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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Either He's Right, Or He's Bought

Those who dislike the Yabloko party -- ?°...?™? means apple in Russian - sometimes derisively refer to its members as "the fruit." Enemies of Our Home Is Russia, which came into being as the vehicle of natural-gas boss Viktor Chernomyrdin, dismiss that party as Our Home Is Gazprom. In that same tradition, ill-wishers of the Union of Right Forces, or ??"" ??†?-? ?®..., sometimes jeeringly label Sergei Kiriyenko & Co. the ??"" ???§†¶_-? ?®..., the Union of Sell-Out Forces.

Kiriyenko has now taken a risky and dubious step that will, in our view, determine whether his party deserves to be considered pravikh or prodazhnikh. If the Duma truly does immediately take up key economic legislation - first and foremost, laws to dramatically lower and simplify taxes on business activity - then Kiriyenko will be able to chalk up something of a rightist victory, one in the national interest. Otherwise, history will look back on his return to the Kremlin fold as the moment when the SPS definitively sold out.

A brief recap of events: The Kremlin's pet party, Unity, is not backing off an inch from last week's back-room alliance with the Communists, in which the two parties agreed to reinstall Gennady Seleznyov as speaker and divvy up control of Duma committees in a less-than-democratic fashion.

Perhaps the most odious result of this arrangement has been the decision of the Kremlin-Communist bloc to refuse to give a single Duma committee to Yabloko - and instead to favor the LDPR, which has an even smaller faction.

It would be hard to find a more eloquent statement of Kremlin-Communist priorities: The nomenklatura apparently find easily co-opted nationalists more pleasant to deal with than liberals of principle.

Kiriyenko's party at first shared the outrage of other smaller factions at this unorthodox and unfair carving up of the Duma. As well they should - it amounts to subverting the democratic will of the people. Acting President Vladimir Putin has been eloquent in insisting we must all respect the rights of the millions of Communist voters, even if nationally they are a minority; what about the millions of Yabloko and Fatherland-All Russia voters?

On Tuesday, however, SPS and Unity met with their creator, Putin, and Kiriyenko emerged to announce he was back on board.

What did SPS get in return? Two leading SPS members - Boris Nemtsov and Pavel Krasheninnikov - got good Duma jobs. And far more importantly, Kiriyenko says the SPS economic agenda will now be immediately brought to legislative life. Let's hope he's right - and not merely for sale.

- Matt Bivens