Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 91

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky has again strongly criticized the government of Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov for what he describes as its close links with the leftist opposition in the State Duma. During a meeting yesterday of Yabloko’s central council, Yavlinsky charged that Primakov has demonstrated his “unconditional closeness” to the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) faction in the Duma, referring to the fact that the Kremlin has made it quite clear–if not explicit–that it will hold the Primakov cabinet responsible should the Duma vote in favor of impeachment on May 13, when the lower house is expected to take up the matter. Yavlinsky said that Yabloko, which last year strongly backed Primakov to head the cabinet, has on more than one occasion since then asked the premier to reconsider his “one-sided attitude toward cooperation with the State Duma.” Yavlinsky said that this “unprincipled” closeness to the Duma’s leftist opposition was “not productive,” given that 70 percent of the electorate does not support the KPRF and its allies. Yavlinsky called on Primakov to “more accurately” assess the political situation in the country.

Yavlinsky also attacked the Primakov cabinet’s economic record, saying that the economic situation in the country was “absolutely stagnant,” similar to the Brezhnev era, and that high-level corruption has steadily worsened.

Despite his harsh criticism, Yavlinsky said that he still supports Primakov as prime minister and wants to find a way to work with Yeltsin, but that the cabinet’s “economic bloc” should be changed completely (Russian agencies, May 10). This would refer above all to First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, the KPRF economist in overall charge of economic policy, and Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Kulik, who is in charge of agrarian policy. According to some rumors, the Kremlin views Yavlinsky and Yabloko as potential replacements to run the government’s economic policy.

Rumors have been rife that Yeltsin is planning to fire Primakov and/or his team very soon. On May 9, however, an “informed source” from Primakov’s “inner circle” was quoted as saying that Yeltsin is not planning any changes in the cabinet in the near future, that “the president has certain grievances about the work of the cabinet of ministers in relation to pulling the country out of crisis” but that rumors of imminent firings are “obviously premature” (Russian agencies, May 9).

A recent survey carried out by the ROMIR polling agency found that Primakov leads among potential candidates in next year’s presidential elections. Primakov was picked by 17 percent of those surveyed, followed by KPRF leader Gennady Zyuganov (16.5 percent), Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov (11.9 percent) and Yavlinsky (10.8 percent) (Ren TV, May 8). Primakov’s continued high rating (in relative terms), along with the fact that he may be needed to help convince the Duma to pass tax and other laws which will meet the International Monetary Fund’s conditions that revenues be increased, may be in his favor.