Yabloko congress to discuss election-campaign issues

The Yabloko party is to hold its congress December 20-21, to define the format of its participation in presidential elections, a spokesperson for the party's press center told RIA Novosti.

The congress will begin at 3.00 p.m. Moscow time, taking place behind closed doors, the spokesperson went on to say.

Yabloko, which was defeated in the course of the December 7 parliamentary elections, has so far failed to unveil its presidential election-race strategy. For his own part, Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky said the other day that he won't run for the top Kremlin post.

Talking to RIA Novosti the day before, another Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin noted that the party congress will opt for one of the three following strategies, i.e. non-involvement in elections, advocating an election boycott or nominating a common liberal candidate together with the Union of Right Forces (SPS), which didn't jump the five-percent election hurdle either.

Talking to reporters December 18, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation said that those politicians, who advocated an election boycott, were behaving as cowards. It's a stupid and harmful idea to boycott the elections, the Russian head of state noted.

This is a cowardly position; those, who lack any chances, would find it more honest and correct to mount the rostrum and state their position, Putin believes.

Both liberal parties, i.e. Yabloko and SPS, which didn't make it to the State Duma nearly two weeks ago, based their election campaigns on mutual criticism. They have so far proved unable to choose a common presidential candidate, who would take part in the March 14, 2004 elections.

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