// Argumenti.ru, 21.03.2015 Interview by Valentina Karyelova

For the past three months, the volume of industrial production in St. Petersburg dropped by 9.3 per cent, and the reduction in a number of important industries amounted to 27-29 per cent, wage arrears grew by 19 times, construction of apartments fell by 13 per cent – this is the price St.Petersburg dwellers have to pay for the economic crisis provoked by political reasons, including the annexation of Crimea. Grigory Yavlinsky, founder of the YABLOKO party, spoke with Argumeni.ru why Russia’s governments had been illegitimate, whether the real killers of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov would be found and what price Russian citizens would pay for the annexation of Crimea.

Argumenti.ru: Recently, the whole country celebrated the anniversary of the annexation of Crimea by Russia. You do not support this euphoria, do you?

Grigory Yavlinsky: What happened to Crimea is an absolutely unlawful military and political operation. President [of Russia] has reiterated in his film that it was annexation covered by the so-called referendum. Sooner or later, but the problem of Crimea will have to be solved: a true and free referendum will have to be conducted in the peninsula under international supervision. And only this will be able to return Russia internationally recognized borders and will start the return of the country to the international community.

Argumenti.ru: Why do you call the annexation of the peninsula by Russia a military and political gamble?

Grigory Yavlisnky: Because these developments do not base on any legal norms — neither Russian nor international. Because the so-called referendum was held under unlawful and overwhelming Russian military presence on the peninsula. Because, finally, that, as we have learned already from the recent film, the whole operation [“Referendum”] was taking place in a situation of a demonstrative threat of the use of military force. And today everyone feels the economic cost the country pays for it: decline in production, closures of plants, wage cuts, rising prices … That’s why I am saying that everything that happened to Crimea and is happening now in east Ukraine is military-political adventurism, rather than conducting of policies in the interests of the country.

Argumenti.ru: A brutal murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has been committed by the Kremlin walls recently. Do you think we will ever learn the names of the killers?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Certainly, we will learn something, but whether we believe it? The key problem of our country is a lie exceeding all possible limits. Our investigators can find the killers, and perhaps even those who ordered this crime, but will anyone believe them? They have been lying all the time [in Russia] on every occasion on all the issues always and it is never ending. By the way this is deeply rooted and began in 1917, when the government in Russia lost its true legitimacy, and since then illegal authorities had always had to lie to justify for their right to be in power. That’s the problem.
Argumenti.ru: One of the most debated topics of recent months is the coming anniversary celebration of the victory in the Second World War. It is already known that heads of many states refused to come to Russia, do you link it with the Crimea problem?

Grigory Yavlinsky: Yes, and also with all the developments in eastern Ukraine.

Argumenti.ru: How do you personally plan to spend this memorable day?

Grigory Yavlinsky: On 9 May I personally will visit the graves of my father and father-in-law who fought from 1941 to 1945, and pay tribute to them and also I will go to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There is only one veteran of the Second World War left in my circle, and I will visit him and drink with him. My next of kin won in the war at the cost of their blood and therefore are directly associated with the victory. I myself was born shortly after the war, and so for me everything connected with the victory is precious and sacred.