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Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, October 14, 2003

SPS, YABLOKO Leaders Tangle on Issue of "Liberal Empire"

By Victor Yassman

During a prime-time television debate on 10 October on state-controlled ORT television, Unified Energy Systems (EES) head and Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) leader Anatolii Chubais defended his recent comments that Russia should create a "liberal empire."

In those 25 September remarks, he said that a combination of a market economy and aggressive expansion should be Russia's ideology for the next 20-30 years. Without economic and political expansion within the CIS and beyond, Russia cannot preserve its own territorial integrity and resources, Chubais argued.

Only by combining liberal values and a program designed to reestablish its empire "can Russia occupy its natural place alongside the United States, the European Union, and Japan, the place designated for it by history," Chubais said.

Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii, appearing on the same ORT broadcast on 10 October, said that Chubais's proposal "will lead Russia to clash with its neighbors" and deflect its citizenry from a more realistic and important goal -- "dismantling Russian bandit capitalism."

"If we raise the living standard of our 40 million citizens who are living below the poverty line, if we restore the independent mass media and an independent judiciary, then Russia will become the center of gravity within the CIS without creating an empire," Yavlinskii said.

Izvestia.ru on 12 October commented that this is not the first time that Chubais has advocated a radical populist position during an election campaign. The website recalled that in 1999 Chubais defended the latest military action in Chechnya, saying, "The Russian Army will begin its revival in Chechnya."


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Yabloko and SPS

Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, October 14, 2003

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