Yavlinsky Says Russian Security Taps Phones, Bullies Supporters
Sands, David R., The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Grigory Yavlinsky, Russia's best-known liberal politician, yesterday 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 yesterday, 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?"