Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 86

Oksana Dmitrieva has given her first interview since being expelled from the Yabloko movement for accepting the post of minister of labor and social security in the new Russian government headed by Sergei Kirienko. Yabloko consistently opposed Kirienko’s candidacy for prime minister and issued a statement over the weekend condemning Dmitrieva’s acceptance of the new job on the grounds that Kirienko’s government is virtually identical to that of Viktor Chernomyrdin which it has replaced.

Dmitrieva told Russian Television last night that she had disagreed from the beginning to Yabloko’s decision to oppose Kirienko’s nomination. Finding herself in a minority of one, she said she obeyed orders and, like the rest of the faction, abstained from voting on April 24, when Kirienko was finally approved. Dmitrieva said she was recommended for her new job not by Yabloko, who proposed no one, but by Oleg Sysuev, who held the post of minister of labor in Chernomyrdin’s government and is now deputy premier with responsibility for social welfare. (RTR, May 4)

The interviewer wanted to know whether Mikhail Zadornov (of Yabloko)’s appointment as finance minister at the end of last year, plus Dmitrieva’s recent appointment, was a Kremlin tactic aimed at weakening Yabloko by attracting its best brains to work in the government. Dmitrieva said she accepted the post because she believed that as a minister she could do something to improve the life of ordinary people. Yabloko has already said that it does not believe the Kirienko government can achieve anything useful.