Ahead of the August 3 protests in Moscow, the Chairman of the Federal Political Committee of the Russian liberal Yabloko Party, Grigory Yavlinsky wrote an op-ed warning that street protests are but one of the struggle and methods and "far" from sufficient. He accused certain opposition members of deceit when they touted the "street" as a direct road to regime change. Yavlinsky also cautioned opposition leaders to avoid manipulating the protestors and to do their utmost to prevent the anti-regime demonstrations' descent into bloodshed. Yavlinsky has long been at odds with Alexey Navalny, perhaps the most prominent leader of the demonstrations, since Navalny was expelled from Yabloko in 2007. Yabloko claimed that Navalny was associating with extreme Russian nationalists including anti-Semites while Navalny claimed that the real reason for his expulsion was his demand that Yavlinsky resign as Yabloko's leader.
In a previous op-ed, titled "The Eight Demands; What The Opposition Should Strive To Achieve", Yavlinsky presented an opposition road map comprising the following key demands:
"First. Dissolution of the Moscow City Electoral Commission, which was unable to fulfill its direct responsibilities in organising elections to the Moscow City Duma, and brought the matter to a sharp public conflict instead.
"Second. Immediate adoption of a new law on the Moscow City Duma – with new representativeness (at least 110 deputies [instead of 45 at present]) and real, not formal, powers.
"Third. Adoption of a new law on elections to the Moscow City Duma, according to which half of the deputies should be elected by party lists, and half by a majority system with elections in two rounds.
"Fourth. Dissolution of all existing public and civil structures under the Moscow Mayor’s Office and formation of new ones according to new principles and rules, with a full renewal of the staff, without including discredited persons.
"Fifth. Early elections for the Mayor of Moscow in 2019. The present Mayor was unable to ensure the safety of the residents of Moscow and did not prevent beating of Muscovites on the streets of the city and even under the windows of his office.
"Sixth. Adoption of the law on introduction of real civic control over the security structures in Moscow, with endowing the newly formed special public structures with all the relevant powers.
"Seventh. Ban on the transfer of the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Guard from other regions of the Russian Federation to Moscow; officers of police and other law enforcement agencies should serve only at the place of permanent deployment of their units, transfer to other regions is possible only for elimination of natural disasters and in case of other emergencies.
"Eighth. The most important task is immediate launching of the judicial reform. Only an independent court represents an alternative to a police state; only an independent court can ensure the safety of citizens and fair elections."
Below is Yavlinsky's op-ed:
"The situation has been escalating on the threshold of possible protest actions in Moscow. The authorities are intimidating people: dozens of criminal cases return us to the period of reprisals after Bolotnaya Square [rallies in Moscow]. On the other hand, those calling on young people to take to the streets and relying on young people, compete in radicalism: it seems that they are afraid to show prudence, since in this case others will immediately replace them. In this situation, the possibility of aggression and violence is very great.
"The Yabloko party fundamentally believes that the end does not justify the means. No matter how splendid the declared goals may be, if they are achieved by violence, which at any moment can turn into bloodshed, are unacceptable to us. We do not consider it possible to push people into clashes with the law enforcement on the zero sum game principle. The threat to the life and health of our citizens is the line that Yabloko will never cross seeking for very dubious political dividends. We are not Bolsheviks and never will be. Protest heroism is neither our goal nor practice. We are fighting for a free democratic Russia.
"We believe that, first of all, it is necessary to fight for the creation of real self-government bodies, real free and competitive elections, freedom of speech and independent courts (see 'The Eight Demands. What the Opposition Should Strive to Achieve' of 29.07.2019). None of this exists in the authoritarian and semi-criminal Putin system. Therefore, the struggle should go for political changes in the country as a whole and in Moscow in particular.
"This, first of all, requires a large political party (see 'Make Your Voice Louder' of February 2019). This is the only way to protect the honor and dignity of people. Only with the help of such a party can serious political goals be achieved. Street protests are only one of the means of struggle and, as history shows, is far from sufficient. The fight must be open, very consistent, but peaceful.
"There will be no winners upon the transition to the phase of 'irreconcilable confrontation', and the executioners will take the power, as happened in similar historical situations.
"The authorities lie about 'thousands of provocateurs' allegedly taking part in street protests, about allegedly falsified signatures [of independent candidates] for registration in elections to the Moscow City Duma. But those who claim that the 'street' represents a direct road to regime change also lie. They are either mistaken 'because of emotions,' or they deliberately mislead others, and put them under attack.
"People should never be deceived under any pretext. In modern Russia, lies and manipulations are called 'political technologies' and this is the exact opposite of real politics.
"Yabloko does not consider it possible to urge its supporters to participate in uncoordinated actions: all are free to control themselves, their health and their life, but do not have the right to risk others or manipulate them."