What a difference a month made to the members of St Petersburg branch of Right Cause political party who had recently elected Evgeny Mauter as their leader! At the conference people looked stern and very perplexed. A neat, suitcase-like blue ballot box was this time replaced by a cardboard box, fixed with adhesive tape. Few people in the back rows held slogans, scrawled with fountain pen: “Prokhorov for president!” and “Our case is right!” (one each), and “Rydnik for the Duma” (two). Banker Yury Rydnik was the person whom members of the party had to elect their leader, at the request of tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, the party boss.  

In his introductory speech, chairman of the board of Baltinvestbank Yury Rydnik told the fellow members of the party that, being a member of the family that lived in Leningrad for the whole life, he had a “standpoint of his own”. Rydnik boasted of having paid for the renovation of Greek-style monumental columns in the centre of St Petersburg. Rydnik referred to the fact of his expulsion from the legislature of St Petersburg: “I was first whom they expelled from United Russia!” Fellow members of Right Cause applauded. In the end, Rydnik made a forcible argument in his favour - they were friends with Mikhail Prokhorov for 18 years!

However, such “democratic” attitude boosted political activity of ordinary members of the party. They asked questions, a few dared to vote against… not many, 5-6 against each proposal.

Are you the party member? Rydnik was asked. Yes, he was... since 31 August.

The vote was long and tiresome: people queued up for ballot papers in the lobby, then, having found a seat in the conference room, they accurately marked their vote with cross and put the ballot paper to the box. Some wanted to leave before the results, but they were stopped: Wait, there will be the banquet!          

After counting the vote, it turned out that Yury Rydnik was elected with a majority of 301 votes out of 370.Evgeny Mauter, predecessor of Yury Rydnik, who had been elected by almost unanimous vote a month ago, knew from the begging that his function was merely technical, the Russian mafia (rumafia) was told. Mikhail Prokhorov had included him in the first three of the federal party list.