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Yurgens Dismisses Russian Popular Front as PR Move

MOSCOW. July 30 (Interfax) - Igor Yurgens, head of Russia's Institute of Contemporary Development (INSOR), in a radio program on Saturday, expressed skepticism about the Russian Popular Front, an emergent broad public association based on an initiative by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"I think it's a public relations move before the elections. After that we simply won't see, hear or know what it was they were trying to come up with," Yurgens told the Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio.

Moreover, he argued that the Front is a potential obstacle to many necessary economic reforms.

"If Putin stays within the Russian Popular Front, all economic programs that intelligent people are writing will be smashed against the cliffs of this front. Because the trade unions, the women's organizations and the agrarians will say no - no to amendments to the Labor Code, no on all other important issues. This would be quite difficult to fight," Yurgens said.

In talking about next year's presidential election, Yurgens said: "If some bright independent figure came forward, such as (well-known anti-corruption activist blogger Alexei) Navalny, I'd be glad, this would impart dynamism to this entire procedure. It would be a very correct step in that direction."

Navalny is "a man with perfectly structured views and is absolutely ready to try himself out," Yurgens said.

Such a candidate's possible defeat in the election would nevertheless be a good start, Yurgens argued. "That's how warming up always works."

"However, if the ruling tandem puts forward a new candidate for president, say (Moscow Mayor Sergei) Sobyanin, (First Deputy Prime Minister Igor) Shuvalov or (Russian Railways chief) Yakunin, it will be a political figure that is no novelty for the population. If they together think up such a candidate, support for this decision will be no different in extent to the support for the tandem," Yurgens said.

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