justice...

Picketing against adoption of the draft law envisaging overriding ruling of the European Court to be held by the Russian parliament

Press Release, June 29, 2011

On Friday, July 1, the Moscow Youth YABLOKO organisation will hold a series of one persons pickets by the State Duma against adoption of the draft law envisaging overriding ruling of the European Court.

The State Duma plans to adopt this drat law in the reading on Friday.

The action will start at Okhotny Ryad 1 at 9:30 a.m.

See also:

Russian Legislation Takes Aim At Human Rights Court In Strasbourg by Tom Balmforth. RFE/RL. June 28, 2011

"Russia - Europe: Partnership for Modernisation"
Vesti-Moscow TV channel,
April 18, 2011.

"Russia - Europe: Partnership for Modernisation" � such is the title of the international forum taking place at Novy Arbat street, Moscow on Monday. The key topic of the meeting is establishing partnership agreements between Russian and European manufacturers.

According to representatives of the YABLOKO party who participated in the forum, a large-scale organisation of joint business should start with abolishing of the visa regime between Russia and EU member states. In addition, important changes should be introduced into laws.

�It is very important so that the visa regime is abolished and we insist on this. And it is very important that our institutions become consistent with the European institutions. I mean here laws referring to functioning of business and transparency of state bodies for all the citizens,� stressed Galina Mikhalyova, Executive Secretary of the Political Committee of the YABLOKO party...

Norwegian liberals greeted proposals by YABLOKO’s leader on closer cooperation of Russian and Europe with a storm of applause

Press Release, April 4, 2011.

YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin made a speech at a congress of Norwegian liberal party Venstre on April 3, 2011. His speech was devoted to the issues of European integration, Russia’s role in this process, as well as problems Russia encounter in its development as a democratic state. Over 500 people were present at the congress: delegates of the Venstre party and leaders of foreign sister parties.

In his speech Sergei Mitrokhin told to his foreign colleagues about the history and the structure of the YABLOKO party, as well as the liberal and democratic values YABLOKO have been advocating for almost 20 years already.

Sergei Mitrokhin also said that the approach of the Western leaders based on Realpolitik had failed. YABLOKO’s leader called the EU to develop a single strategy in its relations with Russia: “The lack of firm approach to Russia when liberal values or human rights are concerned was regarded as a kind of carte blanche by our elites. And now we all have what we have”...

YABLOKO welcomes European resolution on rule of law in Russia
LI News Bulletin, Issue 221, February 25, 2011

Following an initiative by ALDE, the European Parliament last week adopted a resolution on the rule of law in Russia. Guy Verhofstadt MEP and Kristiina Ojuland MEP wrote an open letter to President Putin outlining ALDE's paragraph in the resolution, and stating: “Russia is an important neighbour and has a duty, through its commitments as a member of the Council of Europe, to live up to European standards of democracy, fundamental rights and the Rule of Law”. LI full member YABLOKO welcomes these efforts to facilitate the establishment of the rule of law in their country and develop partner relations between the EU and Russia. “We have always advocated the view that the work should be based on universal human liberal values, rather than Realpolitik. Only on this basis can we build a democratic law-governed state, and create a sustainable competitive partnership between the EU and Russia. The discussion in the European Parliament demonstrates that increasingly more European politicians have begun sharing this approach”, says YABLOKO leader Sergei Mitrokhin...


Van Baalen: Gadaffi no longer legitimate leader of Libya
LI President raises concern over situation in Burundi
FDP’s in success Hamburg elections grants it re-entry to state parliament
Central American liberal leaders visit Germany
Political violence shakes Côte d’Ivoire
Wave of protests reaches Morocco
SLS’s Petrovic becomes Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo

YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin called European Parliament members to abolish Realpolitik in Europe’s relations with Russia

February 10, 2011.

On February 9, 2011, YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin made a speech at the seminar Prospects and Challenges to Russian Modernisation organised in the European Parliament by the ALDE group.

Describing the present situation in Russia he said that "the prospects for Russian modernisation are vague, when challenges are real and numerous." Mitrokhin said that the main challenges to for Russia were its totalitarian past and oligarchic present.

"Our totalitarian past – the 70 years of communism –destroyed not only Russian civil society, but even a society as such, and eradicated the concept of property owners", Mitrokhin noted. According to Mitrokhin the reforms of 1990s failed to create democracy in Russia, instead they created oligarchy and shut down the possibility of forming a broad layer of full-fledged owners in the country, and without such a layer democracy is not possible...

