Famed journalist joins Yabloko

Social liberal party Yabloko is back in the news again with famous journalist Dmitry Muratov joining its ranks ahead of the upcoming State Duma elections – but experts say this will not translate into actual seats in the Duma.

At a party meeting on Saturday, Yabloko finalized its list of Duma candidates and approved its election program.

Grigory Yavlinsky, former party leader, will head the list as Yabloko’s main candidate at the December Duma elections. Second on the list is current leader Sergei Mitrokhin, while Alexei Yablokov of the Greens fraction rounds out the list of top three candidates.

While the party has nominated Yavlinsky as its candidate for the presidential elections in 2012, the most interesting addition to their roster is actually Dmitry Muratov – editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, a publication famous for its investigative coverage in the socio-political sphere. Four Novaya Gazeta journalists, including Anna Politkovskaya, were murdered in the previous decade.

Sergei Mitrokhin told The Moscow News that in contrast with other parties, Yabloko is not out to recruit celebs, but “normal, honest people.”

“Most of them are journalists, like Dmitry Muratov of Novaya Gazeta and Yulia Kalinina, a journalist at Moskovsky Komsomolets,” Mitrokhin said.

Muratov, however, is not at the top of the party list so it is very unlikely he will represent Yabloko in the Duma if the party gets a big enough share of the vote to gain seats.

Mitrokhin, who has headed Yabloko since 2008, said the party aims to capture between 10 and 12 percent of votes at the Duma elections. According to Mitrokhin, Yabloko’s political program is very ambitious, and divided into three main categories – economic, social and environmental.


When it comes to the economy, Yabloko is out to improve the housing situation in Russia and introduce some left-leaning, populist measures, like taxing big business.

“Our election platform is antioligarchy,” Mitrokhin said. “It’s aimed at solving Russia’s biggest problem – getting the government to separate itself from business.”

Mitrokhin says the best way to compensate the losses Russians faced in the 1990s is to tax the oligarchs and their businesses.

Mitrokhin said the Federal Reserve Fund must benefit Russians.

“We want to pay for infrastructure… with money from the Fund, there is no need to buy foreign bonds anymore,” Mitrokhin said.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported on Monday that the party also wants to limit presidential power as one of its main political goals. Mitrokhin, however, denied this.

“This is definitely wrong; we do not want to change the constitution,” he said.

Limited influence

Experts, however, say it is very unlikely Yabloko will actually gain seats in the Duma.

“Yabloko will not get 7 percent or even 5 percent of votes at the elections in December, and therefore it will not be in the State Duma for the next term,” Sergei Markov, a United Russia deputy said.

However, Markov conceded that Yabloko is likely to remain as a political and civil force.

“They have a firm core of supporters and a clear ideology,” Markov said.

Just how much influence Yabloko wields today remains debatable – Russian pundits routinely claim that the party is past its prime, and is unlikely to regain influence.

In this light, the new presence of celebrated journalists such as Dmitry Muratov is seen by many as a purely cosmetic move.

“The party is chasing after leftwing voters,” Just Cause politician Boris Titov told Vedomosti following Saturday’s meeting.

The former head of Yabloko’s youth wing, Ilya Yashin, was also critical of new developments within the party.

“The party has gotten rid of many bright people,” Yashin told Vedomosti. “This is what led them to have such an unattractive [Duma] candidate list.

Read other articles of the print issue “The Moscow News #70”

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