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City news, 19.03.2010 17:52

Local Yabloko Members Oppose Party Leadership

Local Yabloko Members Oppose Party Leadership An interparty struggle between the St. Petersburg branch of Yabloko and the democratic party’s leadership in Moscow went public this week.

Local members quit the Solidarity democratic movement in order to comply with a party congress resolution obliging them to leave all political movements, coalitions and groups other than Yabloko, but issued an unusual statement criticizing the party’s leadership on Tuesday.

Resolution No. 248 “On Double Membership,” passed by a Yabloko congress held in Moscow in December, requires members to announce their departure from other groups “publicly, on the party’s web site” within three months or face expulsion from Yabloko. The resolution was criticized as being approved on orders from the Kremlin to weaken the opposition.

In Tuesday’s statement, 35 Yabloko members, mostly from the St. Petersburg branch – including chairman Maxim Reznik and deputy chairman Alexander Shurshev – complied with the resolution, but criticized it as “harmful and damaging not only to our party, but to the whole democratic movement in Russia.”

Claiming that the party’s conservative leadership was “deliberately forcing us out of Yabloko,” the protesters said that the interparty reformative opposition would continue to struggle against the party’s current leadership and its political line and cooperate with the other democrats.

The statement laid responsibility for the resolution with Grigory Yavlinsky, Yabloko’s former chairman, whom the statement described as “effectively the party’s leader,” along with its official chairman Sergei Mitrokhin and deputy chairman Sergei Ivanenko. The authors of the statement criticized the Yabloko leaders’ unwillingness to take part in Dissenters’ Marches, their “aggressive refusal” to back Solidarity leader Boris Nemtsov at the Sochi mayoral elections last year and their support of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, the leader of the ruling United Russia party in Moscow.

“Having chosen to conserve the party under [the country’s current] authoritarian rule (in the hope of living to see better days,) these colleagues of ours, while imitating and misappropriating the status of the ‘only united democrats,’ in reality, time after time torpedo any attempts at genuine consolidation by democrats, activists and voters in this country,” the statement read.

Speaking by phone on Thursday, Yabloko chairman Mitrokhin welcomed the fact that the party members had submitted to the resolution and dismissed speculation that the resolution had been instigated by the Kremlin as “the idle talk of home-grown political analysts.”

“You can’t sit on the fence all the time, or be the bridegroom at every wedding,” he said, adding that Yabloko does not refuse to cooperate with the other democratic organizations.

“I understand their emotions, I understand that they are voicing their resentment. I react to it with understanding and welcome their criticism. Ours is a democratic party.

“But it’s unacceptable if you are a member of our political organization and of some other organization at the same time, with goals that are perhaps similar but still different. I think it’s harmful for those who choose to sit on the fence. The fence could fall down and they could hurt themselves.”

Olga Kurnosova, a member of the Solidarity leadership, said that local members of Yabloko belonged to Solidarity as individuals, rather than as part of a political party. She described the resolution as “destructive” and Kremlin-initiated.

“I am almost positive that after Solidarity took part in elections, when Solidarity started to come in second regularly after United Russia, it simply sent them [the Kremlin] into a panic,” Kurnosova said by phone Thursday.

“It doesn’t fit in with [the Kremlin’s chief ideologist Vladislav] Surkov’s scenario at all. That’s why the demarche aimed at weakening Solidarity was staged, but it won’t work. We’ll keep on working together, and no Mitrokhin will be able to forbid us from cooperating in St. Petersburg.”

News source: The St. Petersburg Times

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