Russia can never modernise without a liberal society based on the rule of law - Verhofstadt

Press Release, ALDE, February 9, 2010

...Opening the seminar, ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt said:
"Russia will always be an important neighbour and strategic partner for the EU. But we shall not be silent when violations of human rights and the rule of law are common place. Our commitment is to the Russian people, who deserve better.
"Council of Europe, OSCE or WTO membership entails obligations. For a serious international player that Russia aspires to be, meeting international commitments is paramount.
"Russian authorities would be well advised to pursue a more liberal agenda. This means introducing true competition, guaranteeing political freedoms, distinguishing between oligarchs and politicians, and most importantly adhering to the rule of law.
"Modernisation of Russia will only be successful if this liberal agenda is first put into practice. Building on the current flawed economic and political system will lead to nothing."

Kriistina Ojuland MEP (ALDE, Estonian Reform Party), former Foreign Minister of Estonia and ALDE spokesperson on EU Russian relations, said:
"We believe that a modernisation of Russia should not only entail economic and market reforms but also calls for greater democracy, political freedoms, and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
"I welcome the European Parliament's initiative to establish an early monitoring group in order to observe the preparations of the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.
"I would very much welcome a prompt resolution by the European parliament on the situation regarding the rule of law in Russia."

Round table “Russia and Europe: a View from Kaliningrad” took place in Kaliningrad

Press Release, January 22, 2011

On January 21, a round table “Russia and Europe: a View from Kaliningrad” took place in Kaliningrad on the initiative of the Kaliningrad branch of YABLOKO.

“Relations between Russia and the European Union, first of all the problem of abolishing the visa regime, is not an abstract, but a vitally important problem for the residents of the Kaliningrad region,” said Vladimir Vukolov, deputy chair of the regional parliament of the Kaliningrad region and representative of the Elder Generation public organisation...

Sergei Mitrokhin proposed to begin introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and EU from Russia’s exclave - the Kaliningrad region

Press Release, November 20, 2010

Chair of the YABLOKO party Sergei Mitrokhin and leader of YABLOKO’s Pensioners of Russia faction Alexei Borschenko visited the conference of the Kaliningrad branch of YABLOKO. The conference discussed the regional list for elections to the regional parliament (regional Duma), that will take place in March 2011. In his speech at the conference Mitrokhin told about the activities of the party targeted at solving the problems of the residents of the Kaliningrad region. According to Mitrokhin, one of the key directions here would be introduction a visa-free regime with the EU member countries...

European liberals’ congress adopts a resolution of nuclear disarmament motioned jointly by German FDP and YABLOKO

Press Release, October 15, 2010

Today, on October 15, the Congress of the European Liberals and Democrats party, ELDR, (Helsinki, October 14-15) adopted resolution Nuclear Disarmament and Arms Control – Using the New Momentum in the Debate for a “Global Zero” motioned jointly by the German FDP party and YABLOKO. “ELDR perceives nuclear disarmament and arms control as a corner stone of the global security architecture. ELDR explicitly commits itself to the establishment of a world free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. However, ELDR wants the progress in the current debate to have an impact on conventional disarmament,” runs the resolution...

...Yesterday on October 14, YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin representing the party at the ELDR Congress met with Ambassador of Russia in Finland Alexander Rumyantsev for discussion of some issues of Russia-Finland relations. In addition, Mitrokhin and Rumyantsev (who had previously headed the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy in 2001-2005) discussed the problems of the nuclear energy sector.

European liberals’ Congress discusses relations between Russia and EU

Press Release, October 14, 2010

Today, on October 14, a congress by the European Liberal Democrats party (ELDR) opened in Helsinki. YABLOKO is a full member of ELDR. A welcoming address to over 500 delegates of the Congress was made by Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck MEP, ELDR President, and Mari Kiviniemi, Prime Minister of Finland. In her speech Mari Kiviniemi dwelled upon relations between Russia and Finland stating that Russia was “the key economic partner for Finland”. Prime Minister of Finland expressed her opinion that one of the main problems for Russia at present was overcoming Russia’s dependence on raw. Mari Kiviniemi also expressed her hope that Russian-Finnish cooperation will be broadening in all the spheres: economy, education and culture, humanitarian exchanges and other...

In his speech ... Sergei Mitrokhin told about the situation with the recent elections in Russia and also discussed a number of YABLOKO’s foreign policy initiatives...

Grigory Yavlinsky participates in the Forum 2000 Conferences

Press Release, October 14, 2010

Member of YABLOKO's Political Committee and founder of YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky participated in the Forum-2000 Conferences in Pragye on October 10-12, 2010. The idea for the Forum 2000 Conference originated in 1997, when former Czech President Václav Havel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, and philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa invited world leaders to Prague to discuss the challenges humanity was facing on the threshold of a new millennium. Since then, Forum 2000 evolved into a successful and widely recognized conference series, where distinguished guests continue to address a diverse international community on topics ranging from religious dialogue to human rights and national security.
According to former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell, “The best way to turn philosophy into action is to bring together the philosophers and actors as President Havel does at Forum 2000.” Over the years, Forum 2000 has also become a true Prague tradition, followed closely by the media, political, intellectual, and business elites, and the interested public...

