Staunton, December 20 – Perhaps the most important development in the history of the Yabloko Party and of Russian party politics in general is that the next generation of leaders of that party are not coming from within the capital’s ring road but rather from the periphery of the Russian Federation.
While that does not guarantee a change in policy, it certainly ensures a change of perspective; and it gives rise to the hope that parties centered on Moscow will be compelled to pay more attention to Russia’s regions and to seek to recruit leaders who have risen through them than to select only from among those who have already risen through the Moscow ranks.
If that happens – and the Yabloko vote is only the first indication that it could – then Russian politics at the national level could begin to evolve from its traditional capital-centricity into a more all-country direction, a direction that could ultimately help reduce if not break the dominance of the Muscovites and Moscow on Russia.
Yesterday, in the second round of voting for chairman of Yabloko, Emiliya Slabunova, a deputy of Karelia’s legislature, defeated Lev Shlosberg, former deputy of the legislative assembly of Pskov oblast and currently publisher of the “Pskovskaya guberniya” newspaper, by a vote of 91 to 56 (grani.ru/Politics/Russia/Parties/m.247111.html).
In the first round, there were two other candidates, one from Moscow Aleksandr Gnezdilov and one from the northern capital Nikolay Rybakov but they finished far behind the final two, receiving only 12 and 19 votes respectively.
Sergey Mitrokhin, the current president of Yabloko, warmly supported Slabunova. She “has shown herself to be an independent person who does not bend to administrative or political pressure or threats of criminal prosecution.” Grigory Yavlinsky, one of the founders of the party seconded that view.
He said that Slabunova like the embattled mayor of Petrozavodsk Galina Shirshina is someone “who are in a situation of real and sharp political struggle in a region far from Moscow, a struggle with arbitrary actions” by the authorities.