January 27, 2003
YAVLINSKY TO GO HIS OWN WAY
Sponsors have failed to reconcile two right-wing parties
Author: Bulat Stolyarov, Vitaly Ivanov
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
ON BEHALF OF YABLOKO, GRIGORY YAVLINSKY HAS REFUSED AN ALLIANCE WITH
THE UNION OF THE RIGHT FORCES. THERE WILL BE NO COMBINED LIST OF
CANDIDATES FROM THE TWO RIGHT-WING PARTIES. EVEN ANATOLY CHUBAIS'
PROMISE TO QUIT THE URF FOR THE SAKE OF SECURING YAVLINSKY'S AGREEMENT
FAILED TO PERSUADE YAVLINSKY.
Yabloko sponsors have failed to persuade Grigory Yavlinsky that
his party and the Union of Right Forces (URF) should combine their
candidate lists for the parliamentary elections. The Yabloko leader
has refused to take second place on the electoral list, as he was
invited to do, along with being the single right-wing presidential
candidate in 2004 elections; even despite Anatoly Chubais' promise to
quit the URF for the sake of securing Yavlinsky's agreement.
According to the National Public Opinion Research Center
(VTsIOM), 8% of respondents were prepared to support Yabloko in
October 2002, 9% in November and 7% in December. The URF's popularity
rating was steadily declining: 11% in October, 10% in November and 5%
URF leader Boris Nemtsov described the point of the URF's offer
to Yavlinsky: "Since the business community - almost all of the
oligarchs - who support both parties are in favor of unification [of
the URF and Yabloko] and formation of a real third force in the
parliament, we sent business leaders to negotiate with Yavlinsky." In
Nemtsov's words, the leader of Yabloko was offered second place on the
party's electoral list, with the first position being occupied by
Nemtsov, and the third by Irina Khakamada. Moreover, the URF said it
would give Yavlinsky the right to be the "single democratic candidate"
in the presidential elections of 2004, and accept his condition of
Anatoly Chubais' departure from the URF.
"For two weeks before leaving for Davos, two negotiators were
persuading him [Yavlinsky] to agree to a unified list, but in vain,"
says Nemtsov, who thinks that such a coalition could get a hundred
seats in the Duma. In his words, the business leaders were unable to
speak from a position of strength - quarreling with a friendly party
before the elections was not part of their plans.
According to a source from Russian Joint Energy Systems (RJES)
who asked to remain anonymous, one of those who negotiated with
Yavlinsky was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, CEO and co-owner of YUKOS. Our
RJES source said: "Since almost all of the renowned oligarchs are
sponsoring the URF, and Yabloko is being financed by Khodorkovsky
alone, we decided to ask the investor to conduct negotiations.
Moreover, Misha [Khodorkovsky] isn't glad that the two parties which
he is sponsoring are at war, which is destroying the point of his
Two co-owners of YUKOS confirmed to us that they are financing
Yabloko, having specified that the matter concerns their own money.
This is how First Deputy Chairman of Yabloko Sergei Ivanenko replied
to that: "If they confirm this information, we do so as well."
Leonid Nevzlin, co-owner of YUKOS and senator, says: "In view of
our wish to create a strong democratic coalition, we don't think
exerting pressure on both parties is possible." In his words, "they
[the parties] must at least agree to stop the PR-war in the media" and
seek extra votes "not at the expense of one another, but at the
expense of non-democratic movements."
As a source in RJES management explains, "the URF could gain
votes at the expense of United Russia, whereas Yabloko would be better
off moving to the left, in the direction of the communists, especially
since they are quite successful with that."
In the opinion of Gleb Pavlovsky, president of the Effective
Policy Foundation, the oil tycoons were reasonable not to give
Yavlinsky an ultimatum - either you merge with the URF or you'll
remain without financial support. "If Khodorkovsky had refused [to
finance Yabloko], Yavlinsky would easily find money in the free
political market," Pavlovsky says.
Ivanenko of the Yabloko party, who rules out the possibility of a
combined electoral list, asserts that the parties are efficiently
cooperating even without that, and have already coordinated the
nomination of their candidates in 50 electoral districts. (Translated by Andrei Ryabochkin )