On the liberal
side of the political spectrum the effect of the financial crisis
was mixed. On the one hand, the crash seemed to strengthen the
appeal of Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko party (the party’s name is an
acronym formed from the initial letters of the names of its three
founders, including that of Yavlinsky).
Ever since 1992, Yavlinsky had consistently criticized the
government’s reform course, condemning Gaidar’s approach as too
crude and not suitable to Russia’s economic structure.
interpreted the events of August 1998 as a logical result of the
implementation of Gaidar’s “primitive scheme.” In the
past, the leaders of Yabloko had always been against blocs with
other liberal political groupings. Now they felt that any potential
challengers to their domination of the liberal-democratic flank had
been terminally undermined. This served to bolster Yabloko’s
self-confidence and also strengthened its traditional tendency
On the other
hand, the remaining parties and movements of the liberal and
liberal-conservative persuasion felt the need to overcome their
disunity and fragmentation. This tendency toward consolidation among
liberally and democratically minded Russians was further
strengthened following the contract killing of Galina Starovoitova
in November 1998. A Duma member and an anticorruption crusader,
Starovoitova had been a prominent figure in the democratic movement
since Gorbachev’s time.
death galvanized liberal and democratic organizations into action:
in December 1998 they set up a single liberal bloc, the Right Cause
(Pravoe delo in Russian), that united most of the better-known
liberal groupings with the exception of Yabloko. In August 1999 the
liberal-conservative coalition regrouped again, forming the election
bloc the Union of Right Forces (SPS in Russian).