Boris Nemtsov shatters Union of Right Forces

Of late, Russia’s liberal parties have been shaken by a series of scandals. A split in the liberal Yabloko party, linked to the departure of Vyachslav Igrunov, one of the party’s ideologists, is still ringing in everybody’s ears. Now, it is time for the Union of Right Forces to have problems. Viktor Pokhmelkin, the party leader and Boris Nemtsov’s deputy, has headed the Fronde. In Mr. Pokhmelkin’s view, the URF is betraying its ideals of liberalism, on which it was nurtured. In particular, this made itself felt recently, at he time of the approving in the 2nd reading of the country’s 2002 budget. Then, three Duma deputies of the URF faction, Messrs.

Golovlyov, Yushenkov, and Pokhmelkin, proposed to take away 10bn Rbs from the budget’s “State Management” item in order to slash the sway of the bureaucrats and pass it over to culture and education, public health, and the army. However, as few as six deputies in the faction voted for the proposal. The others just did not take part in the voting, which can be accounted for by their reluctance to quarrel with the government or their reluctance to torpedo the budget. Mr. Pokhmelkin accuses Mr. Nemtsov of authoritarianism and leadership mania. According to Mr. Pokhmelkin, Mr. Nemtsov’s personal virtues are not outstanding, but big money is spent on its image-making. At that, the party’s rating is not going up, while Mr. Nemtsov’s rating has dropped lower than the party’s. The question arises, Mr. Pokhmelkin went on, “whether we have staked on the right horse?” Moreover, according to Mr. Pokhmelkin, it is becoming more and more difficult to reach agreements with Nemtsov, because “he prefers to deal with a retinue, not the partners.”

Mr. Nemtsov has fallen out with almost all his former allies, including Messrs. Kiriyenko, Chubais, and Gaidar. He is self-assured and ambitious, stubbornly climbing up. But in doing so, he is hardly aware that he thus plays into his political opponents’ hands. A call from the Kremlin has already rung. Being unable to forge a stable contact with Mr. Nemtsov, the Kremlin seems to be planning to create an alternative liberal party, which is supposed to squeeze the uncompromising Nemtsov out of Russia’s political Olympus.

Dmitri Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru

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