This was the first emergency congress of Yabloko that journalists
were barred from. The movement's leadership explained thatthe
congress was purely "technical", that it had been convened for
the purpose of broadening the Central Council from 45 to 60 members
by introducing regional representatives into it. All the same,
Grigori Yavlinsky's report didnot have anything to do with the
election of new Central Council members. It was an analysis of
Vladimir Putin's presidency.
The congress did not appraise the president. According to Yabloko's
press secretary Yevgeniya Dillendorf, the delegates listened to
Yavlinsky's report but did not discuss it or pass a decision.
At the congress held in early AugustYavlinsky assured everybody
that Yabloko wouldmake up its mind with regards to the president
by the next congress (whether it should become a "party of human
rights activists" or a "party of opposition to the police state").
Judging by how the Yabloko faction voted on the 2001 budget, it
will become neither of the two. It seems that the previous uncompromising
Yabloko has become a constructive opposition so as to seeat least
some of its ideas implemented.Yabloko will decide what compromises
it is prepared to make with the president only when it seeswhat
compromises the president is readyfor.
For the time being, the congress appealed to the president to
launch military reforms in 2001. This is supposed to become a
kind of test for the president and his readiness for compromises.
It also suggested that the countrybegan a transition to a professional
army (service by contract) in 2001. Yabloko's calculations show
that the 2001 budget does have themoney to reduce the number of
conscripts in 2001. Putin's reaction will make it clear whatkind
of cooperation the president is prepared to give.
Time will show whether or not the president finds Yabloko and
its appeals interesting. On the other hand, this is Yabloko's
chance to improve its rating - the youth in this country is always
alert to all news concerning conscription. If the Yabloko succeeds,
then its coursefor "rejuvenation" is a success indeed. To a certain
extent, its implementation already began at the emergency congress
last weekend. All fifteen new members are younger than 25.