Bundestag members visited YABLOKO’s office

Press Release, September 6, 2010.

On September 6 YABLOKO received the delegation of the German Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei, FDP) in YABLOKO’s Moscow office. The FDP delegation included Bundestag members Dr.Reiner Stinner, Marina Schuster, Dr. Bijan Djir-Sarai and Patrick Kurth, staff members of the FDP parliamentary faction, Director of the Moscow Bureau of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Sasha Tamm and staff members of the German Embassy. FDP together with the Christian Democrats forms a coalition German federal government. FDP leader Guido Westerwelle is currently German Foreign Minister...

YABLOKO proposed to elect PACE via direct vote

Press Release, August 30, 2010.

Such a proposal YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin put forward at the European Forum Alpbach. The European Forum Alpbach is a kind of analogue of the World Economic Forum in Davos, however, Alpbach focuses on the problems of European integration.

According to Sergei Mitrokhin, the first step in the way of Russia’s integration should be raising of the role of the Council of Europe and new principles of PACE formation. “The Council of Europe should become an instrument for involving Russia into the system of European values, European standards in politics, economy, protection of human rights and environment,” Sergei Mitrokhin said. YABLOKO’s leader proposed to European politicians to make CE more influential via direct elections to PACE with mandatory control over elections in the member states by the Council of Europe. Mitrokhin is also certain that this would be also important for Russia and its movement along democratic way of development.
Debating with RF Ambassador in the EU Vladimir Chizov YABLOKO’s leader raised an issue of development of a common EU strategy towards Russia. According to Sergei Mitrokhin, “this should be a consistent EU strategy towards Russia based on integration rather than confrontation”...

European Parliament members meet with YABLOKO’s leaders

Press Release, July 26, 2010.

On June 26 YABLOKO held a meeting with the delegation of the European Liberals, Democrats and Reformers party (ELDR) – Mrs. Annemie Neyts, ELDR President, Mrs.Kristiina Ojuland, MEP, Mr. Michael Jensen, member of Danish parliament and Mr.Robert Plummer, ELDR Political Advisor.

Opening the meeting YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin proposed to discuss the prospects of further cooperation between ELDR and ELDR full member the YABLOKO party.

Member of YABLOKO’s Political Committee Grigory Yavlinsky said that the EU has not yet developed a single strategy for cooperation with Russia, therefore development of such a strategy can become a task of ELDR and its faction in the European Parliament. And YABLOKO can help in development of such a strategy. "The absence of a well-developed European strategy as regards integration with Russia is one of the key obstacles in development of relations between Russia and Europe. YABLOKO’s proposals and some provisions of our party programme could form the basis for such a strategy," Yavlinsky said.

YABLOKO’s leaders also dwelled upon some aspects of such a strategy. Thus, Sergei Mitrokhin proposed to European liberals to more actively support YABLOKO’s initiative on abolishing visas between the EU and Russia. He called the visa regime “a rudiment of the Iron Curtain preventing assimilation of the European standards by the Russian citizens”...

YABLOKO’s leader made a speech at the Executive Committee of Liberal International

Press Release, June 13, 2010

On June 11 YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin made a speech at the Executive Committee of Liberal International in Berlin. As Sergei Mitrokhin’s speech was scheduled in the agenda item “Human Rights in the Authoritarian States”, he spoke about police breaking YABLOKO’s picket by the Russian parliament which was conducted against adoption of the law “on preventive measures against extremism”, as well as breaking of a peaceful rally on the Triumfalnaya square in Moscow on May 31.

The participants of the Executive Committee also received Sergei Mitrokhin’s report “Russia and European Integration”. In this report YABLOKO’s leader once again stressed the necessity to work out a single strategy for EU interaction with Russia, which should be based on integration, rather than confrontation. According to Mitrokhin, the first step in realisation of this strategy would be introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and the European Union.
Another example of realization of this uniform strategy, runs the report, may be the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defence system (ABM) as a joint project of the RF and NATO countries. “Both the West and Russia will profit from such cooperation and lose from confrontation, as democracy can not develop in anti-Western hysteria”, Mitrokhin stressed.

The report also indicates that cooperation between Russia and the European Union should take place in the field of environmental safety too.

According to Mitrokhin, “the present political and economic situation in the country can be characterised as the ongoing stagnation which began under Putin. Russia’s modernisation announced by President Medvedev has been taking place in words only”...

YABLOKO’s Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexander Shishlov discussed the PACE reform and the Babyev case

www.yavlinsky.ru, April 26, 2010

The key issues on the agenda of discussions between YABLOKO members Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexander Shishlov meetings and PACE politicians are the reforms in PACE and the Council of Europe and drawing public attention to the Babayev case (leader of the Dagestan YABLOKO and candidate to the State Duma Farid Babayev was murdered in 2007, the trial has been still going on).

