Chairman of the Yabloko Association, State Duma Deputy
Grigory Yavlinsky was born on April 10, 1952, in Lviv (Ukraine) in the family of an army officer. His nationality is Russian.
He dropped out of grade 9 in secondary school to start working. In 1968-1969 he worked as an electrical fitter at the Lvov Glass Firm Raduga and finished an evening secondary school. In 1969 he was admitted to the Plekhanov National Economy Institute in Moscow. He graduated from the Institute in 1973 and finished a post-graduate course there in 1976. Among his professors was Academician Leonid Abalkin.
He is a Candidate of Economics (he defended a dissertation on "Improvement of Labor Division in the Chemical Industry in 1978."
In 1976-1977 he worked as Senior Engineer with the National Coal Industry Management Research Institute, and from 1977 to 1980 as a senior researcher, and from 1980 through 1984 as chief of Sector with the Labor Research Institute Under the State Committee for Labor and Social Issues (Goskomtrud). Since 1984 he was deputy chief of department and head of directorate of Goskomtrud.
Yavlinsky claims that he was an indirect victim of political persecution since 1982 when he wrote a paper "Problems of Improving the Economic Mechanism in the USSR" in which he predicted the onset of the economic crisis. The text and rough copies of the book were confiscated from Yavlinsky and he was summoned to the Special Department for interviews several times. He believes that his forced treatment for "tuberculosis" in 1984-1985 also had something to do with it. Yavlinsky claims that he barely managed to avoid an operation to remove a lung and checked out of hospital after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power with the doctors giving him a clean bill of health. He was a member of the CPSU from 1985 until it was banned in 1991.
In 1986 together with his colleagues he drafted the law on the state enterprise which was, however, rejected by Nikolai Talyzin and Geidar Aliyev who were in charge of drafting the law and who thought the draft to be too liberal.
In the summer 1989 Abalkin, who had become chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, invited Yavlinsky to the post of head of department and simultaneously secretary of the State Commission of the USSR Council of Ministers for Economic Reform (the Abalkin Commission). In the spring of 1990 Yavlinsky, together with young economists Alexei Mikhailov and Mikhail Zadornov, wrote a draft program for reforming the economy by switching it to market methods entitled "500 Days." The program was submitted for comments by members of the government and leading economists. Mikhail Bocharov who ran for the post of Prime Minister of the RSFSR used it without attribution. As a result, many got the impression that he was the author of the program. After a settling of accounts on the fringes of the Congress of People's Deputies of RSFSR, Bocharov recognized Yavlinsky authorship and the latter, after a meeting with Yeltsin, was appointed Chairman of the State Commission of RSFSR for Economic Reform and Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of RSFSR on July 16.
Yeltsin proposed the program (called "500 Days") to Gorbachev. At their joint initiative a working group led by Academician Stanislav Shatalin was set up in late July 1990. It was charged with developing a comprehensive national program for transition to a market economy on the basis of "500 Days." Shatalin's deputy was Nikolai Petrakov, and Yavlinsky was unanimously recognized as the main author of the program. Work on the program lasted for 27 days and the idea brought about a temporary political rapprochement between the leaders of the USSR and the RSFSR. It envisaged a treaty among sovereign republics on economic alliance, legalization of all types of property and the start of privatization of government enterprises. To reduce the budget deficit it was proposed to cut aid to the developing countries, and spending on the army and the civil service. Monetary reform was not envisaged.
The program was backed in all the 15 republics, but was resolutely rejected by the Council of Ministers of the USSR headed by Nikolai Ryzhkov. The Supreme Soviet of the USSR effectively rejected the program in October 1990. The main reason for the rejection of "500 Days" was a change of stance by Mikhail Gorbachev who withdrew his support for the program. In the Supreme Soviet of the USSR Gorbachev urged a combination of the Yavlinsky-Shatalin program and an alternative program of Abalkin-Ryzhkov, which was considered impossible by both sides.
When it became clear that the USSR government did not intend to go ahead with the "500 Days" program Yeltsin announced that Russia would go it alone without the other Union republics (it was a purely political statement because the program was designed for the Union of republics and could not be implemented by just one of them).
On October 17, 1990 Yavlinsky resigned his post of deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of Russia. Later he would claim that the implementation of "500 Days" would have preserved the USSR.
In January 1991 he was appointed economic adviser to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Russia. This was an unpaid job. Simultaneously he worked at the Inter-Republican Center for Economic and Political Research (EPICenter) which he organized. He promoted the reform program "Consent to a Chance" which he developed with the help of Harvard University scientists and which provided for significant assistance of developed countries to the reform of the Soviet economy. The program was eventually rejected by Gorbachev.
In the spring of 1991 he was appointed member of the Supreme Economic Council of Kazakhstan, a consultative body under President Nazarbayev.
During the August 1991 coup attempt he was in White House, and on August 22, 1991, he went along with representatives of law-enforcement bodies to arrest Boris Pugo, Minister of the Interior of the USSR (by the time they arrived Pugo and his wife were dead).
On August 28, 1991 Yavlinsky became deputy to Ivan Silayev, Chairman of the Committee for Operational Management of the USSR Economy responsible for economic reform. He made a sensational statement on the size of the USSR gold reserves which turned out to be exceedingly small. The Committee terminated its work in December 1991 because of the dissolution of the USSR.
From October to December 1991 he was a member of the political consultative committee under the USSR President. He was also a member of the working group to draft the Treaty on Economic Cooperation between the republics of the USSR. He sharply criticized the withdrawal by the Russian government of the signature of Economy Minister of the RSFSR, Yevgeny Saburov under the Economic Union Treaty.
