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Izvestia, p. 3, July 6, 2004

Grigory Yavlinsky: "I should have been firmer"
Yavlinsky retains leadership of YABLOKO

By Olga Tropkina
The YABLOKO congress in Moscow region last weekend was a congress full of surprises. Grigory Yavlinsky was elected the party leader once again, but his triumph was somewhat smeared. First, some obscure rival, a certain Yuri Kuznetsov, deprived Yavlinsky of 25% of delegate votes. Secondly, some dissenters appeared in the party.

The unpretentious club in the settlement of Moskovski near Moscow is usually chosen for congresses by the parties that do not exactly have that much cash available. Party functionaries virtually admit that YABLOKO has had serious financial problems for about six months, in actual fact ever since the party's foremost sponsor Mikhail Khodorkovsky was jailed. Judging by Grigory Yavlinsky's speech, the party was defeated at the parliamentary elections mostly because of the business tycoon. Yavlinsky called financial contacts with the YUKOS owner, which had enabled the party to exist without a care in the world, a major mistake.

"On the one hand, oil is not a weapon or a drug. We have never permitted YUKOS to push us around. Yes, we openly admitted that Khodorkovsky was our sponsor. When he was arrested, however, our voters exclaimed, "You call that a party?!" In fact, we were much too feeble, and our electorate was claimed by the parties that demanded the confiscation and division of everything," Yavlinsky complained. As a matter of fact, it would appear that this lack of firmness and resolution distresses Yavlinsky. YABLOKO's leader referred to this lack of firmness on five occasions. The refusal to merge with the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS) is the only decision Yavlinsky does not want to revise. Anatoly Chubais' party was sternly castigated in Yavlinsky's report, no less sternly in fact that Vladimir Putin himself with whom the party "should have been firmer" too. Yavlinsky called the Union of Right-Wing Forces a "corporate-criminal structure". At the same time, the party leader regularly preached the thesis of "a broad democratic coalition" and a common list for the next Duma elections.

This correspondent asked Yavlinsky in the interval on what was meant by democratic structures.

"We are prepared to unite with everybody - with the right wing and with social democrats, provided that they are not followers of Lenin and Stalin or represent the corporate-criminal structure," Yavlinsky replied. Asked to be more specific, he merely smiled and said that there were "lots of great men".

Leaflets signed "YABLOKO Democratic Platform" were scattered in the conference hall at the moment. The documents were signed by three delegates - bureau members from Moscow, Irkutsk, and Petrozavodsk. The dissenters pronounced the establishment of a democratic platform in the YABLOKO and opposition to the party leadership. "The era when Yavlinsky alone could persuade enough Russians to vote for the YABLOKO is over. There is no team of
prominent men. Everybody who is a potential leader and may therefore become a rival is forced to leave the party," the leaflets stated.

According to the dissenters, this was the first time when the party failed to pass the 5% barrier, the first time when members of the YABLOKO presidium failed in single-mandate districts
despite the administrative resources they wielded, the first time when the party did not participate in the presidential elections and local elections in major regions of the country.

Asked to comment, YABLOKO's leader said in a composed manner that the voting on the leadership would resolve everything. It transpired later that day that one Yuri Kuznetsov from the Sverdlovsk region had polled 25% votes for the first time in the history of the party.


See also:

the 12th congress of YABLOKO

Izvestia, p. 3, July 6, 2004

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