On April 26-27 the founder of the YABLOKO party Grigory Yavlinsky and member of YABLOKO’s Bureau and ex First Vice Chair of the ALDE Group, PACE, Alexander Shishlov will be in Strasburg on the invitation of one of PACE’s factions - the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE).

Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexander Shishlov will propose a number of changes to the charter documents of PACE and CE. “The reforms are necessary so that to prevent PACE’s turning into a kind of small UN,” Grigory Yavlinsky stated at a press-conference earlier today...

Grigory Yavlinsky to visit PACE

www.yavlinsky.ru, April 24, 2010

On April 26-27 Grigory Yavlinsky will have a number of meetings in PACE. Grigory Yavlinsky’s schedule includes meetings with Mr Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Melvut Çavusoglu, President of the PACE, rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee on Russia, Mr Andreas Gross and Mr Gyorgy Frunda, Mr Dick Marty and rapporteur on the North Caucasus, as well as a speech at the meeting of the Alliance of Liberal and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

The Spring session of PACE will take place in Strasburg on April 26-30 and will be devoted to the consequences of the economic crisis, the war between Georgia and Russia and other issues...

The Youth branch of YABLOKO calls to introduce a visa-free regime between Russia and EU during its action by EU representation in Moscow

Press Release, April 5, 2010

An action by the Youth branch of the YABLOKO party “To Europe without Visas” took place by EU representation in Moscow today, on the day on coming into force of the Visa Code of the EU. Young YABLOKO’s activists were holding flags of Russia and the European Union and were chanting slogans “Russia is a part of Europe!”, “To Europe without visas!” and “No wasting time in queues by the consulate departments!” “A visa-free entrance of the Russian citizens to Europe conditions Russia’s becoming an integral part of Europe,” Maxim Kruglov, one of the leader of the Youth YABLOKO said. “Young people would like to get education in Europe, to travel there and to see how Europeans live,” he added.

YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin also came to the Embassy to support the young activists. Mitrokhin said that the initiative of elimination of visa barriers between Russia and EU belongs to YABLOKO. For the first time this idea was proposed by the Yabloko faction of the Russian parliament in 1995. “This idea was supported by Russia’s Foreign Ministry after a long period of our talks and negotiations with them,” Mitrokhin said. YABLOKO's leader also raised the issue of a visa-free regime the congress and meetings of the ELDR party (of which YABLOKO is a fully-fledged member), as well as the meetings of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE), the third largest group of the European Parliament...

European liberals to discuss a visa-free regime between Russia and the EU

Press Release. March 11, 2010

YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin is going to get support to YABLOKO’s initiative on introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and the EU from European liberals during the annual meeting of ELDR Council which will take place in Rome on March 12-13.

On the threashold of the meeting Russian Vedomosti newspaper published an article by Finnish Foreign Minister Mr.Alexander Stubb where he stated the adherence of Finland to the agreement between the RF and the EU on facilitation of the visa regime which came into force in summer 2007, as well as called the Russian authorities “to concretize and accelerate” the work in this direction. “Finland would welcome a visa-free regime between the EU and Russia and will spare no effort for hitting this goal,” Mr. Stubb stated. “I hope that Russian leaders will have enough insistence and political will so that to facilitate the necessary reforms,” he wrote.

Sergei Mitrokhin discussed the problem of introduction of the visa-free regime at the meeting with Ambassador of the Republic of Finland to the Russian Federation Matti Anttonen on February 17.

YABLOKO’s leader supports the head of Russia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry

Press Release. February 24, 2010

YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin welcomes today’s statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation on introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and EU.

“We hope that consultations conducted by experts will reach a solution in the nearest perspective and we shall be able to speak about definite time [for implementation of the visa-free regime] then. Russia is ready to transfer to a visa-free regime with Russia already tomorrow,” Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, told the journalists after his negotiations with Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union.

European liberals welcome Russia to the European Union

Press Release. February 3, 2010

YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin called to the activisation of efforts in the introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and the European Union at the meeting of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) taking place in Brussels today. ALDE is the third largest faction in the European Parliament holding the balance between the right and the left.

Sergei Mitrokhin told in his speech that “the European Union should work out a strategy for interaction with Russia based on integration rather than confrontation”. “The European Union should initiate the projects that would involve and initiate the Russian society and elite into the European values and approaches,” he said. According to Mitrokhin, such a strategy can ensure Russia’s movement along the European way of development...

According to Mitrokhin, the idea of abolishing visas between Russia and the EU was proposed as early as in 1995 by the YABLOKO faction in the Russian parliament. “We specially invited then Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Igor Ivanov and persuaded him that this initiative was not a fantasy,” Mitrokhin said. He also noted that in 2003 Ivanov shared these ideas with his Italian counterpart.

