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St.Petersburg Times, November 28, 2003

Yavlinsky Slams Kremlin Stance

By Irina Titova

The Kremlin wants a tame State Duma, says Grigory Yavlinsky leader of the liberal Yabloko party.

"The administration thinks that creating a tame Duma with an obedient majority will be useful for them," Yavlinsky said at a news conference in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

"However, this dangerous road will only lead Russia to its traditional Potemkin village [status]," he said.

A Potemkin village refers to an illusory sense of well-being created by Count Grigory Potyomkin, who painted pretty facades on buildings and dressed their peasant inhabitants as nobles so that Catherine the Great would believe they lived well when she passed through in her coach.

"The government should be interested in having an independent legislative organ," he said. "Otherwise, it will lead to weakening of the Russian power."

The election campaign for the State Duma is characterized by "unequal conditions" for different parties, Yavlinksy said.

The pro-Kremlin party United Russia, which is leading the race according to opinion polls, enjoys overwhelming coverage in the mass media, and especially on television, he said.

Russia has developed a system "that is cosmically distant from free politics," and where "no democratic society is being created," he added.

"Russia has built up the system of pereferiinyi, or bandit capitalism, which lacks independent legislative and judicial authorities, as well as a politically significant independent mass media," he said.

All parties running in the election have something to lose, Yavlinsky said.

"Some will defend their power; some their property; some - practically nothing, like Communists, who have to defend only what they had long before that time.

"We will defend freedom," Yavlinsky said.

Boris Vishnevsky, member of Yabloko faction in St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly, said Yabloko traditionally enjoys good support in St. Petersburg and has three deputies in the State Duma.

"St. Petersburg is a city of intellectuals, and that's exactly the social level that Yabloko leans on," Vishnevsky said. Polls show that Yabloko may get 10-15 percent of votes in St. Petersburg, he said.

In the 1999 State Duma elections the party 11.21 percent.

Tatyana Protasenko, senior reseacher at the Institute of Sociology of Russian Academy of Science, said Yabloko is contesting third or the fourth place in St. Petersburg for the Duma elections with the Communists. United Russia is leading and the Union of Right Forces is second, she said.


During his visit, Yavlinsky met with St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matviyenko to discuss his party's representatives in the city administration.

Yavlinsky said Yabloko did not aim to have its representatives in high positions such as vice-governorships, but asked to have its professional representatives on city committees. "We think that professional represenation in executive structures is more important than political appointments," he said.


See also:

the original at

State Duma elections 2003

St.Petersburg Times, November 28, 2003

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