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Vremya Novostei, October 22, 2003

The Union of Right-Wing Forces 2003 or Chubais 2008
Looking at the future of the Union of Right-Wing Forces

By Andrei Piontkovsky

Of course, we realised there was a desperate power struggle behind the scenes of the presidential administration before Gleb Pavlovsky's recent articles about a group consisting of Ivanov, Sechin, Pugachev and Ustinov. However, we were only able to glimpse a certain movement in the shadows behind the walls of the Kremlin cave. Gleb Pavlovsky showed us the fascinating world of the problems of patronage in the Russian economy and the feeding of the Russian elite.

The opinion of a journalist, who support the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS), revealed to society not long ago, is no less interesting. It transpired that the SPS's election campaign had been monopolised by YABLOKO's opponents Anatoly Chubais, Alfred Kokh and Leonid Gozman. This fight is senseless, as the SPS and YABLOKO are not competing for the same electorate. The SPS positions itself as a party of the successful, who, according to Berezovsky, have not being idle during recent years, and have instead gathered wealth. YABLOKO has a different electorate.

Obviously at an early stage these two different clusters had a common core inherited from the democratic and human rights movement. However, modern leaders abandoned this dead weight for the sake of political expediency a long time ago.

The SPS stated during the military-election hysteria in autumn 1999 that "the Russian Army is being revived in Chechnya", and anyone with a different opinion was a traitor. Now it is clear that the Russian Army is falling apart, and most people demand that Russia start peace negotiations. In these circumstances the SPS does not feel shy of using the arguments of the people they had previoulsy considered traitors.

The leaders of the SPS like to talk about freedom of speech and drawbacks in Putin's model of "managed democracy". However, the ritual purge of NTV, leading to self-censorship in the media, marked a very important event in the establishment of managed democracy. The government tried to ruin NTV by using the prosecutor, the FSB and the Media Ministry two years ago. The regime only succeeded after sending in amnestied criminal Alfred Kokh (see note 1).

In other words, the reputation of the SPS is so spoilt that it is unlikely that it will manage to win over many voters. Experts note that the SPS has not resolved its election problems. Analysts working at the SPS fear that if their party wins only 5.09% of the vote in the election and manages to oust YABLOKO from the Duma, this result would satisfy Anatoly Chubais. The priority task for Chubais in the election campaign 2003 is to remove Yavlinsky's party from the political arena. Chubais is ready to surrender some of his pawns in exchange for YABLOKO's queen. Chubais' future is not linked to the presence of the SPS in the Duma. The oligarch and the top executive at a natural monopoly, who distributes revenues during the reform of RAO UES, has enough political influence without the Union of Right-Wing Forces.

Putin's neo-stagnation will end anyway, and society will need a conceptual escape from the system of oligarchic capitalism created under Boris Yeltsin. At present only two forces - the main critic of the system and its architect - can offer reasonable solutions (see note 2).The choice between Chubais and Yavlinsky will become the choice between liberal democracy and the Russian Oligarchy in 2008. That is why Chubais declared a suicidal war between YABLOKO and the Union of Right-Wing Forces. He would like to determine the result of this contest in 2003.

However, Chubais's first dramatic move in the 2003 campaign proved unsuccessful. Of course, the slogan of "a liberal empire" can enrapture the Russian political elite for a time. However, it is doomed to ruin relations with Russia's neighbours. People living in these countries need friendly relations with Russia. They will never want to become subjects of a new Russian Emperor. The Russian people will not do this either.

1. Amnestied criminal: this is not a literary metaphor; this is a precise definition of Mr. Kokh's legal civil status; Kokh chose this status voluntarily long ago.
2. Anatoli Chubais: "I had to choose between the Communists and criminal capitalism. I chose the latter."

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Vremya Novostei, October 22, 2003

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