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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: SPS Looking Weaker Next To Yabloko

Boris Nemtsov declared a victory Wednesday after the State Duma installed him and Yabloko's Vladimir Lukin as deputy speakers. He called it a defeat for the Communists, who had helped block the nominations. "Centrist and center-right factions in the chamber have a chance in the near future to work constructively, without the Communists, on a range of key laws for our country - land and tax codes, passing a responsible and honest budget," Reuters quoted Nemtsov as saying.

That would certainly be nice. Well-regulated land sales and tax reform are long overdue.

But the appointment of Nemtsov and Lukin to these minor posts isn't much of a victory. It does not reverse the far-more-eloquent previous snub the Duma offered by initially denying them these posts - which, by tradition, are their due, as every major Duma party is supposed to have one of the deputy speaker's chairs.

And the very notion that the Communists are the main obstacle to reform is such a worn-out fallacy that it's hard to believe someone as supposedly savvy as Nemtsov could still be flogging this flimsy excuse for Russia's stagnation. Reform stalled not so much because of truculent Communists, but because the Kremlin's interest in real reform - as opposed to sweet-talking the IMF - was less than overwhelming.

As dysfunctional as the Communists can be, they were not the ones who created the current system of crony capitalism through rigged privatizations. It was the Kremlin, under Boris Yeltsin and Anatoly Chubais. Now, some of the same moguls created under Yeltsin appear to have secured a friendly successor in the person of acting President Vladimir Putin.

Given that, the bargain struck by the ostensibly liberal Union of Right Forces with the Kremlin seems like less and less of a good deal. The Union of Right Forces supports the Kremlin through a cooperation deal struck with the Unity party. And gets what in return? A vague promise to take up, but not necessarily support, several reform bills.

By comparison, the Yabloko party seems to have done better by not supporting the Kremlin. They're out of power, yes, but they haven't clouded what it is they stand for. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky has kept open the possibility of making a respectable third-place run for president. If things go to a second round, that would put him in a kingmaker's position, like that of Alexander Lebed in 1996.

The Union of Right Forces, however, seems to have little chance to have any real influence at all.

- Dave McHugh