Interview with YABLOKO leader Sergei Mitrokhin by Maxim
Glikin, Irina Novikova
Question: The so called tandem of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir
Putin lasted three years. Do you think this model was efficient?
Sergei Mitrokhin: It was effective for the participants in
the tandem themselves. As a PR stunt, it was superb. For Russia,
however, it turned out to be a waste because it availed Russia
nothing at all. This show was a success only for the showmen
themselves. It accomplished its purpose. Part of society was
deceived and pinned its hopes on Medvedev. Time was wasted,
time that could have been spent more productively, in search
for a genuine alternative to Putin that would have consolidated
Question: And did Yabloko have faith in Medvedev as an alternative
Sergei Mitrokhin: Never. We were constantly asked who we liked
more, Medvedev or Putin. We always replied that we liked neither
because there was no difference between them.
Question: So, what prevented Yabloko from developing an alternative
Sergei Mitrokhin: There are certain forces that prevented
it, and the tandem was one of them. Modernization was proclaimed,
and the hopes for the reforms were pinned on Medvedev again
and not on whatever alternative the opposition might offer.
As a matter of fact, even media outlets were misled and tricked
in this manner. And yet, there is an alternative and we are
working on it. YABLOKO established factions comprising representatives
of certain segments of civil society. I mean people like environmentalists,
human rights organizations, organizations of women, businessmen.
Question: If the tandem is effective, why would Putin want
to execute a comeback?
Sergei Mitrokhin: The way I see it, he could decide that society
was ungirded and that order had to be restored in the country
all over again. Needless to say, he considers himself the
best man for the job.
Question: The widespread opinion is that mild authoritarianism
Sergei Mitrokhin: It is. The powers-that-be know that it will
be wrong to have authoritarian methods encroaching on basic
interests of the population. And for the majority of the Russians,
all basic interests come down to consumption. They are regarded
as more important than civil rights and freedoms. That is
why the regime feels free to encroach on human rights while
defending the rights of consumers. Revolution of the early
1990s in Russia failed to install a kind of society that exists
throughout the West. It is basic consumption requirements
that are not met in Russia. The regime is patently unable
to meet them. It's no wonder therefore that irritation and
dissatisfaction tend to accumulate. Economic policy of the
regime comes down to promotion of the
interests of several oligarchic clans. A regime such as this
cannot be everlasting.
Question: Mass construction of tenements is one of the clauses
of YABLOKO's program. Where do you plan to get the money for
Sergei Mitrokhin: Not in the budget of course... It's interesting,
you know. For some reason that is never explained, those who
criticize YABLOKO for this clause of the program never even
give a thought to the president's intention to pour 20 trillion
rubles into national defense. And the military prosecutor's
office itself admits that 20% finances of the military budget
disappear without a trace, i.e. get embezzled.
Question: YABLOKO lost two previous parliamentary campaigns.
Have you learned your lessons?
Sergei Mitrokhin: When the election is free and fair, it does
end in triumphs and defeats. When the election is anything
but... According to Novaya Gazeta, YABLOKO obtained 15% in
the election in Moscow in 2009.
Question: Well, if elections are rigged on so staggering a
scale, then perhaps it is time to try something different?
In Ukraine, it took protests on the Maidan.
Sergei Mitrokhin: Yes, but what preceded these protests? Do
you remember? People there started protesting when they had
participated in the election but its outcome was then shamelessly
rigged. All of the people had participated, and not 20% or
so like in Russia. The Ukrainians are socially active, and
this is what we ought to learn from them. At the very least,
we need a high turnout in elections in Russia.
Question: They pulled it off in Ukraine because the opposition
there managed to combine its efforts. Sure, alliances of political
parties are outlawed in Russia nowadays but there are other
ways, surely. For example, it is possible to form a democratic
coalition, something like Putin 's Russian Popular Front,
and later compose a common ticket...
Sergei Mitrokhin: In principle, YABLOKO is ready to go for
it. On the other hand, the impression is that this is more
than could be said about our potential partners. By and large,
we believe that it is better to unite within some single political
party than to confuse voters with establishment of fictitious
Question: Is YABLOKO prepared for consolidation with other
political forces in time for the presidential elections?
Sergei Mitrokhin: Yes, YABLOKO is prepared. Sure, a good deal
will depend on the outcome of the parliamentary elections
but we mean to nominate a candidate for president. I think
that we ought to nominate Grigory Yavlinsky. If we form a
broad coalition with some other political forces, then it
will probably require
primaries or something like that so as to nominate a common
Question: Do you expect any political changes in the near
future? Do liberal ideas as such have a future in Russia?
Sergei Mitrokhin: They do. Russia needs democratization because
it will find itself in a tight corner otherwise. After all,
its very future is at stake.
to the State Duma 2011