Delegates from all over Russia came together in Moscow over the weekend of 13-15 December for the 21st Congress of the Yabloko party. After taking stock of the past four years and reflecting on the parties’ activities, delegates elected Nikolai Rybakov as the next Chairman who set the party’s main task to prepare for the State Duma elections in 2021.
The Deputy Chairman of the party since December 2015, Mr Rybakov won the vote of 69 delegates, defeating Lev Shlosberg (40 votes), Emilia Slabunova (19 votes), Oleg Vinogradov and Oleg Novikov (two each), to win in the first round of voting.
In his acceptance speech, Rybakov spoke of his dream: “I want our country, Russia, to be a space of freedom and creativity, oriented on serving people. I have a dream about our party.”
“I want young people coming to Yabloko, as I came at age 16, to be proud of the party. We should not be ashamed of any of our actions, not a single political decision”, he continued.
He said the party should come to terms with its own strength and also seek to overcome differences between generations in the party: “we just need to do this smartly, kindly, and without losing Yabloko.”
He also thanked the citizens who participated in the street actions demanding from the authorities to allow independent candidates to run in the election. Rybakov stressed that he would continue to fight for the release of the defendants of the so-called “Moscow riots” case. He recalled that it was Yabloko that came up with the Metro-picket idea, picketing for the release of political prisoners, which takes place every Friday by Moscow metro stations. He also proposed a falshmob at the congress, that delegates of the Yabloko congress raise posters over their heads demanding the release of political prisoners.
Grigory Yavlinsky, Founder of the party and Chairman of the Yabloko Federal Political Committee, made a political report during the Congress (full transcript in Russian here and the summary in English here) in which he addressed political reprisals: “Freedom for political prisoners is a demand that must be repeated every day. Not a single prisoner should be left without attention.”
“It is necessary to remember and protect not only those involved in the “Moscow riots” case, but also activists from the regions, public figures under investigation, human rights activists who were recognised “foreign agents”. Such a policy aims to scare everyone in Russia today. Their [political prisoners’] freedom is our freedom,” he said.
Mr Yavlinsky also proposed making the Memorandum of Political Alternative, a party programme document, binding on all members of the governing bodies of Yabloko. The Memorandum in addition to upholding Yabloko's strong democratic, anticorruption, antitotalitarian and anti-war stance runs that "Russia must recognise Ukraine’s sovereignty in the borders of 2013, give up its support of criminals and separatists, inciting hatred and propaganda of war. The solution of the Crimea’s problem is possible in accordance with the roadmap developed within the framework of a specially convened International Conference".
ALDE Party Vice President Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP attended the Congress and delivered a speech to delegates in which he praised the efforts of Yabloko to promote liberal values in Russia and praised them on their recent regional and local election results in which Yabloko won its largest number of members of the Moscow State Duma.
The Yabloko party is a full member of the ALDE Party and recently marked 25 years in action.