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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yavlinsky Urges Yeltsin to Step Aside

Yabloko presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky said Thursday that President Boris Yeltsin should consider withdrawing his candidacy to prevent a Communist victory in June's election.

While allowing for the "possibility" that Yeltsin could win in a second round of voting, Yavlinsky said, "the chances for Yeltsin winning in a second round are extremely insignificant."

Yavlinsky said Yeltsin "should think over" the option of withdrawing his candidacy, adding that if that happened, "we would win, for sure -- that's 100 percent certain, without any doubts."

Recent polls have indicated Yavlinsky is the only candidate who could beat Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov in a second round of voting.

Yavlinsky said he has already submitted to the Central Election Commission the signatures required to register his candidacy. Each candidate must submit at least 1 million signatures.

"I think that in four or five days I will be granted the right to start an official campaign," he said. "At that point, I will begin presenting to you my program, which is directed at showing Russian society the basic problems it faces, and the basic direction of the solutions to these problems."

The deadline for registration of candidates is Tuesday.

Former general Alexander Lebed's campaign submitted 1.9 million signatures to the CEC on Thursday, while eye surgeon Svyatoslav Fyodorov's supporters handed over more than 1.7 million, Interfax reported.

On the question of uniting Russia's fractious democratic parties and movements, Yavlinsky said, "There must be maximum concentration on one candidate for victory."

He cited a recently formed committee supporting his candidacy, which includes human rights activists Sergei Kovalyov and Yelena Bonner, and former social security minister Ella Pamfilova. The committee will meet in a week, Yavlinsky said, and will include new supporters from Russia's democratic camp.

Other leading democratic activists have decided to back Yeltsin.

Yavlinsky said he and his supporters have created 45 regional and 18 branch headquarters, and that "almost all the regional organizations of all the democratic parties," including those of Yegor Gaidar's Democratic Russia's Choice, helped collect signatures backing him.

Yavlinsky also said his talks with Lebed and Fyodorov on creating a coalition were going "successfully."

He criticized the election choices, saying Russian voters should not be forced to pick among relative evils.

"At the moment, the whole structure of the whole presidential election is formed in such a way that there are two candidates -- Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin and Communist Party leader Zyuganov," he said.

A majority of Russians, he said, want neither the status quo nor a "return to some kind of chimera, which already cost our country dearly."

He also took aim at the economic policies of the Yeltsin government, which have brought about "stagnation." However, he called the current policy of Russia's Central Bank "brilliant."

He identified as the key questions the war in Chechnya, the current economic situation, privatization, Russia's borders, the armed forces, the country's "demographic situation," integration with the CIS states, "reorganization of the state apparatus" and crime.

He said Zyuganov represents a worrying mixture of communism, "very strong nationalism" and Russian Orthodoxy, which he called a "new ideology of the fundamentalist type."

The Yabloko leader called for "lengthy, open, principled debates on key questions," but said he doubted the top two contenders would agree to participate.

and repeated his frequent warning that Russia is heading toward becoming an "oligarchic monopoly and a criminal state."

Yavlinsky charged that "all the media, especially television, are monopolized by supporters of the current authorities."