From June 1 to September 1, 1992, Yavlinsky's EPICenter developed a regional reform program commissioned by the administration of Nizhny Novgorod region. The main measure proposed for the stabilization of the economy was the issue of a regional loan to raise cash, relieve producers of non-productive expenditure and introduce an information system for "current monitoring of social indicators." Yavlinsky believes that as a result of three months of work, he was able to create a basis for the formation of a market infrastructure and make proposals regarding "new federalism" in Russia ("to search for solutions not from top to bottom, but from bottom to the top"). The results of the experiment are described in the book "Nizhny Novgorod Prologue" (1993) brought out by EPICenter.
Yavlinsky hoped to apply the experience of Nizhny Novgorod in Novosibirsk, where he became economic consultant to the regional administration in October 1992 and in St. Petersburg where Mayor Anatoly Sobchak invited him to develop a privatization scheme for the city.
He became a member of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy founded on June 22, 1992 (along with Sergei Stankevich, Yevgeny Ambartsumov, Arkady Volsky, Sergei Yushenkov and others).
In November 1992 Yavlinsky presented a programmatic statement at an international seminar "Doing Business with Russia" which some members of the audience described as a "soft start of an electoral campaign". Yavlinsky believes that the financial stabilization policy of the government of Yegor Gaidar has failed and there are no political or economic prerequisites for it ("It is impossible to stabilize the currency of a country that does not exist"). He urged simplification of trade regulations between the former republics and a transition to systemic reform (land reform and privatization). In an interview with the newspaper Russkaya Mysl he said that if elected president, he would like to include Yury Boldyrev, Boris Nemtsov and Konstantin Zatulin in his team: "They will work."
After bloody disturbances during the demonstration on May 1, 1993 in Moscow, he demanded that the authorities punish all the culprits.
In September 1993 his initial reaction to Yeltsin's decree on the dissolution of parliament and the Supreme Soviet's retaliatory attempt to remove Yeltsin from power was to declare that "the decisions of the President are undoubtedly unlawful, but the actions of the Supreme Soviet are not legitimate." And he proposed that the conflicting parties "mutually renounce the moves made on September 21 and 22" and "appoint dates of simultaneous early elections of the president and parliament for early 1994 (that is, a compromise program similar to the "zero option" proposed by the Constitutional Court Chairman Valery Zorkin).
On September 25 he signed the "Program of the 14" (A.Vladislavlev, S.Glazyev, A.Denisov, I.Diskin, I.Klochkov, V.Lipitsky, N.Ryzhkov, V.Tretiakov, N.Fyodorov, Ye.Yakovlev and others) proposing simultaneous early elections of the parliament and the president on the basis of a modified "zero option": the decisions of all the power bodies starting from September 21 "dealing with constitutional issues" were to be suspended and pending a new election the activities of the Supreme Soviet were to be reduced to supervisory functions and consideration of the legislation initiated by the government. But at a press conference on September 28, 1993 her said that a compromise "according to Zorkin" was no longer realistic and that in his opinion parliament should be made to surrender firearms and the presidential team to call simultaneous elections in February-March, and not in December 1994. He went to White House on a mission of mediation.
After the events of October 3 when the adherents of the parliament and Aleksandr Rutskoi seized the mayor's office and tried to storm Ostankino, he demanded that the mutiny should be put down by military force.
In October 1993 he created his own electoral association, the Yavlinsky-Boldyrev-Lukin (YaBLoko) bloc together with Vladimir Lukin, Russia's Ambassador to the USA, and Yury Boldyrev, former head of the Control Directorate of the Russian President's Administration, and EPICenter members. The official founders of the bloc were Republican party of Russian Federation (RPRF), Social Democratic Party of Russian Federation (SDPR) and Russian Christian Democratic Union - New Democracy party.
On December 12, 1993 he was elected deputy of the State Duma on the bloc's ticket. He became the head of the YABLOKO faction in the Duma and an ex-officio member of the Duma Council.
In late 1994 he condemned the start of hostilities in Chechnya. He went to Chechnya in order to secure the release of Russian prisoners-of-war captured by the troops of Dzhokhar Dudayev (the mission was a partial success).
In the 1995 elections for the State Duma Yavlinsky topped the list of the Yabloko electoral association which won the fourth place with 6.89 percent of the vote.
On February 9, 1996 the Central Election Commission registered the authorized representatives of Yabloko which nominated Yavlinsky as its candidate for President of Russia.
On March 15, 1995 he signed, together with Svyatoslav Fyodorov and Aleksandr Lebed, a statement critical of the Duma resolution on the Belovezh accords of December 1991 initiated by the CPRF and People's Power. He voted against the repeal of the renunciation of the 1922 Treaty and against the resolution whereby Russia recognized the results of the referendum on the preservation of the USSR.
He is in opposition to President Yeltsin and has repeatedly said that he believes Yeltsin to be a spent force politically.
He believes that Russia cannot curb inflation by tightening the monetary policy. In his opinion, this calls for political stabilization, institutional change of the foundations of the Russian economy, a change of the relationships between partners within the ruble zone and a change of the financial system. Prior to that, adjustments should be made in the context of inflation with extensive use of the mechanisms of indexation in paying wages, interest on bank loans, etc.
In his book "Nizhny Novgorod Prologue" Yavlinsky makes a case study of the Nizhny Novgorod region to demonstrate his model of political and economic reform in Russia. The book sets out possible principles of the organization of the state. In Yavlinsky's opinion the relations of the Center and the regions must be highly specific in character and based on principles he defines as "new federalism". The main economic principle is limiting state interference in the economy. According to Yavlinsky, the new state's foreign policy is summed up in the words "equal among the strongest", and its defense doctrine should be one of "maximum mobility of the armed forces backed up by a nuclear deterrent."
He is married. His wife is an economist. He has two sons.