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Grigory Alexeyevich Yavlinsky ( ; born April 10, 1952) is a Russianmarker economist, and politician. He is best known as the author of 500 Days, a plan for the transition of the USSRmarker into a free-market economy, and for his leadership of the liberal Yabloko party.

Biography

Yavlinsky was born into a relatively well-off family in Lvivmarker, Ukrainian SSR. His father Alexei was an officer, while his mother Vera taught chemistry at an institute. Both his parents are buried in Lviv, and his brother Mikhail lives there.

In 1967 and 1968 he was the champion of Ukraine in junior boxing. He decided to become an economist during his school years. From 1967 to 1976 he studied at the Plekhanov Institute of the National Economy in Moscow and took a post-graduate course there. A kandidat of economics (PhD), he worked in the coal sector.

From 1984 he held a management position at the Labor Ministry and then the Council of Ministers of the USSR. He was head of the Joint Economic Department of the Government of the USSR. In 1989, he was made department head of academician Leonid Abalkin's State Commission for Economic Reforms.

Post-Soviet economic reforms

Yavlinsky's commitment to a market economy was established when in 1990 he wrote "500 Days" - a populist program for the Soviet Union promising rapid transition from communism to a free market in less than 2 years. To implement the program, Yavlinsky was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR, Chairman of the State Commission of the USSR for Economic Reform. The program was not implemented and Yavlinsky resigned from his post. Initially, Yavlinsky worked closely with Boris Nemtsov, one of the self-proclaimed 'Young Reformers', who was to become one of the co-leaders of the Union of Right Forces (or SPS).

Political activities

President Putin with Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the Yabloko party in the State Duma


In 1995, in-fighting between 'liberal' factions in the State Duma prompted Yavlinsky and two other leaders to create Yabloko, a Russian political party. Among the features of the new party that would distinguish it from other liberal parties was its criticism of Yeltsin's policies, e.g. the handling of the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis, in which the Supreme Soviet of Russia fell under siege from President Yeltsin. As the self-styled "democratic opposition", Yabloko representatives were to support an effort to impeach Boris Yeltsin in 1998, which eventually failed. However, Yavlinsky was responsible for proposing that Yevgeny Primakov become Prime Minister that year; this helped resolve a political stalemate and many credit Primakov with the recovery from Russia's 1998 financial crisis.

From the mid-1990s, Yavlinsky had been involved in developing tax and budget reforms. He was both an active opponent of a military solution to the problems in Chechnyamarker and of imports of radioactive waste into Russia. He was also a rigorous and uncompromising critic of the Russian government's reforms of the housing and utilities sector and electricity reforms. In April 2003 the Yabloko faction in the Duma initiated a collection of signatures for the resignation of the government.

In 1996 and 2000, Yavlinsky ran for President with endorsement from his party. In 1996 he came in fourth place and received 7.3% of the vote. In 2000 presidential elections he came in third and received 5.8% of the vote. In 2002 he took part in the unsuccessful negotiations during the Moscow theater hostage crisismarker and was praised by President Vladimir Putin for his role in the stand off.

Yavlinsky's faction had a difficult relationship with the authorities after Putin became president. Although supporting many of the government's tax and budgetry reforms, and Putin's early foreign policy goal of developing closer ties to the United Statesmarker, he was critical of the arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He became increasingly outspoken about what he argued were an assault on democratic freedoms in Russia. Nonetheless, his name was regularly mentioned as a possible replacement for Putin's Prime Minister, Mikhail Kasyanov in the run up to the Russian presidential election, 2004.

Yavlinsky refused to run for president in 2004, claiming that Putin had rigged elections so that the Yabloko faction would fail to gain the necessary 5% of votes to procure seats in the Duma. Accusations of vote-rigging by Putin's administration were also heard from the Union of Right Forces and Communists, although the Yabloko vote had been steadily declining since 1995 and opinion polls constantly indicated that the party would struggle to make it into the new Duma. Yavlinsky later recalled that Putin telephoned him early on election night to congratulate him, apparently believing that Yabloko had succeeded in gaining representation.

Yavlinsky remains a leading critic of Putin and of Russia's leading United Russia Party. In a January 12, 2004 interview, he is quoted as saying:

We don't have an independent parliament any more.
For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union we again have a one-party parliament.
There are no independent mass media of any significance any more.
There is no public control over secret services and the law enforcement agencies, there is no independent legislature.
The authorities considerably influence the elections.
All elements of society are concentrated in the same hands which resemble the 1930s.
This is a semi-Soviet system.


After Yabloko again failed to secure representation in the Russian legislative election, 2007, Yavlinsky initially proposed to run for president in 2008. However, many Yabloko members threw their support behind Vladimir Bukovsky and Yavlinsky did not submit any nomination papers to the Central Election Committee. Many members of the Union of Right Forces blamed Yavlinsky's personality for a failure to merge the two parties and mount a concentrated challenge to United Russia in this round of elections.

Yavlinsky's leadership of his party came under attack from the younger members of his party. Yavlinsky stepped down as party leader on Sunday the 22nd June, 2008, and was replaced by Moscow City Duma deputy Sergey Mitrokhin.

Yavlinsky met his wife, Yelena, while studying at the Plekhanov Institute, and the couple have two children. Their son Mikhail was born in 1971 and currently works for the BBC Russian Service in London. Their other son, Alexei, was born in 1981 and works as a computer programmer in Moscow.

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