A number of MPs of the European Parliament supported the idea of development of a new European strategy in relations with Russia and agreed with Mitrokhin that the European Union had not developed such a strategy yet. Some MPs also supported the proposals on the earliest introduction of a visa-free regime and also stated that they would welcome Russia’s perspective joining the European Union...

On elimination of visa regime between Russia and the EU

Statement by the Party Chairman. February 1, 2010

The Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO considers abolishing of the visa barrier separating the European Union and Russia be the most important and a very necessary step towards RF-EU integration.
The advantages that both the sides will get in solving this problem considerably overweight the bureaucratic problems that may seem insurmountable today.

We are certain that the issue of elimination the visa barrier between Russia and Europe should be examined and solved by politicians rather than bureaucrats. A political will towards strategic decision-making will enable us to find constructive ways out in such issues as, for example, the readmission problem.

We would like to specially stress that freedom of movement within Great Europe is not reduced for the Russian citizens to facilitation of their business, study or tourist trips (albeit this is also very important). This means their normal life within a single European civilization on the basis of shared principles. And this issue has become especially acute when a visa barrier separated us from our closest Eastern European neighbours as close interaction with them has always been and continue to be very important when we speak about European trends in Russia.

On the need of further steps for creation of a joint Russian-European ABM system

Statement by Chairman of the Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO, September 21, 2009

The Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO considers that urgent conclusion of multi-lateral agreements on creation of an anti-ballistic missile defence (ABM) system for Europe jointly with the USA, NATO and the European Union is a challenging and strategically important task for Russia.

Implementation of this project is of global significance. At the expected rates of nuclear missile proliferation, the number of potential threats of missile attacks against Russia, the US, Europe and any country of the world will only broaden. A joint ABM system of the technologically developed states and Russia as a country with one of the largest nuclear missile potentials will become the most important element for protection of the planet from nuclear threats in the 21st century. For Europe creation of ballistic missile defence (BMD) jointly with Russia will represent the first large step towards creation of such a system and will be also important for raising the efficiency of nuclear non-proliferation policy.

YABLOKO calls to change Russia�s foreign policy
Press release, July 3, 2009

�Current trends towards growth of authoritarianism and corruption, neoimperialism, rehabilitation of Stalin�s regime, unbridled anti-Western propaganda in the mass media create a serious obstacle for efficient foreign and defence policies, as well as domestic and economic policies. This trend should be reversed,� runs YABLOKO�s programme declaration on Russia�s foreign policy.


Grigory Yavlinsky discussed with representatives of the European Union the measures to introduce a visa-free regime between Russia and EU countries
Press release, July 17, 2003

"We agreed to create a working group to develop further these proposals," said Grigory Yavlinsky to journalists after the meeting.


The Liberal Group of PACE approved the idea of visa-free regime for trips of Russian citizens to EU countries
Press release, June 21, 2003

..."elimination of the visa regime between European Union and Russia will in perspective become an important step in the development of economic, political and cultural cooperation between EU and Russia which is in line with the idea of a Single Europe without any demarcation lines."


Vice Speaker of the State Duma Vladimir Lukin proposes the introduction of a visa-free regime for Russian and European students
Press release, May 20, 2003.

He also noted that YABLOKO is the European party that has consistently supported the idea of liberating Russian citizens from visa barriers on trips to Central and Western Europe.


YABLOKO: the visa barriers separating Russia and Europe must be removed as soon as possible
Press release, February 20, 2003

The first real step towards an elimination of the visa barrier separating the single European space, including Russia has been done.


Grigory Yavlinsky will speak about a new security concept for Russia and Europe at an International Conference in Vilnius
Press Release, November 29, 2002

On November 29-30, Chairman of the Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky will participate in an international conference "The Big Europe", Vilnius, Lithuania, devoted to contemporary security problems in Europe.


Grigory Yavlinsky: Respect should become the Russian national idea
Press Release, November 19, 2002

The leader of the YABLOKO party Grigory Yavlinsky explained his view of Russia's state and national idea at the round-table meeting "St. Petersburg in the 21st Century" at the Rosbalt information agency on November 19, 2002. According to Yavlinsky,the Russian state should proclaim the following idea: "preservation of the state within the present boundaries and the dissemination of European ideas and European influence via Russia to the whole of Eurasia.”.


Europe's March to the East
Moscow faces the prospect of choosing a new strategic direction

Vek, by Valery Liubin, October 18, 2002
We have not seen much coherent commentary in Russia on a decision made by the European Union in early October to accept ten new members in 2004 (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, and Cyprus). However, this move is much more important and fraught with more significant consequences than the news about NATO eastward expansion which once caused Russia to dig in its heels. All attention is being focused on one side-effect alone - resolving the Kaliningrad dilemma and the tug-of-war between Brussels and Moscow - although it is quite clear which side will be forced to make the greater concessions when finding a compromise.


