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Leaders of the Yabloko, SPS and OVR factions declare that the arrest of Gusinsky is splitting society and discrediting the country


Yabloko is a mission. Yavlinsky's party rehearses its ability to reach agreement on the right
Interview of Sergei Ivanenko by Sergei Miulin
"Segodnya",No 151
July 13, 2000

Deputy Head of the Yabloko faction Sergei Ivanenko expressed Yabloko’s views on the SPS to the correspondent of "Segodnya" Sergei Miulin

Question: Sergei Viktorovich, what was the main conclusion that Yabloko drew at the 8th Congress over its defeat in the parliamentary and presidential elections?

Ivanenko: The most important result can be summed up as follows: we have managed to keep the party intact. After experiencing a defeat, it is easier to understand who your actual supporters are. We realised that our party plays an independent role in Russia, fulfils a mission, if you like, which implies the protection of an individual’s personal freedom.

In addition, our failure is relative, as the scale of administrative pressure and manipulation of the public consciousness were such that it meant a lot if you managed to preserve your faction in the State Duma for the third time running.

Q: Normally in such cases the culprits are sought and named. As far as I know, neither Elena Mizulina, nor Yavlinsky's colleagues in EPIcenter Alexei Mikhailov and Alexei Melnikov were elected to the Central Council: even you had problems being elected. Are they looking for the culprits there?

Ivanenko: I don't think that elections to the Central Council are indicative here.There is no crisis in the party: it is functioning normally. People tend to vote more often against the people they know well.

Q.: In other words if only 10 people voted against Yavlinsky, he is not well known?

Ivanenko: No, but previously nobody had voted against Yavlinsky….We passed a decision to reform the party, which we will start with the organisational forms of management; where different claims and pretensions to a leading role exist. Consequently, specific relations are formed there. I would like to point out here that the congress granted Grigory Yavlinsky a leading role in reform of the party. The people who voted like this proceeded from a principled approach: they do not consider the reforms to be necessary. However, the majority confirmed the proxies of the leader.

Q.: Then why is there a prevailing viewpoint that Yabloko had to create a coalition with the SPS to survive in Putin's harsh regime?

Ivanenko: The issue of forming a coalition with the SPS was one of the most important issues of the congress. It was seriously discussed and a decision was passed, which represents the uniform position of the party.

Q.: But it simply approved an agreement between Khakamada-Lukin, nothing more!

Ivanenko: But nothing less. The very fact that nobody voted against and nobody abstained is quite demonstrative. We are forming a coalition with the SPS not so much because we doubt the correctness of the political line of Yabloko, but because the situation in the country is such that private disagreements between democrats have been placed on the backburner, compared to opposition to the formation of a police state. Neither we, nor the SPS would have such an influence on our own. Our interest is not more than that of the SPS.

Q.: Would it be an exaggeration to say that you were doomed to the union with the SPS, with the terms dictated by the latter?

Ivanenko: An exaggeration, to put it mildly. Simply there is a sufficiently complicated political process, as we are a real party, we are not "Unity", which is told how to vote.

Q.: Do you support or not the uniting of SPS and Yabloko in the regions proposed by Boris Nemtzov according to the Elena Mizulina model?

Ivanenko: Let me tell you what we agreed. We agreed with Boris Nemtzov to ensure the interaction of our organisations, proceeding from the organisational principles of the SPS and Yabloko. The SPS is a coalition of a number of small different political parties with their own system of management. Yabloko has an individual membership and prohibits additional membership of other organisations. In this sense we cannot speak about joint organisations here. Such an attempt was made in Yaroslavl, which is considered by some people as a breach of Yabloko's charter. From my point of view, the mechanism should be the same as the one in the Duma.

Q.: Like the Ivanenko-Pokhmelkin Commission?

Ivanenko: We will create a joint political council. The Bureau must send its representatives there by July 20. I think that the organisations in the regions will also be built according to this model. People have claimed that Yabloko is unable to reach agreement with anyone. However, I think that our coalition with the SPS renders such discussions redundant.

We currently have a very powerful administrative-bureaucratic system in the country symptomatic of the Federal Securities Services, we have the Communist party, which is officially part of the opposition, but in reality adopts a certain niche in the bureaucratic power system, and there are a number of people who do not want to follow this line. We are not talking here about winning the gubernatorial elections tomorrow. For a start we should strive to make them consider us at least.

Boris Nemtzov has a good idea here: 70% of the electorate is concentrated in 15 out of Russia’s 89 regions.We are bound to witness some consolidation of efforts. I, for example, believe that the right strategy would involve maximising our influence in major population centres and obtaining the minimum support and influence in the regions. If we are able to obtain the support of 30-40% of the population in Ekaterinburg, St. Petersburg and Nizhni Novgorod, and 5% in rural districts, then our final results will be positive.

ei Stepashin on Grigory Yavlinsky's proposals