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.
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.
"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
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
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
"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
But Yavlinsky and other Yabloko politicians dismissed Chubais' calls
to unite behind a single presidential candidate in the March presidential
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."
the original at
Yabloko and SPS
Elections to the State Duma, 2003