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Olga Tropkina

Nemtsov proposes Yavlinsky as next President

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 4, 2001

There is something of a lull in the process of negotiations between the Union of Right-Wing Forces and Yabloko over creating a coalition with a single list of candidates for the next election. However, last weekend, the right reminded the public that the process is still underway. Actually, the talks took an unexpected turn this time. Boris Nemtsov, leader of the Union of Right-Wing Forces faction, made the sensational statement that the two organisations might nominate a single candidate for president in 2004.

Nemtsov added, somewhat piously, that "it would be the height of stupidity and a crime against the state if the Union of Right-Wing Forces and Yabloko were to fieldseparate candidates." Nemtsov's far-reaching and ambitious plans, seem rather odd, when set against the background of the petty quarrels over leadership within the Union of Right-Wing Forces. Firstly, we may recall the process of the unification of the Union of Right-Wing Forces and Yabloko. The process has been underway for some time already with nothing to show (compared to the same process with Fatherland and Unity). Last autumn, Yavlinsky's deputy in the Duma, Sergei Ivanenko, denied all speculation about problems encountered during the unification as groundless, as work on the mechanism of compiling a single list of candidates was almost complete. But in winter Grigory Yavlinsky himself had refused to discuss the mechanism. He had merely said that the time was not right. Our sources in both organisations are becoming markedly more sceptical about the very possibility of unification. They inevitably refer to the ambitions of Yabloko's leaders.

Viewed in this background, Nemtsov's words do appear strange. Speaking on behalf of the Union of Right-Wing Forces, Nemtsov all but hinted that Yavlinsky of Yabloko would become the candidate. Nemtsov said he had voted for Yavlinsky in 2000. For 2004, however, Nemtsov suggested the use of primaries - somewhat out of sync with the idea of a single candidate. Given the difficulties of electing a leader for its political council, the Union of Right-Wing Forces is unlikely to come up with a single presidential candidate without considerable trouble, scandals and mutual accusations. Moreover, some analysts even doubt that matters will ever reach the point of primaries - simply because the right will hardly want to nominate one such politician at all for the lack of choice. Some observers also expect Nemtsov's idea about Yavlinsky to encounter resistance from Sergei Kiryenko, Anatoly Chubais, Irina Khakamada, Yegor Gaidar, and regional branches of the Union of Right-Wing Forces. In this situation, Nemtsov's words may be taken as a kind of "agreement between two leaders", whose objective is rather vague.

Perhaps Nemtsov is just waiting for a response from Yabloko - something like a proposal from Yavlinsky that Nemtsov ought to be the candidate. Nemtsov would find this more than simply convenient. The congress where Union of Right-Wing Forces is to be transformed into a party is coming up soon; there are problems with the leadership of the future party; and Nemtsov needs the image of a unifier of all democratic forces in Russia. But will these democratic forces, which are mostly loyal to the regime, want the eternal oppositionist Yavlinsky as their leader?

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 4, 2001

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