After evaluating the prospects of the right of centre in the impending elections, liberals from the Yabloko Party announced that their leader Grigory Yavlinsky would not attend a Wednesday meeting with Boris Nemtsov. It looks as if Yabloko politicians believe they will get enough seats in the Duma, while the party of Chubais, Nemtsov and Khakamada will get none.
As Gazeta.Ru has learned from its sources in Yabloko, the meeting between Yavlinsky and Nemtsov, initially scheduled for Wednesday, will not happen. The invitation originally came from the Union of Right-Wing Forces, with Nemtsov making a final attempt to reach a agreement with his rival. On Tuesday the top figures in Yabloko held a meeting and decided that their chief must not meet Nemtsov.
Rumours that the leaders of the two democratic blocs were holding confidential talks had been touted by the Russian media for two weeks. One person was especially active in this regard: Yevgeniy Kiselev - the host of the Itogi programme on the TVS channel who even invited Yavlinsky and Nemtsov to his studio (albeit one at a time), and hinted that the parties could fail to gather the required 5 percent of the vote, even footing the bill for an opinion poll that confirmed these pessimistic thoughts.
The two parties each have their own projects for union. Yabloko organized a democratic conference and late last year published the Charter of the New Democratic Coalition (which appeared on the Internet this week), while the SPS launched its own democratic congress. Yabloko members proposed a complicated scheme of mutual support, while the SPS suggested a simpler move - Yavlinsky would act as second candidate in the Duma elections (between Nemtsov and Khakamada), but would at next year's presidential elections become the single candidate of the democratic opposition.
Nemtsov is especially aggressive in insisting on an electoral bloc. Speaking on Kiselev's programme, he said that his rival Yavlinsky should put political ambitions to one side and unite in such basic positions as civil freedoms, a relaxation of the tax burden, and military reform. Yabloko maintains that even democrats cannot easily unite if their views differ on such things as the reforms of Communal Services and the energy sector. ''We are different parties,'' Yavlinsky's closest comrade Sergei Mitrokhin announced recently on the possible union with the SPS.
The discussion about the reforms went so far that the Yabloko leadership demanded that the SPS expel Anatoly Chubais, Yegor Gaidar and Sergei Kiriyenko from its ranks (the three men are in the party's political council and Chubais is like a godfather figure to the SPS). The democratic coalition charter puts it straightforwardly: ''People's trust in the new democratic union will be worthless if it is headed by those who supported the war in Chechnya, conducted criminal privatization, created state-owned financial pyramids and conducted a default in their self-interest.''
Nemtsov replied on Tuesday: ''Possibly, from the standpoint of cheap populism it would be very elegant to say that we remove Chubais from our party. But it would be treachery.''
The statement was made before Yabloko decided that Yavlinsky should not attend Wednesday's meeting with the rightists. That is why Nemtsov added that the union would continue to try to make an alliance with Yabloko. The subject may well be raised again just before the Duma elections, once the controversy surrounding the present proposals has died down.
YABLOKO and the SPS
State Duma elections 2003
Presidential elections 2004