January 29, 2003
YABLOKO AND UNION OF RIGHT FORCES WILL NOT UNITE
Yabloko leaders do not want an alliance with the Union of Right Forces
Author: Anastasia Matveeva
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
YABLOKO LEADERS GRIGORY YAVLINSKY AND SERGEI IVANENKO HAVE WRITTEN TO LEADERS OF THE UNION OF RIGHT FORCES, STRESSING THAT A MERGER OF THE TWO PARTIES IS IMPOSSIBLE. REPRESENTATIVES OF THE URF WILL MAKE NO FURTHER ATTEMPTS TO UNITE WITH YABLOKO.
As we reported earlier, an alliance between the Union of Right Forces (URF) and Yabloko is unlikely to happen. On January 28, Yabloko leaders Grigory Yavlinsky and Sergei Ivanenko wrote to URF leaders Boris Nemtsov and Irina Khakamada, saying the URF's proposals were unacceptable for Yabloko. The long-awaited meeting of the leaders of the two parties, scheduled for Wednesday, will not take place. Representatives of the URF say that from now on, no further attempts to merge with Yabloko will ever be made.
URF leader Boris Nemtsov has refused to comment on the situation. His Press Secretary Lilia Dubovaya has confirmed that the meeting will not take place. According to her, "a historic opportunity to found a strong democratic party has been lost due to Yavlinsky and his ambitions. From now on, the URF will spare no efforts to win the elections as an independent party." Dubovaya stressed that the idea of a merger was not merely propaganda for Nemtsov, and he agreed to this initiative despite protests from many members of his faction. For instance, Nikolai Travkin, a former member of Yabloko, warned him about the futility of any attempts to reach agreement with Yavlinsky. Dubovaya also noted that Yavlinsky did not even make a personal telephone call to the URF. "The letter was published in the press. We consider this unbecoming," Dubovaya stressed.
Ivanneko told us: "I don't think we've said anything principally new. There is no breach of relations, since we haven't 'registered a marriage'."
Ivanenko believes that the URF is only curious about the question of who will be the first and the second on the electoral list. Meanwhile, there is "broad scope for joint activities, e.g. cooperation in single-mandate electoral districts and in legislative activities." But the URF is really offended now, and questions even this form of cooperation. However, URF members understand that the two parties will need a "non-aggression pact" in any case.
The URF and Yabloko are at war even on the polling field. Yabloko believes that the results of opinion polls as reported by the URF press service often do not reflect the actual situation.
A source in the Yabloko press service told us: "Nemtsov and Khakamada have often announced that if the two parties merged, we could get 15-20% of the vote. Meanwhile, VTsIOM polls indicate that this figure is only about 9.4%."
Yabloko has already submitted a corresponding inquiry to the VTsIOM polling agency, and the pollsters are said to be planning an announcement about the URF's incorrect interpretations of their data.
Our URF source said: "Business leaders are shocked by Yavlinsky's disagreeability. Why is Yavlinsky so arrogant? Is it because the president has promised him a chance to show off on the first and second TV channels? But they will show only what is needed there, and everything else will be cut out."
Political analysts believe that the URF and Yabloko never had a chance of compling a combined electoral list for the federal election. Sergei Kolmakov, vice president of the Russian Parliamentarism Foundation, stressed that these are two different parties with different electorates. In his opinion, the merger would have helped the bloc increase its rating to some extent, but Yabloko would have lost its basic electorate, rural teachers and doctors, who "hate Gaidar and Chubais". Kolmakov says: "Both parties have been using the idea of a merger for some time in order to gain political points. But now it is becoming clear that Yabloko is a party focused on human rights, while the URF is a party supported by the middle class and closely connected with the oligarchic system."
(Translated by Kirill Frolov)