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MOSCOW, December 27 (Itar-Tass) —— On the eve of the rally in the Sakharov Avenue last Saturday, in which, according to different estimates, from 30,000 to 100,000 people took part, ex-Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin offered his help as a mediator for starting a dialogue between the protesters and the authorities. According to the information of Vedomosti, Kudrin asked Putin for an urgent meeting on Friday, told him about his ideas and realized that “a dialogue is possible.” During the rally, after discussing the issue with members of the organizing committee, he came to the conclusion that they were also ready for a dialogue.
Kudrin set forth his proposals at the rally. He suggests that the political reform, hastily proposed by the President, should be first discussed with the opposition. They should upgrade together the presidential list of changes and amendments to the laws on the elections and on political parties. New parties should be created according to new laws, and after that early elections to the Duma should be held. Two things united Kudrin and the rest of the speakers at the rally: the recognition of the fact that there were violations at the elections and the demand of the resignation of Vladimir Churov, head of the Central Electoral Commission. Kudrin did not agree with the resolution, adopted by the rally, on the cancellation of the election results. He said the opposition did not think of how the country would live without parliament, while the destabilization of the situation must not be permitted. The protesters reacted in various ways to the man, whom Putin had described as a friend ten days before. Many of those, who stood close to the stage, whistled, while people in the middle of the square applauded.
The organizing committee for holding the rally did not have a leader and ceased to exist after the rally, said Ilya Yashin, one of the members of the committee. At the same time, an informal community emerged, made up of those who prepared the rally and who spoke at it. They could form a group of negotiators. Who will be included in it will depend on two things: the topic of the discussion and the format of the talks, Yashin said.
Kudrin is not an ideal negotiator. He has little experience of public politics. He is closely associated with the government, said a source close to the presidential administration. Most probably, Kudrin just made up his mind to use the emerging opportunity. He is taking action today with a view to his political future.
In the opinion of Dmitry Orlov, a political scientist, the authorities will stick to their habitual logic: the decision, once made, must not be cancelled (in other words, they will not agree to repeated Duma elections); the authorities should not act under pressure and in a prompt response regime. They will hardly maintain a dialogue with the new opposition in a format that would be binding in any way, although some meetings might be held, Orlov believes. In his opinion, at present there is no one to hold talks with, because the organizers of the rally have no clear structure.