Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EDITORIAL: Yavlinsky (And Titov) Look Best

What was it that finally convinced the Union of Right-Wing Forces - those self-styled leading liberals - to formally endorse Vladimir Putin for president?

Perhaps it was Putin's refusal to address well-documented accounts of atrocities by Russian soldiers against Russian civilians. Or his recent suggestion that the protection of the law extends only to proven patriots. Or his touching insistence on a presumption of innocence for Kremlin officials wanted for money-laundering.

Then again, it's more likely this has been just another demonstration that the Union of Right-Wing Forces is led by a collection of careerists and sell-outs.

Yes, there are some fine people in the back-benches of SPS. But they are performing a disservice, both to themselves and to their nation, by sticking with the party of Sergei Kiriyenko and Anatoly Chubais.

Instead, citizens who want to see the nation develop into a strong, democratic and capitalist economy ought to be looking closely at two other presidential candidates: Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky and Samara Governor Konstantin Titov.

Titov and Yavlinsky have been lonely voices of cool reason. Both have spoken out for civil liberties and a market economy, and against the never-ending three minutes of hate directed at Chechnya.

Titov in particular deserves kudos for being the first major politician to stand up to the wave of war hysteria and urging a cooler assessment of how Chechnya ought to be handled. We also appreciate his brave opposition to proposals to scrap elections for governors, and his advocacy of a dramatic cut in the bloated government apparatus.

Though we like both of these politicians, if we had to choose we would pick Yavlinsky. Over the past 10 years Yabloko has proven itself to be both liberal and principled - the two missing commodities in politics here.

Yavlinsky from the start supported an anti-terrorist operation in Chechnya, and then, in response to wildly escalating civilian casualties, called for a rethink. His criticism has been consistently careful and patriotic.

Yavlinsky's rivals complain that he has never done anything, that he does not compromise, and so on. We would say that refusing to compromise with a corrupt system should be honored, not disdained. And those who believe Yabloko has never done anything ought to reexamine this party's impressive legislative record, and their valuable work setting in order the finances of the St. Petersburg city government - finances left a mess by the outgoing administration of Putin and Anatoly Sobchak, by the way.

- Matt Bivens