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Russian Opposition Chief Warns of All-powerful Bureaucracy

CIS online, Agence France Presse, January 22, 2001

Gregori Yavlinsky, head of the liberal opposition bloc Yabloko, warned against the return of a system based on an "all-powerful bureaucracy" under President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, at the end of a human rights conference.

A new system of "disguised national Bolshevism and based on an all-powerful bureaucracy is taking root in Russia," he said on the second day of a specially convened conference on human rights.

Yavlinsky, who garnered 5.8 percent of the presidential vote in the March 2000 race won by Putin, said the "Russian authorities have no idea about the value of human life".

"Why bother fighting political rivals when you can muzzle them?" asked Yavlinsky in a jibe at the legal proceedings against media mogul Vladimir Gusinsky, head of Russian's independent media group Media-MOST.

Four hundred delegates from throughout Russia traveled to Moscow to attend the event, which was organized by several human rights groups including Memorial, the Andrei Sakharov Center and the Glasnost Foundation.

The conference slammed human rights abuses in Chechnya, where Russia is fighting a drawn-out war against separatist guerrillas.

It also attacked standards of press freedom as well as what delegates said was the growing influence of the secret services in the country's political life.

Rights campaigner Sergei Kovalyov told the conference Saturday that Putin, a former KGB colonel, was taking the country back down the road towards its repressive Soviet past.

CIS online, Agence France Presse, January 22, 2001