[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Gazeta.ru, February 19, 2004

Duma's liberal oddballs unite

By Alia Samigullina

Five State Duma deputie set up informal grouping in the lower house.

After weeks of consultations, the handful of liberals, who won single-mandate seats to the lower house in December's parliamentary elections, have formed a league of their own. It was presented to the press at a news conference at Interfax. The coalition was formed by members of two right-of-centre parties which failed to win Duma seats in last year's elections - Yabloko's Galina Khovanskaya, Sergei Popov, Mikhail Zadornov and Liberal Russia's Viktor Pokhmelkin. Vladimir Ryzhkov, an independent, also joined the group.

The latter, incidentally, did not show up at the news conference on Wednesday. ''He is currently in Altai (Ryzhkov's home region where he won his Duma seat - Gazeta.Ru) and has not been able to leave Barnaul for two days now,'' Zadornov informed the press. "We were all elected in single-mandate constituencies by people who adhere to certain liberal-democratic views,''Mikhail Zadornov told the press. "The group's creation is our response to anti-democratic actions undertaken by the Duma majority after the elections,'' Viktor Pokhmelkin continued.

The new group is clearly unable to provide an effective counterbalance to the pro-Kremlin United Russia faction that controls as many as 306 seats in the lower house Under new Duma regulations endorsed shortly after the Duma elections, to secure official status, a deputy group has to have at least 55 members.

At any rate, Galina Khovanskaya admitted, they had failed to meet the required minimum. She is convinced that had they managed to win over 55 deputies to their side, the Duma majority would have amended the regulations again, increasing the number of deputies needed to form a deputy group from 55 to, say, 75. Still, the liberals are not ready to give up and have already begun consultations with five other deputies who may also join their informal coalition in the near future. At the same time not everyone is welcome to join, Viktor Pokhmelkin said. For example, Sergei Glazyev, the embattled co-chairman of the Motherland bloc who has been at loggerheads with his one-time ally, Dmitry Rogozin and who faces expulsion from his faction, was hinted at.

The new coalition plans to advance legislative initiatives well-known to he five. For instance, they will take an active part in debates on the new Housing Code, with Galina Khovanskaya a recognized expert in that sphere. Lawyer Sergei Popov will oversee amendments to the package of laws on judicial reform, amendments to the Administrative Code, and improvements to the law on enforcing court orders. Viktor Pokhmelkin, co-founder of the Automotive Russia movement, will seek to improve the new car insurance laws.

Journalists attending the news conference could not help thinking that the group was another attempt by Vladimir Ryzhkov to set up a right-wing faction in the State Duma. That idea and Ryzhkov's candidacy for the post of new liberal leader was actively discussed after the December polls, only to be dropped shortly afterwards, since Yabloko and the Union of Right-Wing Forces rejected the proposals. Some even said that Ryzhkov was the latest project of the Kremlin's spin doctors, alarmed over the liberals' failure to secure seats in the lower house. On Wednesday the five dispelled those doubts, claiming that their decision to set up the coalition was their own initiative and that they had had no negotiations with people from "there".


See also:

Group of 5 Deputies Tries to Find Its Voice, By Caroline McGregor, The Moscow Times, February 19, 2004 Zadornov, together with Vladimir Ryzhkov, Sergei Popov, Viktor Pokhmelkin, and Galina Khovanskaya, were left to fend for themselves when their obvious allies, leading liberal-democratic parties Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces, failed to win seats in December's parliamentary elections.

Gazeta.ru, February 19, 2004

[home page][map of the server][news of the server][forums][publications][Yabloko's Views]

Project Director: Vyacheslav Erohin e-mail: admin@yabloko.ru Director: Olga Radayeva, e-mail: english@yabloko.ru
Administrator: Vlad Smirnov, e-mail: vladislav.smirnov@yabloko.ru