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Novye Izvestia, August 8, 2003

Liberals blame Chubais and Kokh for dirty campaign tactics
Tension rises between Yabloko and the Union of Right-Wing Forces

By Alexander Kolesnichenko

Sergei Mitrokhin maintains that Anatoly Chubais, head of the Russian United Energy Systems (UES) has allocated $5 million to discredit Yabloko, and that the anti-Yabloko campaign is being orchestrated by Alfred Kokh, campaign manager for the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS). There have already been a score of media articles accusing Yabloko of populism and lacking constructive ideas. Dummy organisations are being set up. Unrelated to the real Yabloko party, they nevertheless organize demonstrations and release statements in Yabloko's name. This particularly applies to the Movement of Yavlinsky's Supporters and the Yabloko Without Yavlinsky movement.

Mitrokhin does not fear legal action from the leaders of the SPS. On the contrary, he himself is threatening them with legal action. Mitrokhin expects to see them in court in September, "as the election campaign is not officially on yet, so electoral legislation is not yet in effect."

Mitrokhin attributes the attacks on his party to "critical moods" in the SPS as its rating has dropped below the 5% required to enter the Duma and therefore to the danger of failure at the elections. Yabloko's own rating never goes below 6%.

Sources in the upper echelons of the SPS deny all the allegations. "Sure, we have some grievances against Yabloko, but we have never used dirty campaign tactics," said Viktor Nikrutenko, Secretary of the SPS.

Nikrutenko does not think that brawling will benefit either the SPS or Yabloko, because their electorates are similar. As for the PR campaign against Yabloko, Nikrutenko believes that its architects can be found in the non-democratic camp.

Political scientists maintain that relations between the two democratic parties have never been so unfriendly. The SPS hopes to remove Grigory Yavlinsky as Yabloko leader, in order to win over some votes. After all, the SPS owed its success in the 1999 parliamentary campaign to the fact that many pro-democracy voters were disillusioned with Yabloko.

"Yabloko's stable electorate does not exceed 3%," said Boris Makarenko, deputy director of the Political Techniques Centre. "Its unstable electorate amounts to approximately the same figure. These are the people who are still undecided about whom to vote for - Yabloko or some other party. The battle is now underway for these voters."

Political analyst Boris Kagarlitsky maintains that the problem stems from relations between the Yabloko and the SPS. Kagarlitsky: Yabloko voters hate the SPS even more than their ideological opponents, the Communists. They are convinced that Anatoly Chubais of the SPS is Russia's public enemy number one. That is why Yabloko leaders are forced to demonstrate over and over again that they have nothing to do with the SPS.


See also:

State Duma elections 2003


Novye Izvestia, August 8, 2003

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