Vladimir Lukin advocates development by Russia of an Euro-Atlantic integration policy
Press Release, May 30, 2002
Deputy Speaker of the State Duma from the Yabloko faction Vladimir Lukin, thinks that the recent summit meetings between Russia and the USA, NATO and the European Union represent a "step forward rather than a breakthrough."


A letter by ALDE to Russian Prime Minister Putin

February 24, 2010
Dear Prime Minister Putin,

The ALDE group secured a paragraph in the resolution adopted by the European Parliament last week on Russia, reminding “the Council and the High Representative of the full array of appropriate measures that may be used when faced with systematic human rights abuses and failures to uphold the rule of law”...

Clear Visa Rules for Neighbourhood Policy

Press Release, ALDE, December 14, 2010

...On a related matter, questioning the Commission concerning recent evidence showing that the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement, in force since June 2007, is still not fully implemented in a completely reciprocal way, ALDE spokesperson on Russia Kristina Ojuland (Reform Party, Estonia) said "we fully support the visa waiver agreement as a measure to enable Russian citizens to travel to the EU with minimum formalities, but we would expect the Russian side to apply the same standard to our citizens. We must ensure that the current requirement for EU citizens to register within three days with the authorities if staying in a private home in Russia is abolished."

Russian and European Modernisation

Speech by Sergei Mitrokhin
Liberal International Executive Committee
Berlin, June 11, 2010

Announcing a policy towards modernisation in Russia President of Russia put himself in line with a number of Russian rulers-reformers who aspired to perform radical transformations in the country. Some specific traits of this policy resemble those of his predecessors. The President understands modernisation primarily as acceleration of scientific and technological development. With some reservations about the need for political reform, the latter look like a number of quite shallow and very systematic activities...

The United Kingdom Elections 2010

By Robert Woodthorpe Browne. Special for YABLOKO's web-site. May 26, 2010

...Now the UK has a coalition Government, in which Nick Clegg is Deputy Prime Minister, with 5 LibDems in the Cabinet and a further 15 as junior ministers. The legislative programme, read out by Queen Elizabeth II yesterday, contains very many policies from the LibDem manifesto, and the two parties are committed to a 5 year government to enable them to carry out their reforms and eliminate the deficit.

The real lesson to be learned from a Russian point of view is that the UK suffered from limited access to the media for minor parties. If a platform is given to others – as in the prime ministerial debates – the people are able to make an informed choice and will be excited by a political process that they will not think to have been “fixed” by those already in power.

Finding a Strategy For Europe
By Grigory Yavlinsky and Alexander Shishlov
ALDE Bulletin, N°2, 2010. PACE Session. 26-30 April 2010

It was 65 years ago that the World War II ended. The scope of the disaster was so devastating that the entire world learned the lesson and found ways for reconciliation of the recent foes and creation of international mechanisms for peaceful development of the mankind. Responsibility and intellect of politicians, experts and public leaders took over narrow national and corporate interests allowing to formulate common approaches to the construction of a new Europe and a new world. After the war, the UN and the Council of Europe were established and the integration of the European democratic states leading to today’s European Union began. The Liberal International was created, and its Oxford Manifesto of 1947 proclaimed liberal values to be a must for future development. Freedom and democracy, human rights and rule of law became key components of the new world order. In spite of the fact that half of Europe remained under Stalin’s totalitarian dictatorship, progress was irreversible. This value-orientation proved to be successful as the communist regimes collapsed in the USSR and Eastern Europe...

For the visa-free travel between Russia and the EU as a way to promote mutual trust and cooperation

Speech by Sergei Mitrokhin at ELDR Council meeting, Rome, March 12, 2010

In my view, elimination of visa barriers between Russia and Europe should be examined and solved by politicians rather than bureaucrats. All we need is political will towards such strategic decision-making. Long-term advantages here both for Russia and Europe considerably overweight bureaucratic problems. And it will also allow us to solve such issues as, for example, work permits and registration for foreign citizens working in Russia, which should be part of the general agreement on elimination of visa barriers.

For the Russian citizens the freedom of movement within Europe is not reduced only to facilitation of their business, study or tourist trips (though this is also very important). This means their normal life within a single European civilization on the basis of mutually shared principles and values. This issue has become especially acute when visa barriers separated us from our close Eastern European neighbours. However, close interaction with them has always been very important when we speak about European trends in Russia.

YABLOKO urges European liberals to work out a new EU strategy for Russia

ELDR Press Release, February 17, 2010

At a meeting of the European Liberal Democrats parliamentary group in Brussels on 3rd February, Sergey Mitrokhin, Leader of ELDR member party, YABLOKO, called for a strong collaboration amongst liberals in view of the introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and the European Union.

