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The Moscow Times, November 6, 2003

Chubais Offers Yavlinsky a Merger

By Oksana Yablokova

Igor Tabakov / MT
Yavlinsky (right) looking at Chubais as the two men attended last week's rally to commemorate the victims of Stalin's repressions.
In the wake of the attacks on Yukos, Union of Right Forces co-leader Anatoly Chubais urged Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky to put personal rivalry and ambition aside and work to merge their parties going into next month's State Duma elections.

"The events that have taken place in Russia in recent weeks have revealed dangerous symptoms of a possible revision of the country's political course," Chubais wrote in a letter published on the web site of the Union of Right Forces, or SPS.

Yabloko Duma Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin turned the merger call down flat, accusing Chubais, who heads the electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems, of leading a smear campaign against the party using UES financial resources.

But a spokesperson for Yavlinsky said that he had read the letter and was thinking over the proposal.

Chubais' letter conceded it was "no secret that our personal relations are the stumbling block in drawing together and in a possible merger of the Yabloko and SPS parties," but urged both parties to focus on similarities rather than differences.

"Both you and I see Russia's return to dictatorship as a catastrophe. This is the most weighty reason for the unification," the letter read.

The two parties have been touted for a merger since 2000. Most merger calls have come from SPS leaders, but Yabloko has so far declined to move beyond talks, citing Chubais' presence at the helm of SPS as the main obstacle.

Yavlinsky said Wednesday that the two parties would try to coordinate their efforts in parliament, as they have in the past. He said that attacks on Yukos, which has provided financial assistance to both parties, represent "a good reason for the unification of all democratic forces against lawlessness," but declined to be drawn further on the question of a merger.

"As for now, we will focus on the creation of an independent Duma, with a considerable representation of democratic forces," Yavlinsky said. "We would like to have a democratic partner like SPS [in the next Duma]."

But Yavlinsky and other Yabloko politicians dismissed Chubais' calls to unite behind a single presidential candidate in the March presidential elections.

Later Wednesday, Chubais said that he felt more hopeful than before that a merger could work out, though not for the December elections, adding that Yavlinsky was quite capable of "drawing new conclusions out of the situation."

"For the first time I heard from Grigory Alexeyevich [Yavlinsky] that he agrees with Chubais in assessing the existing situation," Chubais told reporters. "Do you remember that Yavlinsky ever agreed with Chubais before? I don't."


See also:

the original at

Yabloko and SPS

Elections to the State Duma, 2003

The Moscow Times, November 6, 2003

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