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March 18, 2004

A meeting between Grigory Yavlinsky and members of the Russian branch of the PEN-club took place last week.

Most of the discussion evolved around developments with Russian democracy since 1985. According to Grigory Yavlinsky, with the beginning of perestroika people discovered that another life was quite possible: without fear. Lies and the absurd. The state can be arranged to ensure that citizens rights can be exercised, instead of a fight against them. The state should not only protect property rights, but also support an efficient social system. And people strived for such changes.

However, the revolution went on only for two days, and then termidor. The same bosses, who were simply in new suits and pouted new slogans came to power. Lies and corruption began to return, inflation amounted to 2,600 per cent, criminal privatisation and war began, non-democratic presidential elections and the default took place. As all this happened under democratic slogans, it was consequently followed by a natural wave of disappointment from most people over democracy and liberalism.

Asked about the nature of capitalism, Yavlinsky responded that as power is "the mother" of property, the acquisition and redistribution of property is "criminal and conspiratory." Thus, stressed Yavlinsky, the present oligarchs "do not know how to finance, they only know how to buy."

Asked whether it is possible to observe morals in politics, Yavlinsky agreed that it is impossible to "stay a saint", but that "hygienic norms" are a must in politics too.

Speaking about his attitude to the reforms of the 1990s, Yavlinsky noted that he distinguished three categories of reformers: clever advisors, silly advisors, and those who provided silly advice but managed to make real capital out of it. Asked about Yegor Gaidar, Yavlinsky responded that as an economist Gaidar opposed voucher privatisation, but did not openly oppose it owing to sense of corporate solidarity.

President of the Russian PEN-Club Andrei Bitov reiterated that when he met Yavlinsky in 1997, Yavlinsky pointed out that YABLOKO was waging on young people. "What will win in the end, asked Bitov the availability of books for everybody to read or low-quality popular TV programmes?" Yavlinsky admitted that he did not have an answer.

The meeting took place at the Russian branch of the PEN-Club on March 9, 2004; other participants of the meeting consisted of Andre Bitov, Eugeni Bunimovich,Girogry Pasko, Lev Timofeev, Ludmila Ulitskaya and others; the meeting was chaired by Alexander Tkachenko.

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Grigory Yavlinsky

March 18, 2004

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