Mitrokhin called on the European Union to “work out a strategy for interaction with Russia based on integration rather than confrontation”. Such integration is needed both for the EU and Russia in the field of the economy (which should not be reduced to oil and gas issues only), politics and national security (e.g., creation of a joint ABM), as well as a broad spectrum of other aspects, such as integration of Russia’s rich intellectual and labour potential into the European economy. “The European Union should initiate projects that would engage Russian society and elite into the European values and approaches”. According to Mitrokhin, such a strategy can ensure Russia’s steady movement towards the European way of development. Elimination of visa barriers and free communication between the citizens of the EU and Russia will enable Russian citizens to experience the achievements of Western democracies and observe how democratic institutions should really function and apply this in their own country...

Grigory Yavlinsky: no discords in the tandem

Grigory Yavlinsky’s interview to the Radio Liberty
September 22, 2009

Radio Liberty: Many Russian politicians are enthusiastic about Barack Obama abolishing the plans of deployment of the elements of the American ABM system in Central Europe. Do you share such feelings?

Grigory Yavlinsky: No, I don’t, as these missiles and the decision of deployment of the ABM system adopted by President Bush did not threaten Russia in any way. It had a symbolic meaning. What Barack Obama did, was done because he was amending an error made by george Bush, rather than yielding to Russia, as President Bush’ decision was absolutely inefficient - technically, economically and strategically. He had enough courage to shelve the erroneous plan created by George Bush.

R.L: How do you assess the reaction of the Russian politicians who are speaking about this as of a large diplomatic victory of Moscow then?

G.Y.: As immature, it stirs pity. Such a reaction can not serve as a basis for further development of reasonable, earnest, and, if we further elaborate on this thought, grownup relationships with the developed countries. In general this is a trade-in approach – if you give something to me, then I give something to you, if you take away your missiles, we shall help you or will not help you somewhere in Iran – such an approach to the world politics is extremely primitive. Such approaches proved leading to deadlocks and inefficient, but, unfortunately they have been widely spread not only in Russia, but in the West too...

Enemy Around - A view on the present conspiracy theory by Boris Vishnevsky
Fontanka.ru, June 30, 2009

The Soviet Union collapsed due to �ecological horror stories� of 1980s that provoked �artificial schizophrenic attitudes�: thus, a fear of salmonellosis led to a situation when Soviet citizens stopped eating chicken and the corresponding ministry responsible for provision of poultry collapsed, and a �horror story� on nitrates filling vegetables grown in the USSR killed our agriculture. After this the country was crammed with US poultry and imported fruit and vegetables.


Papers Say EU Deal Is Victory for Russia
By Alex Fak and Simon Saradzhyan, The Moscow Times, April 29, 2004

Arbatov said that while sharing positions on the seriousness of threats such as terrorism and proliferation, the two sides have not advanced far in practical cooperation. In part, the lack of cooperation is rooted in Europe's failure to develop its own military and security capacity in the form of a rapid deployment corps independent of NATO, he said.


Europe Prepared to Sign Interim Agreement with Russia on Visa-Free Regime
Rosbalt, April 23, 2004

The European Commission president emphasized that the transition to a visa-free regime in the long term would give 'practical confirmation of the devotion of both sides to the creation of a Europe without borders.'


Vladimir Lukin: A merger between Russian and foreign companies during Russia's integration into the world economy is inevitable
FMBusiness, October 20, 2003

"When a new partner appears the world arena, problems always occur: there is always some inferiority complex, there are always problems with existing market proportions, money flows and the system of current personal relations - this problem should somehow be transformed and changed. I think this is just a matter of time," said Lukin.


Italian Ambassador Predicts Visa-Free Travel Between EU and Russia
Rosbalt, July 18, 2003

He added that as the current holder of the EU presidency, Italy is 'ready to start talks on this issue very soon.'


YABLOKO and the European Commission will discuss the possible introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and EU
Rosbalt, July 18, 2003

A joint working group of the YABLOKO party and the European Commission on the introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and the EU will be created shortly.


On visa regulations between Russia and EU countries
LDR Group Statement, Strasburg, June 23, 2003

Liberals, Democrats and Reformers' Group of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe supports the idea of elimination of the visa regime between the Russian Federation and the European Union member countries which was discussed at the Russia-EU summit in St.Petersburg in May 2003.


YABLOKO collects signatures to eliminate visa regime between Russia and the EU
Grani.ru, June 8, 2003

The Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO has started collecting signatures from Russian citizens demanding the elimination of the visa regime between Russia and EU member states.


Russian citizens should go to Europe without visas!
Statement, June 5, 2003

We, the undersigned citizens of the RF, support the initiative of the YABLOKO party to eliminate the visa regime between Russia and EU member states.


YABLOKO starts collecting signatures to eliminate the visa regime between Russia and EU member states
Press release, June 5, 2003

"Russia is a European country and we have the right to feel that we are fully-fledged representatives of European civilization," stated the initiators of the address.


