| Sources at YABLOKO headquarters yesterday refused to confirm
reports in the media that party leader Grigory
Yavlinsky had visited the Kremlin the previous evening.
"There have been no visits," said YABLOKO deputy leader Sergei
Mitrokhin when asked for details of the meeting.
Yavlinsky's Press Secretary Eugeniya
Dillendorf told us that YABLOKO would neither confirm nor deny the
reports - leaving the privilege to Echo of Moscow radio, which first reported
Yavlinsky's visit to the Kremlin. Dillendorf meant it. Even YABLOKO's
official website didn't post a confirmation or denial of the reports yesterday.
A senior presidential administration official only had this to say:
"Even if Yavlinsky did visit the Kremlin, he did not meet the president."
In the afternoon, however, some insiders who insisted on remaining anonymous
ventured to speculate that Yavlinsky had been invited to meet Putin to
discuss nuclear waste imports. This may have been a false theory aimed
at misleading the curious.
In any event, observers suspect that Yavlinsky was invited to the Kremlin
and asked to run for president. These suspicions are particularly strong
in the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS), because Yavlinsky's separate
negotiations with the president would ruin plans for the two parties to
cooperate in the presidential campaign. (Ed. In fact, YABLOKO's leaders
reiterated that they thought it incorrect to nominate a party candidate
for the presidential elections given the lack of free democratic elections,
free mass media and independent judiciary.)
It is common knowledge that the SPS had been hoping until the very last
moment that it would be possible to nominate a single candidate. However,
negotiations have failed to produce any results. Leaders of the two political
parties refuse to admit it, but reliable sources claim that the search
for candidates is over. The SPS has asked YABLOKO to join it in boycotting
the election, or urge YABLOKO supporters to vote against all candidates.
On Wednesday, several YABLOKO functionaries admitted that the boycott
idea was tempting. Yavlinsky himself said: "I do not plan to take
part in the presidential elections, as I do not consider them to be democratic."
In other words, an alliance was being formed on the right wing: an alliance
the Communists may have joined as well.
Needless to say, the prospect of a boycott frightened the Kremlin - and
Yavlinsky may have been summoned in the hope of persuading the YABLOKO
leader to abandon a protest action that could jeopardize the necessary
There is still no confirmation of whether Yavlinsky did visit the Kremlin,
or what was discussed there if he did. Valery Khomyakov, a member of the
SPS political council, doesn't believe
that any joint action with YABLOKO is possible. "I'm convinced that
Saturday's YABLOKO congress will nominate Yavlinsky for president,"
he said. "The Kremlin will even help him with his presidential campaign."
Some democrats retain the hope that common sense will prevail. Lyudmila
Alexeyeva of the Moscow Helsinki Group sent an open letter to YABLOKO
and SPS leaders, urging them to continue their search for a joint candidate.
If they fail, Alexeyeva encourages leaders of the parties to ask for their
Congress of YABLOKO
Presidential elections 2004
YABLOKO and SPS