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The outcome of the dispute between Yavlinsky and Chubais was decided before it began.
ByYegor Yakovlev
Obschaya Gazeta, No 48
December 2, 1999

I can bet in this duel won the second: Evgeni Kiselyov, who recently brought Grigory Yavlinsky and Anatoli Chubais to the ring of the Glas Naroda programme. Ignoring the intentions of opponents to increase the tension of the struggle, Kiselyov held a discussion at a level, which enabled the viewers to independently make up their minds.

When Sergei Kovalyov (Ed. famous Russian human rights defender) appeared on screen and I heard the voice of a man woken up somewhere in Perm, I realised that I had probably never seen such a brilliant usage of the possibilities of television. Two things made me take up my pen and write this article, despite the fact that a great deal had already been written and said on this programme.

Chubais called Yavlinsky a "traitor" several times, as he referred to the article "Six Conditions for Maskhadov" in "Obschaya Gazeta". I was struck by the acuteness of the opponents' accusations. In the duel the enemies forgot about rapiers or pistols and instead took pitchforks and shafts.

Each word belongs to a time, when it was used most frequently, and has its requirements. The word "traitor" brings us back to the Great Patriotic War (Ed. the name of The Second World War for Russia) and, certainly, to Stalin's trials. This word led Sergei Kovalyov to remember his previous experiences that he would not wish anyone to undergo.

Chubais' choice of such a word made Sergei Kovalyov remind him that all the last three prime ministers came from the security services. In addition developments are quite symptomatic: we consider imperialism as an external enemy and dissidents as the enemy from within.

Yavlinsky defined all of Chubais' statements as an extreme form of bolshevism, which is also true: Bolsheviks could not survive without "treachery", as pensioners and pioneers were suspected of betrayal.

Yavlinsky simply permitted himself to speak out: he called for a suspension of a mass attack, a cessation of total bombings and humiliation of the refugees, as all these measures have merely served to increase the number of people ready to turn their weapons against us.

As you understand, Yavlinsky cannot change military orders. So why should he put to the wall for a proposal? Is this all the depth of the democratic reservoir of Chubais? Not only this. Maybe the strongest and most dangerous trait of Chubais' character came out here. He devotes himself totally to his goals and treats anyone standing in his way as a traitor. A traitor towards Chubais, his ambitions and his aims.

Today he has waged his future on Putin, but he understands full well that the latter will not be able to survive at the top without a victory in Chechnya. Incidentally, no one has yet determined what total victory implies? How many miles of ploughed and burnt-out land without a sign of a living human being should be demonstrated as confirmation of victory?

With respect to the astonishing acuteness of the discussion, this is unusual for public debates in Russia. I see here a continuation of a long-standing process that has affected public morals. Tonnes of compromising materials, a video with the Public Prosecutor General and prostitutes and, finally, the Prime Minister's wish to "piss all over the bandits, shooting them in the toilets " - what more?

By the way, it is quite characteristic that Chubais considered that he had been hurt, when Yavlinsky permitted himself to make unpleasant remarks about Chubais. Finally, proud of his cold-blooded reaction, Chubais remarked: "I don't call you a liar, villain, or scoundrel - we are having a polite, intelligent discussion."

Consequently, Anatoly Chubais, while accepting what he said to Yavlinsky, continued to define his area as the world of the intelligentsia. Surely this is ridiculous?

The outcome of the dispute was virtually decided before it began. Both participants have been at the top of the political elite for the past decade. And the results of Russian political history are considerably more revealing than all the speeches of the opponents and their "home-baked" questions and answers.

Yavlinsky wanted to ascertain the price of the responsibility assumed by Chubais and his colleagues. It is known. Failing in economic reforms and driving the country into poverty, Chubais and his colleagues have made the danger of a communist revival more real. In trying to avoid it, they bet on an incapable president, packing their consciences into a box from a copy-machine (Ed. allusion to a well-known scandal with the box where the honorarium for Chubais' presidential campaign organisation was virtually removed from the Russian White House).

It makes no sense to explain now where it has driven us today.

Elena Bonner (Ed. Academician Sakharov's widow) considers that all the events in Chechnya constitute genocide. Yavlinsky advocates a suspension of the wide-ranging military operations there. But Chubais thinks that the war is against terrorists, rather than with the Chechenian people.

Incidentally, how is he going to differentiate them from the people? Line them up and expect them to split into two files bandits - on the right and civilians - left. However, his conscience did not persuade Anatoli Chubais to resign as Deputy Prime during the tragedy in Grozny. So he will clearly manage to control any other stirrings of his conscience.

Frequently when two people argue, I offer my backing to a third party: Anatoli Pristavkin, (Ed. writer and Chairman of the Pardon Commission with the President of the RF), who said: "It is disgraceful that discussions concern anything whatsoever, other than the sufferings of the people."

ei Stepashin on Grigory Yavlinsky's proposals