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Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 19, 2002

His opponents reject his plan for reforming RAO UES even after revisions

By Anatoli Kostyukov

Yesterday the Duma delegation of the YABLOKO faction handed Andrei Sharonov, RF Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, an alternative draft for reforming the electricity sector of Russia. Before this ceremony Deputy Head of the YABLOKO faction Igor Artemyev confirmed the willingness of the faction to vote jointly against the concept proposed by the government and recommended recalling the whole package of draft laws on restructuring RAO UES, which had already been sent by the Cabinet to the State Duma.

YABLOKO's opposition to the “Chubais” energy sector reforms is nothing new to its developers. A month ago the Federal Council of the party adopted a statement with the self-explanatory title "On Political Adventeurism in Conducting Reform in the Electricity Sector." The leader of YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky informed President Vladimir Putin that the government draft was irrelevant. According to YABLOKO's assessment, the government draft had been "drafted under the dictatorship of RAO UES", "contradicted the Constitution" and "legalises illegal actions for the acquisition of property". The opponents [of the government draft] think that this will culminate in the "privatisation by the top management of RAO UES of the most profitable assets in the electricity sector" and will lead to the generation of excess profits, as management exercises its "right to repeatedly raise tariffs." Therefore YABLOKO expects the initiators of the concept to "guarantee consumer rights", "protect the population from unjustified increases in electricity tariffs," "guarantee privatisation transparency", etc.

The package of draft laws for reforming the energy sector, submitted to the State Duma, is not exactly what is called "the Chubais draft". A tripartite commission consisting of representatives from the Cabinet, the Federation Council and the State Duma worked on the documents prepared by RAO UES for a long time. However, according to deputies and experts, the improvements introduced by the commission are "absolutely insufficient". Consequently they put forward their own concept.

Persistent allegations of Yavlinsky's supporters against the official draft for reform of the electricity sector represent a serious test to the "strategic partnership" between YABLOKO and the Union of Ring-Wing Forces (SPS) that the two parties promise to consolidateconsolidate and develop on almost a weekly basis. As Anatoli Chubais and his management position are dear to the Union of Right-Wing forces, and declarations by Grigory Yavlinsky and his supporters can hardly resemble "amicable criticism", the SPS seriously questions any further cooperation with YABLOKO. They fail to realise that YABLOKO is seeking above all the dismissal of Chubais from RAO. Yavlinsky's faction cannot do this on its own. However, it can be involved in this process together with communists and members from the People's Deputy Group, who also disliked the proposed concept. Consequently, a pool may be formed. This will be enough to recognise recognise the reformist activity of Chubais as publicly dangerous.

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Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 19, 2002

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