The Union of Right Forces (SPS) as a party is leaving the political scene, which the latest session of its Political Council graphically demonstrated. The fact that former co-chairs Irina Khakamada (busy creating her own party, Free Russia), Boris Nemtsov (lured into the oil business) and Yegor Gaidar (opted for research) have refused to accept the party leadership speaks volumes.
The only former leader who has proclaimed his readiness to continue working in the SPS is RAO UES CEO Anatoly Chubais, which has encouraged observers to call the ruins of the SPS "the party of Chubais."
Officially, the Political Council met in session to discuss the results of the March 14 presidential elections, in which the right forces (just as Yabloko) failed to act in concert and formulate a clear-cut election programme. This cost them a considerable part of the electorate that still believed in them.
As a result, the council did not discuss the election outcome. Instead, the session only deepened the split in the party. Party members from RAO UES called for constructive criticism of the Kremlin, while the supporters of the old leadership thought the party should take a harsher stand.
What will be the results of this confrontation? The answer could be given at the June congress of the SPS, where the party should elect a new leader. In this situation, it seems appropriate to ask a question: which right-wing parties does Russia need? We offer you the answers published in the newspaper Commersant.
Mikhail Prusak, Governor of the Novgorod Region: [We need parties that] will create a normal democratic movement relying not on oligarchs but on broad sections of the population. The figures at the top do not matter; what matters is a programme of economic liberalisation. The new Right must not flirt with the authorities. The old democrats first bargained for posts and then demanded that Putin create a democratic front. But this is not a task for the president.
Sergei Ivanenko, deputy chairman of Yabloko: We need united parties. The liberal-democratic forces must survive and grow. Any ideas are permissible if they are based on the prime value of human beings and the secondary role of the state. And the person whom the voters accept as the leader should be given the top post.
Dmitry Skarga, head of Sovkomflot: We need those parties that are truly right, meaning that they stand close to the people, and not some like the SPS and Yabloko. On the other hand, we should decide what is a right-wing party. It is a conservative party. Such a party in Russia can rely on the middle class, those who work around the clock. They are the foundation of society, and yet they do not have a party.
Sergei Aleksashenko, deputy director general of Interros: We need parties that can hear reason. Right-wing ideas exist in any society and, whatever happens, Russia will have a place for right-wing parties and their leaders. The main thing is not to place the cart before the horse.
Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Russian Jewish Congress: We need clever, fair and upright parties, and I do not care if they are left- or right-wing. What party are we talking about? Show it to me and let me get a taste of it.
Alexander Tarantsev, president of Russkoye Zoloto: We need parties for which patriotism, God, private property and human rights are more than words. The ones we used to have were nothing more than impersonators.