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Gazeta, January 29, 2003

YABLOKO Does Not Sell Itself

By Anastasia Matveyeva

As Gazeta have already reported before, today the idea of a coalition between the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) and Yabloko can be forgotten.. Yesterday, on January 28, [Yabloko Leaders] Grigory Yavlinsky and Sergei Ivanenko forwarded to [SPS leaders] Boris Nemtsov and Irina Khakamada a letter, saying the SPS's proposals were unacceptable for Yabloko. The long-awaited meeting of the leaders of the two parties, scheduled for Wednesday, will not take place.

Representatives of the SPS say that from now on, they will make no further attempts to merge with Yabloko.

[ SPS leader] Boris Nemtsov simply refused to comment on the situation. His Press Secretary Lilia Dubovaya said: "We confirm that the meeting "at the Elbe" will not take place. Yavlinsky and his ambitions are to blame for losing this historic opportunity to create a strong democratic coalition. From now on the topic of the creation of a coalition is closed and the SPS will spare no effort to win the elections as an independent party." Dubovaya stressed that the idea of a merger was not simply a PR action for Nemtsov, and that by insisting on this idea Nemtsov had put himself in opposition to many deputies of the [SPS] faction. For example, Nikolai Travkin, a former member of Yabloko, warned him about the futility of any attempts to reach an agreement with Yavlinsky. Dubovaya also noted that Yavlinsky did not even make a personal telephone call to the SPS. "The letter was published in the press. We consider this unbecoming," Dubovaya stressed.

"I don't think we've said anything principally new, Ivanenko explained to Gazeta. -There is no breach of relations, as we didn't register a marriage." Ivanenko believes that the SPS is only interested in one issue - who will be the first and the second on the election list.

Meanwhile, there is "broad scope for joint activities, e.g. cooperation in single-mandate electoral districts and in legislative activities." But the SPS is really offended now, and questions even this form of cooperation. However, SPS members understand that the two parties will need a "non-aggression pact" in any case.

The SPS and Yabloko are at war even on the polling field. Yabloko believes that the results of opinion polls as reported by the SPS press service often do not reflect the actual situation.

A source in the Yabloko press service told us: "Nemtsov and Khakamada have often announced that if the two parties merged, we could get 15-20% of the vote. Meanwhile, VTsIOM polls indicate that this figure is only about 9.4%."

Yabloko has already submitted a corresponding inquiry to the VTsIOM polling agency, and the pollsters are said to be planning an announcement about the SPS's incorrect interpretations of their data.

"The business elite is shocked by Yavlinsky's disagreeability, an SPS source said to Gazeta. According to the source, now Yabloko has stripped itself with its own hands, and representatives of business and the electorate now clearly understand everything. " Why isYavlinsky so arrogant? Is it because the president has promised him a chance to show off on the first and second TV channels? But they will show only what is needed there, and everything else will be cut."

Political analysts believe that the SPS and Yabloko never had a chance to create a combined electoral list for the federal election.

Sergei Kolmakov, vice-president of the Russian Parliamentarism Foundation, stressed that these are two different parties with different electorates and that the merger of these parties would be the same as interbreeding a snake and a hedgehog. According to Kolmakov, the coalition could have increased the electorate base slightly. However, this would have meant for Yabloko a loss of its basic electorate, rural teachers and doctors, who "hate Gaidar and Chubais". Kolmakov says, "Both the parties have been using the idea of a coalition for some time to gain political points. But now it is becoming clear that Yabloko is a party focused on human rights, whereas the SPS is a party supported by the middle class and is closely connected with the oligarchic system, often on a personal level."

See also:


State Duma elections 2003

Presidential elections 2004

Gazeta, January 29, 2003

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