Some members of Russia’s ever-fractured democratic movement are making yet another attempt to put together a broad democratic coalition. This move, if successful, could provoke an open split within the Union of Right-Wing Forces (SPS), the coalition led by former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko which also includes such notables as United Energy Systems chief Anatoly Chubais, former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar.
Yesterday, the leaders of four groups belonging to the SPS signed an appeal calling on representatives of the SPS, Yabloko and the Fatherland-All Russia coalition (OVR) to convene a “round table” discussion concerning a broad democratic coalition. They also called on OVR, SPS and Yabloko to coordinate their activities in the State Duma. Grigory Yavlinsky heads Yabloko, while Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov lead OVR. The appeal was signed by Konstantin Titov (governor of Samara and head of the Russian Party of Social Democrats), Marina Salye (head of the Free Democrats of Russia), Yuri Chernichenko (head of the Peasant’s Party), and Lev Ponomarev (co-chairman of the Democratic Russia movement) (Russian agencies, April 10). Last week, Titov, who ran as a candidate in last month’s presidential election, stepped down as Samara’s governor, citing his poor showing there in the presidential vote. Titov came in third in Samara, behind President-elect Vladimir Putin and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov (Russian agencies, April 4).
The appeal’s signatories declared that protecting the principles of freedom and democracy is possible today only if all democratic forces pool their efforts. They also referred approvingly to a similar appeal issued last week and signed by a number of prominent glasnost-era democratic activists, including the historian Yuri Afanasyev and Obshchaya gazeta editor Yegor Yakovlev. This appeal called for a coalition based on support for civil liberties, rule of law, press freedom and liberal economics. Other signatories included Sergei Filatov, who was Kremlin chief of staff in the early 1990s, and Yevgeny Savostyanov, the former state security official who was a candidate in the last presidential race before bowing out and throwing his support behind Grigory Yavlinsky. Last week, in response to the appeal by Afanasyev, Yakovlev and Co., Yavlinsky came out in support of a broad democratic coalition and stressed that his party, Yabloko, would not claim “sole leadership” of such a grouping. Yavlinsky said that he had discussed the idea with some members of the SPS who were ready to join a coalition (Russian agencies, April 4).
…WHICH ALSO MEANS AN ANTI-PUTIN COALITION.