Patching Things Up at Putin's Picnic
By Grigory Yavlinsky, The Moscow Times, June 6, 2003.

The top-level meetings held in St. Petersburg last weekend produced positive results for Russia, Europe and the entire world.


The War against Terrorism and the Transformation of the World Order, three perpesctives
By Alexei G. Arbatov, CEPS Commentary, November 2001

...two months later after the "Black September", the weaknesses of the coalition and deficiencies of the operation are becoming more and more evident, as well as the confusion and inconsistency of the United States and other major players in adopting a new security strategy and still less in implementing it... (Archive)


Stumbling Blocks on the Road to Europe
World Economic Forum, 24.01.2003 (Archive)

Europe is not just a geographical concept, "but an economic, political and civilizational unit..."


Under a Single Umbrella
By Alexei Arbatov, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 7, 2003

The unfolding drama of the war in Iraq has pushed less sensational problems to the background, even though these problems may be extremely important in the long term.


The Strategy of a Compromise
By Grigory Yavlinsky, Deloviye Ludi, March 24, 2003

We cannot neglect the fact that Europe’s borders, separating the region from the most unstable and the most dangerous parts of the world, run along Russia’s borders. Their defense is an all-European concern. Furthermore, a weak and unstable Russia would represent an eternal breeding ground for terrorist threats.
Only a Bigger Europe, which takes advantage of the territorial and intellectual potential and all other resources of the former republics of the Soviet Union, can complete globally on an equal footing with North America and South-East Asia.


YABLOKO: Visa barriers separating Russia and Europe need to be eliminated as soon as possible
Aliance Media, March 4, 2003

The first real step has been taken to the elimination of the visa barriers separating the single European space, including Russia. That is how Chairman of the Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky assessed the decision to form a working group to implement the proposal to switch to a visa-free regime for trips by Russian citizens to EU countries.


More Efficient Than War
By Grigory Yavlinsky, Izvestia, February 11, 2003

Nowadays it is difficult to find a politician in Russia who will not talk about the need to "join Europe". Russia is a European country. I am convinced that if everything goes well, Russia will be a member of all European political, economic and defence structures in 10-15 years. These will be mostly new organisations.


Grigory Yavlinsky thinks that a single Russian-European security system needs to be created as soon as possible
Alliance Media, December 3, 2002

On November 30, 2002 Grigory Yavlinsky commented in a speech at an international conference "The Big Europe", held in Vilnius, Lithuania, on the problems of establishing new relations between Russia, Europe and the USA, dictating the requirements related to the "creation of a new joint security agenda for Russia and Europe." "One of the key aspects today concerns the creation of a Russian-European anti-missile defence system for the theatre of military actions (RE AMD or AMD TMA)," said Yavlinsky.


Moscow faces the prospect of choosing a new strategic direction
Vek, by Valery Liubin, October 18, 2002

The latest round of talks about campaign cooperation between the Union of Right-Wing Forces We have not seen much coherent commentary in Russia on a decision made by the European Union in early October to accept ten new members in 2004 (Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, and Cyprus). However, this move is much more important and fraught with more significant consequences than the news about NATO eastward expansion which once caused Russia to dig in its heels. All attention is being focused on one side-effect alone - resolving the Kaliningrad dilemma and the tug-of-war between Brussels and Moscow - although it is quite clear which side will be forced to make the greater concessions when finding a compromise.


Grigory Yavlinsky advocates a visa-free regime at the Baltic Development Forum
On October 14-15, 2002, the leader of the Russian Democratic Party YABLOKO

Grigory Yavlinsky will take part in the fourth annual meeting of the Baltic Development Forum. The Forum will be held in Copenhagen and is entitled "New Bridges Between the Baltic States: Prospects and Strategies of the Centre of Growth in Europe".


Russian liberal politician concerned by attacks on Putin's foreign policy views
Interfax, April 24, 2002

Moscow, 24 April: The leader of the Russian liberal party Yabloko, Grigoriy Yavlinsky, expressed his convern that the foreign policy pursued by President Vladimir Putin has been under pressure from certain circles in the political and bureaucratic establishment aimed at revising this policy.


A Forum Argues Over Russia's Place
By Gregory Feifer, The Moscow Times, May. 31, 2002
Experts gathering Thursday on the heels of three major international summits said the West's leading policymaking institutions must include Russia in a broad strategic framework if they want to successfully tackle the top global priority: terrorism. Despite that general consensus, there was stark disagreement on specifics at the two-day conference on Euro-Atlantic integration, organized by the Washington-based Euro-Atlantic Institute of International Integration Studies.


Russia looks to its future role
By Quentin Peel, The Financial Times, May 27 2002
There is nothing like a good old-fashioned summit in the Kremlin between erstwhile superpower rivals, with a treaty on nuclear missiles thrown in for good measure, to get the pundits excited.

Press releases


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