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YABLOKO proposes that all political forces unite against 'black PR'

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The YABLOKO party calls on all politicians and journalists to unite in the fight against 'dirty' information technologies. This statement was made by Deputy Chairman of the YABLOKO party, deputy of the State Duma Sergei Mitrokhin at a press conference at the Interfax agency on May 29, 2003.

Sergei Mitrokhin at an Interfax press conference, May 29, 2003.
Photo by Olga Shweitzer

Sergei MitrokhinThe press conference of one of YABLOKO's leaders, who was recently appointed head of YABLOKO's election campaign to the State Duma, was devoted to recent examples of 'dirty' electoral technologies.

"This year saw an early start to an unprecedented 'black PR' campaign, and YABLOKO was its first martyr¦, said Mitrokhin. He confirmed information in the mass media about the emergence of stickers in the Moscow metro aimed at convincing Muscovites that YABLOKO and communists are allies (YABLOKO with a hammer and sickle label and a collage of Grigory Yavlinsky and Gennadi Zyuganov entitled "We Are Together!"). Mitrokhin informed the media that billboards with the same content (discovered by YABLOKO's analytical service) appeared at the outskirts of Moscow and referred to a campaign in the regional press to discredit YABLOKO in the regions. According to Mitrokhin, several waves of the same articles abruptly criticizing the position of the YABLOKO party on a number of key political issues, first of all the housing and utilities sector reform, appeared in at least 30 regions of Russia.

One of the examples of 'dirty' political technologies - a billboard near Otradnioye metro station in Moscow. May 28, 2003. Photo by Olga Shweitzer.

Mitrokhin also told the press that YABLOKO had pointed out these developments to corresponding state structures. "We forwarded a request to Public Prosecutor-General of Moscow and Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission of Russia with a demand to investigate these facts," noted

Mitrokhin. Meanwhile YABLOKO has been conducting its own investigation which has already managed to detect the producers of the billboards v the "Big Board" company - and the company involved in placing the products against YABLOKO in the regional mass media - ZAO "Institut Reklami".

One of the examples of 'dirty' political technologies - a sticker glued to the Moscow metro by hooligans in May, 2003. Photo by Olga Shweitzer.

Mitrokhin comments: "The application of 'dirty' technologies is most likely related to the principled position of the party and its open fight against the arbitrary rule of the largest monopolies. Social science agencies have noted the growth in YABLOKO's rating. In a bid to curb our successful elections campaign, our competitors may choose the way of political provocations."

Asked by journalists whether he suspected that some particular individuals were behind the disinformation campaign, Mitrokhin answered that he couldn-t name the culprits, without first obtaining sufficient facts against them. He added: ?We cannot rule out that structures close to the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) or some other force is trying to aggravate the situation six months before the elections and provoke an "information war" between YABLOKO and SPS." He reiterated that the explosion of ordered publications in the regions, as for example the article "Yavlinsky's plan" to freeze the country" coincided with the Duma's examination of the amendments to the law on housing and utilities reform, "when our discrepancies with the SPS were principled v they obviously supported the government reform, and YABLOKO was sharply against the draft law." In addition, according to Mitrokhin, the leaders of the Union of Right-Wing Forces have repeatedly asserted in their speeches in the regions that YABLOKO and the communists work together, and that an article called "The red YABLOKO" had previously been published in about 30 regional editions making virtually the same statements.

One of the examples of 'dirty' political technologies - a sticker glued
to the Moscow metro by hooligans in May, 2003.
Photo by Olga Shweitzer.

Asked whether the emergence of such publications could have been provoked by a coincidence v the decision of both YABLOKO and the CPRF to demand the resignation of the Cabinet, Mitrokhin noted, "We are solidary here not only with the communists but also with United Russia that also criticised the government and Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, the SPS, the People's Party and other political forces."

Mitrokhin thinks that it is necessary to take all possible steps to curb the use of unlawful technologies in the election campaign, adding: "Otherwise the autumn election campaign to the State Duma will be unprecedented in terms of the use of dirty technologies. This can discredit once and for all the idea of democratic elections and will facilitate a reduction in the authority of such an important state authority as parliament."

Mitrokhin thinks that to avert such developments, both state bodies and all political parties and structures of t civil society, the mass media and promotion companies should join forces against the use of 'dirty' technologies. "Only coordinated and firm resistance to dishonest methods in the political struggle by all participants in the election process can guarantee honest elections and further the progress of Russia in building a free democratic society," stated Mitrokhin.

See also:

State Duma Elections 2003

Komsomolskaya Pravda. May 31, 2003. YABLOKO Against 'Black PR'

Finmarketnovosti, May 30, 2003. YABLOKO forwarded to the Central Electoral Commission and Public Prosecutor General of Moscow a petition demanding that it take to task the promotion company picturing YABLOKO with hammer and sickle.

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