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Moscow News, August 29, 2003

SPS, RAO YeES Seen behind Attack on YABLOKO

MN Politics Desk

The emergence on the political scene of a movement called Yabloko without Yavlinsky marked a new stage in the evolution of the conflict between the two parties. Last week, Leonid Gozman, a member of the RAO YeES Integrated Energy Systems board and head of the SPS coordinating council, told journalists that the energy company was suing Sergei Mitrokhin for damaging the reputation of RAO executives with his remarks that had led to a drop in company share prices and market value. RAO leadership suspects that Yabloko is concerned not so much about election campaigning methods as about the interests of certain commercial structures that are hoping to buy up RAO YeES shares on the cheap.
With regard to the purported involvement of energo executives, who also double as SPS leaders, and Alfred Kokh in the action against Yabloko, Gozman only said that he was not privy to the SPS specific plans so he does not know whether the action pledged by Kokh in his August 8 interview has gone ahead, adding that the RAO YeES statute does not envision the use of sleaze tactics. As for PR companies engaged in the Yabloko without Yavlinsky project, nothing is known about their contacts with RAO either.

Meanwhile, there seems to be some connection between SPS, RAO and Y without Y.

The Y without Y group chose to stake out its positions at a news conference organized by a certain PR company. The latter was not particularly careful about it, sending to various media outlets a letter that, contrary to general practice, guaranteed payment for stories on the newly founded movement and asking to name a journalist who would be assigned to write a report. The letter contained the address, telephone number, and name of a manager of the R.I.M. Porter Novelli agency.

The agency is part of one of the major PR conglomerates that are running, both officially and unofficially, a number of joint projects. In particular R.I.M. is a co-founder, together with Image-Contact and some other participants, of So-obschenie magazine, edited by Pyotr Shchedrovitsky. The latter is known both as an active participant in RAO YeES projects and as an organizer of the SPS Duma campaign in 1999. He is still one of the main political advisers to Sergei Kiriyenko. Image-Contact, in addition to participation in Russia Is Our Home and Medved projects, in 2000, also ran a presidential campaign for the SPS nominee Konstantin Titov. As for R.I.M. itself, its head, Igor Pisarsky, took part in the first election campaign of the Russias Democratic Choice (Chubais-Gaidar) party and then in promoting the Russia Is Our Home party.

The address given in the letter proved real (true, experts say a senders e-mail address could be easily forged). R.I.M. Porter Novelli, however, vehemently denies any involvement in organizing the Y without Y campaign or sending out any business proposals. Nonetheless, a Y without Y commercial has already been placed in some St. Petersburg print media outlets. In particular, just ahead of the movements presentation, and a week afterward, Smena and Vecherny Peterburg dailies ran the same text signed by the same person. Furthermore, we have evidence from journalists who called the agencys telephone number ostensibly to discuss the proposal. According to Oksana Zaitseva, a Sovremenny Gorozhanin reporter, the conversation was most business-like. No one denied the ads authorship: They were only interested in the papers circulation and the cost of ad placement. The agency refused to place any Y without Y ads in the paper, citing financial constraints.

All of the above does not of course prove beyond any doubt that the SPS or RAO YeES masterminded the latest PR campaign against Yabloko. Even so, if it was not the SPS that commissioned the project but some unknown force, the latter did everything to implicate the right-wing, thus showing that Yablokos comments were well-placed.


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the original at:
Moscow News

Yabloko and SPS

Moscow News, August 29, 2003

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