In the wake of Galina Starovoitova’s murder, those who
called themselves her friends immediately sought to profit
from her death. A good example of this was the call by
Anatjly Chubais, Viktor Chernomyrdin and other prominent
has-beens for “democrats” to unite in Starovoitova’s honor.
Chubais cunningly plays upon a host of myths here. One
is that Russia’s democrats are divided over petty matters
of ego and trivia. Another – perhaps the most enduring
– is that Chubais or Chernomyrdin were ever really democrats.
The main division between Russia’s liberals is the one
that divides Grigory Yavlinsky and the Yabloko party from
everyone else. Yabloko is the nation’s only real opposition;
rather than accept symbolic posts in flawed and corrupt
governments, Yabloko have steadfastly stuck to their principles.
By contrast, Chubais and Chernomyrdin served uncomplainingly
for years in corrupt governments, and each has been tarred
by allegations of personal corruption. Both oversaw rigged
privatizations that – as Starovoitova notes in a posthumously
published interview in this week’s Argumenty i Fakty –
created a criminalized oligarchy.
Try as they might, those in the so-called “Party of Power”
– Chernomyrdin’s Our Home Is Russia, Chubais’s Russia’s
Democratic Choice and the other elites du jour who play
musical chairs at the Kremlin – have never been able to
coopt Yabloko or silence its incisive criticism.
Frustrated, they have instead sought to smear Yabloko,
and in particular Yavlinsky. We are told Yavlinsky is
arrogant; that he simply can’t get along with the other
liberals; that he only knows how to complain, not to take
responsibility. Why can’t he be more like the Communists
and the LDPR – carping publicly, but in the end voting
as the Kremlin says?
Now Starovoitova is dead, and Chubais has called “Grisha”
to put aside his ego for the good of the nation. But why
should the nation’s only principled party – an organization
whose moral authority grows with each passing year – associate
with a corrupte, discredited collection of failures?
Chubais always knew Yavlinsky would never agree. That
was the point. This was never about “uniting the democrats”,
but once again trying subtly to blacken Yavlinsky’s name.
His role was to be that of the spoilsport who robs the
nation of a chance to give a “meaning” to Starovoitova’s
But there is no meaning there. There is only the tragedy
of a nation run into the ground by those now beating their
chests and demanding they again be put in charge – in
the name of a woman killed because they casually allowed
crime and corruption to flourish.