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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yabloko Skirts Yeltsin Endorsement

Liberal economist Grigory Yavlinsky on Monday called on President Boris Yeltsin to tell voters what he stands for, saying that only in this way could he ensure victory in the second round of Russia's presidential election July 3.


The first-round vote, Yavlinsky said, "was not a referendum on Yeltsin's policies. The vote was driven by a different concern -- what danger lay behind [Communist Party candidate Gennady] Zyuganov. So the voters today are not waiting for Yeltsin to explain to them what has happened, but rather to explain clearly and intelligibly what will happen after the election."


Although Yavlinsky said his party, Yabloko, would "never and under no circumstances" support Zyuganov in the second round, he still refused openly to endorse the president, saying that much would depend on Yeltsin's plans for his second term in office.


Yabloko held its fourth congress over the weekend, and in a straw poll 57 percent of the 300-odd delegates voted against both Yeltsin and Zyuganov, while 41 percent voted for Yeltsin. Yavlinsky acknowledged that a vote against both candidates would help Zyuganov, but added that he understands such a choice.


The congress sent an open letter to Yeltsin demanding answers to five questions about his plans for a second term. The appeal covered the following areas:


?changes in the Russian constitution to achieve a balance of powers in the government;


?development of democratic processes in Russia's regions;


?real steps to end the war in Chechnya;


?the makeup of Yeltsin's next cabinet and his major policy goals; and


?replacements for the ousted "Party of War" atop Russia's "power ministries."


Yavlinsky's refusal categorically to endorse the president has angered many democrats. Sergei Belyayev, head of the Our Home Is Russia faction in the State Duma, told Interfax on Friday that Yavlinsky was "detached from his electorate" and charged him with "political childishness."


"Under these circumstances, Yavlinsky's unrealistic position at this critical moment in Russian history may leave his movement's command with no troops," Belyayev said.


Yavlinsky, however, is unlikely to change his stance. "He would only take this step if the polls, or some dramatic events before the second round, indicated that the president's hopes for a second term were under serious threat," said Vladimir Berezovsky, director of the Center for Current Studies in Russian Politics.


According to a poll released over the weekend by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, 53 percent of respondents would back Yeltsin in the second round, against 34 percent for Zyuganov.


More likely, Berezovsky said, Yavlinsky would just repeat his calls for Russians to vote "correctly" -- which is understood as a vote for Yeltsin.


Anna Andreyenkova, deputy director of the Institute for Comparative Social Research, or CESSI, said Yavlinsky's endorsement would not change many voters' minds in any case.


"People voted for Yavlinsky, as they did for a good many other candidates, more because of his personal image than for his program, and therefore his position on this or that question, including whom they should vote for, will not have significant influence on their choice," Andreyenkova said.


Yavlinsky received 5.5 million votes in the first round -- just over 7 percent of the total. According to a CESSI poll conducted days before the election, 57 percent of those who intended to vote for Yavlinsky in the first round would back Yeltsin in the second. This would add 3.1 million votes to Yeltsin's total.


Only 6 percent of Yavlinsky voters said they would vote for Zyuganov in the second round, while 27 percent would vote "against all."