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Commersant. July 6, 2002

YABLOKO and the Union of Right-Wing Forces to Agree in Autumn

By Syuzanna Farizova

On July 5, a meeting of the united political council of the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) and Yabloko was held in the Duma. After a debate that lasted two hours, the two democratic parties decided to run in the 2003 parliamentary election separately but coordinate their lists of candidates in single-mandate districts. The main issue forthe parties - the nomination of a single candidate in the 2004 presidential election - was not decided.

According to a participant at this event, initially Yabloko member Sergei Ivanenko announced that he had not seen any documents concerning the nomination of a joint presidential candidate, and refused to discuss this issue. His colleague Vladimir Lukin was surprised by Ivanenko's ignorance, and showed him a document containing Yabloko's amendments. However, after the document had been studied, Lukin unexpectedly agreed with Ivanenko and announced that it was still too early to discuss this issue. This position did not appeal to Boris Nadezhdin (SPS), who proposed "at least talking about this topic." Yabloko members did not agree to any concessions. They said that as this idea originated with SPS leader Boris Nemtsov, he should personally discuss it with Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky.

Neither leader attended the meeting, as they are not members of the joint political council. Then SPS member Irina Khakamada suggested that at least a platform for the negotiations should be prepared. However, Ivanenko continued saying that it was too early even to prepare a platform. After an hour's break, things went more smoothly. About 20 minutes later, members of the political council managed to agree on support for the joint candidates in the future parliamentary election in 45 electoral districts (they have decided not to release the names of the candidates yet). There were some problems with only three regions: Karelia, Murmansk Region, and Kalmikya. Both parties consider their own candidates in these regions to be strong enough.

Joint candidates in Moscow and St. Petersburg will be discussed at a special meeting, as a particularly important issue. Then the two parties returned to the discussion of a joint candidate for president. After realising that this issue would not be decided at this meeting, SPS members suggested that a special meeting of all democratic forces be arranged to discuss the electoral programme of a joint candidate. Yabloko activists agreed to hold such a meeting but suggested that it simply discuss the nomination procedure.

As a result, it was decided to continue the negotiations in autumn, around September. A meeting of the united political council of the SPS and Yabloko was scheduled for November 14. On December 14, a year before the parliamentary election is scheduled, SPS and Yabloko intend to finally approve the lists of joint candidates for the parliamentary election and decide whether to field a single presidential candidate.

See also:
Duma Elections 2003
Presidential Elections 2004

Commersant July 6, 2002

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