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Interview of Grigory Yavlinsky by Sergey Dorenko


ORT channel, Interviewer -Sergey Dorenko
April 22, 2000

Dorenko: Today the Central Council of Yabloko held a meeting. Its leader, Grigory Yavlinsky, has agreed to appear on our programme. Good evening, Grigory Alexeevich.

Yavlinsky: Good evening.

Dorenko: You have left the deputies, or rather the delegates?

Yavlinsky: Yes, the Central Council is still working.

Dorenko: Before we talk about the democratic coalition, which is certainly the most interesting topic, I would like to find out what you have decided to do about the fate of Yabloko? Because there is a clear need to re-assess some issues after the two election campaigns (Ed. the parliamentary and presidential elections).

Yavlinsky: Yabloko has been on the scene for seven years already, and we have come to the end of a long period together with the country as a whole. Yeltsin's era has ended, and the new political reality has begun. We believe that it is very important to organise our work to meet as much as possible the interests of the citizens of our country, the interests of democracy in our country and the future of our country in the next century. These are virtually all the topics that were covered at the Central Council meeting. But first of all I would like to point out once again that we confirmed today that we have dozens of regional branches all over the country. Now these branches are being re-registered and we will take another step to transform Yabloko into a party. Yabloko is probably the only effective political structure that has both regional branches and also enjoys public support and is well known.

Dorenko: Do you mean that the congress is partially a mobilising measure?

Yavlinsky: Yes, ...

Dorenko: Do you review the activity of each division?

Yavlinsky: Yes, of course. We are also setting new tasks and compiling the election results. For example, at the Central Council meeting we listened to the results of checks of electoral data. We discerned quite significant discrepancies between the protocols of our observers and the official data in some regions in the country. For example, we witnessed virtually a three-fold difference in Saratov region. In other words our results were actually three times as big as the officially announced results. And we are continuing this work.

Dorenko: I would like to speak about the democratic coalition now. This is what the democrats have been dreaming about for a long time, as you remember. But for the past ten years democrats have been having such dreams... Democrats always have more leaders than supporters, as each democrat is always a leader. Now it would seem that the situation is such, that... And you have to consider the feelings of envy in a union - when a weaker partner joins the stronger party to steal his electorate. But now, it would transpire that we are seeing signs of modesty, that people are swallowing their pride - this is an interesting development, isn't it?

Yavlinsky: Yes, this is a very important moment. Today the Central Council adopted a decision that the creation of a coalition of democratic forces is one of the most important strategic directions for Yabloko, firstly with the SPS (Ed. The Union of Right-Wing Forces - the SPS), and then with other democratic unions. But as a first step of our union this will be...

Dorenko: With the SPS in the Duma?

Yavlinsky: Yes, in the Duma. This involves the creation of a co-ordination council on legislation and the solidary voting of the two factions. This is the first time that such a decision has been observed in the Duma - the solidary voting of two factions against some provisions of the Administrative Code connected with violation of the rights of citizens, especially car drivers. At the same time this involves the pooling of our efforts at the elections in St Petersburg (Ed. The gubernatorial elections). We would like to demonstrate that we can achieve common decisions. We have to draw a line over our many differences, at least in as much as life has already demonstrated everything - who was finally right both in economic policy and in politics. The former leadership of the country has departed, and the new political reality appears, and everybody who would like to defend their interests...

Dorenko: I have considered his phrase of yours several times. Probably, it has become clear who was wrong. But it remains unclear who was right, because nobody was right.

Yavlinsky: I think that the development of our economy, which you have covered in such detail...

Dorenko: I simply cited the members of the government...

Yavlinsky: ...analysing all the nuances. Yes, you explained everything so skilfully to the citizens that they have obviously understood who was right.

Dorenko: I fear that the cabinet did not understand what they had said. Have you heard this brilliant sentence?

Yavlinsky: Don't fear for them. They say this on purpose.

Dorenko: They understood, didn't they?

Yavlinsky: They intentionally say this, to prevent you from understanding anything. All this simply demonstrates that our disputes about economic policy focus on the past. Everyone knows what the economic policy was and what the results were. I would not like to return to this again. Now we have to look forward. If we look ahead, we can see a possibility to pool our efforts on the key issues of protecting citizens' rights and economic development, which will lead to the creation of jobs, amendments to many situations in domestic policy - stopping the war and protecting the rights of all the citizens of our country.

Dorenko: The people in the SPS, these people and their reputations, have always demonstrated that this is a party of compromise. This is a party of tactical compromises, strategic compromises and permanent compromises in general. They say that this is reasonable today, although we reject it. This is what the people from the SPS often say. You are the party of irreconcilable individuals, almost sectants, who do not want to cooperate with anyone. How can such a union be achieved?

Yavlinsky: It can be achieved on the basis of rational compromises.

Dorenko: Do you mean that you will start adopting their tactics?

