- The Washington Times - Friday, June 23, 2000

Grigory Yavlinsky, Russia's best-known liberal politician, Thursday accused the country's internal-security forces of tapping his telephones and trying to coerce supporters to spy on him.
"You must not take the country back to the atmosphere of surveillance, informers and political repression," Mr. Yavlinsky wrote in a letter to Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev. The FSB is the direct successor agency to the old Soviet KGB.
Mr. Yavlinsky, whose reform-oriented candidacy finished a distant third in March to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on the party's Web site that he had received information that FSB agents had tried to blackmail at least two younger party members to spy on Yabloko activists.
"This is shameful and violates the constitution," Mr. Yavlinsky wrote.
The political leanings of Mr. Putin, a former KGB agent himself, have come under increased scrutiny in the wake of last week's detention of Vladimir Gusinsky, the owner of the country's leading independent media organization, on charges of financial fraud.
In Washington Thursday, leading officials of the Union of Right Forces, another pro-market party that has allied with Yabloko in Russia's parliament, said it is still hard to predict how the largely untested Mr. Putin will govern.
Boris Mints, chairman of the party's executive committee, worked with Mr. Putin when both held administrative posts inside the Kremlin under then-President Boris Yeltsin.
"My sense is that [Mr. Putin's] inclinations are democratic and liberal," said Mr. Mints.
"But the political success he has achieved so quickly leads to a kind of dizziness," he added. "And the question is, if he does get dizzy, which way will he go?"
Mr. Mints said Russia's pro-market-reform parties have been generally happy with both the economic team and the economic program Mr. Putin has backed since his May 7 inauguration. But he called the Gusinsky arrest a "debacle" and expressed concerns about other signals that Mr. Putin is not a strong supporter of democracy and political rights.
"Nothing in this life is black and white," said Mr. Mints. "Where the president is supporting our ideas and proposals, we will back him. When he doesn't support our ideas, we will strongly disagree."
Founded in September 1999, the Union of Right Forces has tried to unite Russia's quarreling reform parties, pushing for a thorough overhaul of the economy and better relations with the West.
While trying to build a grass-roots base, the party also boasts a number of leaders in influential positions in the Russian government and business elite.
Former Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, one of five "co-leaders" of the Union of Right Forces, was tapped last month by Mr. Putin to be one of seven presidential representatives to the country's vast new federal administrative districts.
Fellow co-leader Anatoly Chubais, a controversial champion of economic restructuring under Mr. Yeltsin, now runs the country's biggest electrical utility.
Mr. Yavlinsky and Yabloko have been more outspoken in their criticisms of Mr. Putin's war against the breakaway republic of Chechnya.
Party spokeswoman Yevgenia Dilendorf said Mr. Yavlinsky had been shadowed by FSB agents for about three weeks, and his telephone conversations had been monitored. She did not say how the party learned of the surveillance.
FSB authorities did not comment on the charges yesterday.

This article was based in part on wire service reports.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide