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YABLOKO leader Sergei Mitrokhin: "In a country with such elections participation in elections is a must"


November 14, 2011

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 society.

Question: And did Yabloko have faith in Medvedev as an alternative to Putin?

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 to Putin?

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 is better...

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 it?

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 structures.

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 candidate.

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.

See also:

The original publication

Elections to the State Duma 2011



November 14, 2011

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