Yavlinsky: We will adopt their tactics in areas where we can tolerate compromise. And we will invite them to agree to such compromises which are rational and lead to something useful and sensible, but not simply to compromises for the sake of power.

Dorenko: In addition this will be a generational division of the Duma: "Unity" may merge with "Fatherland" minus "All Russia" (Ed. allusion to a split in the "Fatherland - All Russia" faction, while you will work with the SPS.

Yavlinsky: Well, "Unity" is more likely to merge with the communists.

Dorenko: Oh no.

Yavlinsky: And we with the SPS. "Fatherland" will partially join here and there.

Dorenko: Even though the OVR (Ed. "Fatherland - All Russia") has offered its support to Vladimir Putin, they offer a different level of support, while "Unity" has offered its unconditional overt support.

Yavlinsky: In actual fact...

Dorenko: Is it possible that you might support Putin as well?

Yavlinsky: Everything depends on specific proposals.

Dorenko: Do you mean that you will analyse every item to ascertain whether it should be supported?

Yavlinsky: In my opinion, wise people always support only specific items.

Dorenko: However, now there is almost a queue of people who want to join the President's party.

Yavlinsky: We are not in that queue.

Dorenko: How about the SPS?

Yavlinsky: I don't know, but we are not queuing there.

Dorenko: Is there likely to be a split on this point?

Yavlinsky: No, I don't think that there will be any more splits.

Dorenko: I wanted to ask you about St Petersburg. In my opinion, we are witnessing a dramatic situation for democracy, as the population, the electorate in St Petersburg, are simply disorientated. They thought that Sergei Stepashin would stand and then that Valentina Matvienko would stand. Now it is unclear what will happen to Yuli Rybakov, as his lists of signatures were stolen.

Yavlinsky: I think that this time...

Dorenko: There will be a game and the game will be in the hands of Yakovlev (the present Governor of St Petersburg) and not those of your candidate.

Yavlinsky: There will be a game and one side should win. But the fact is that we will definitely have a single candidate. I think that we will agree with the SPS on this issue. Speaking about our candidate, Igor Artemyev, I should like to point out that he worked as first deputy governor for a long time.

Dorenko: He worked with Yakovlev and people say that he fought on the side of Yakovlev against Sobchak (Ed. the first Mayor of St Petersburg, one of the democrats in the "first wave"). In this way he compromised himself by working with this administration.

Yavlinsky: He worked for the administration as long as the work was beneficial and productive. Igor Artemyev developed and implemented all the financial policies aimed at extricating the city from debt. These policies were implemented immediately after the change of leadership in the city. We can fully vouch for this policy. He is a man who can do practical things in the city. He is not one of those radical economists: he can actually govern the city using economic methods. In addition, he is a man of firm convictions. And nobody could ever accuse Artemyev of being a thief, when he worked as first deputy governor responsible for finance in the city. But when it became impossible to work with clean hands, Artemyev left. In our opinion, he was right to do so.

Dorenko: I know that you consider ratings a pseudo science. However ratings in St Petersburg indicate that Yakovlev has very good chances.

Yavlinsky: Yes, we know that they are high.

Dorenko: Do you participate merely for the sake of participating?

Yavlinsky: We will do all we can to provide all the citizens of St Petersburg who want the city to look different with such an opportunity, to vote for such a candidate, so that we can secure definite achievements, and not simply the holding of a hockey championship. And we will do all we can to achieve this goal.

Dorenko: Still the potential of a negative campaign with Yakovlev has increased: we can always tell what is bad there. In addition the roads are in a terrible state of disrepair: this is Russia's criminal capital, where someone is always killed and the Governor maintains doubtful relations with the criminal world. This is negative potential. We could go even further. But it would seem that all the citizens of St Petersburg already know this and that they are all indifferent to the fact that the city is ruled by criminals. At the same time we should attempt to find a positive approach.

Yavlinsky: If you have noticed, I have not said anything negative about Yakovlev. On the contrary, I have focused on the positive features that Artemyev can implement: in the financial sector, the mobilisation of funds to build roads and in legislation. We have a large faction in the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg. That is why we are going into the elections with an absolutely positive programme, seeking to protect citizens' rights in the most simple issues: payment for the telephone, rent, payment for water, the simplest things. This is what we can solve on an absolutely practical basis. In addition I would like to tell you the following: you probably know that a proposal was submitted to the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg, which states that if Yakovlev wins, he will lose about 75% of his powers, as a Prime Minister (Ed. of St Petersburg) will be created. It is likely that he will sent there by the authorities in Moscow. And he will rule everything. However, we want the governor to be responsible for his every word and promise.

Dorenko: Thank you for participating in our programme: we will watch together developments in St Petersburg. Moreover we have been doing this for several months already.

Yavlinsky: Thank you.

ei Stepashin on Grigory Yavlinsky's proposals