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Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 17, 2002

The Meeting of the Federal Council of YABLOKO Ends in Moscow Region

By Anna Zakatnova

Representatives from 55 regional branches of the party attended the meeting of the Federal Council of YABLOKO. It took them three days to discuss YABLOKO's official position with regard to the regime, personnel matters, and preparations for the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Grigory Yavlinsky's supporters welcome Vladimir Putin's foreign policy but democratically object to his domestic course. Yavlinsky emphasized in his speech that Putin's pro-Western foreign policy could not be implemented if his domestic policy resembles that pursued by Central Asian regimes. Generally speaking, Yavlinsky evaluates Russia's current position as critical. He is of the opinion that "the thesis of controllable democracy is losing credibility" and that it is time we began talking about "a system incorporating criminal-corrupt elements". The presidential administration is the strongest link in the chain, according to the YABLOKO leader.

It seems, however, that all this criticism serves one purpose only: preparation for the next elections. According to Sergei Ivanenko, deputy leader of the YABLOKO faction, "the national congress is the party's way of entering the election phase". During the congress,

YABLOKO resolved to "compile inter-regional lists for 15 regions with 7,000,000 voters each". Yavlinsky's followers also endorsed the idea of fielding 26 candidates for the Duma.

Regarding cooperation with Boris Nemtsov's associates, YABLOKO now denies even the possibility of keeping the traditional coalition between Yabloko and the Union of Right-Wing Forces . Or rather the notion of the coalition was seriously corrected.

According to Ivanenko, YABLOKO has not abandoned the idea of having a democratic coalition, but does not see any sense in making a joint list of candidates from YABLOKO and the Union of Right-Wing Forces. The Union of Right-Wing Forces and YABLOKO disagree on a number of issues, ranging from economic policy to Chechnya, environmental protection and oligarchs. As Ivanenko put it, "had the threat of totalitarianism or fascism been real, we would have acted differently. There is, however, no such threat".

It is hardly surprising therefore that YABLOKO accepted Alexander Osovtsov, a defector from the Union of Right-Wing Forces. He was immediately elected into the upper echelons of YABLOKO.

Yavlinsky, a man who takes membership issues rather seriously, said that acceptance of Osovtsov "represents an admission of the party's capacities and a political necessity".

See also: Elections to the State Duma, 2003

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 17, 2002

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