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Johnson's Russia List
16 December 1999
[Note from David Johnson:
1. Reuters: Russian State Duma election rules.
2. Reuters: Outline of Russian regional elections.
3. The Guardian (UK): Jonathan Steele, The hungry bear. We gave Russia
privatisation, price hikes, and authoritarianism mistakes.
4. Christian Science Monitor: Fred Weir and Judith Matloff, Why Grozny's
fall won't end war.
5. International Herald Tribune: Jim Hoagland, No Easy Escape for Moscow
>From Likely Chechnya Fallout.
6. Moscow Times: Natalya Shulyakovskaya, 'Young Reformers' Link Up With
7. Reuters: Pollsters caught in Russia election storm.
8. Nezavisimaya Gazeta: Mikhail Gorshkov, ONLY KPRF, MEDVED, OVR AND
YABLOKO CAN BE CALM. The Elections to the State Duma Will Most Likely Not
Be Without Surprises.]
Russian State Duma election rules
MOSCOW, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Russia will hold an election to the State Duma
lower house of parliament on December 19 which will be contested by 27
parties and blocs and 2,318 candidates in constituencies across 11 time
Following is a brief outline of rules for the election.
Contestants contest all 450 seats in the chamber. Half of them go to parties
and political blocs that muster more than five percent with the seats
allocated in proportion to the number of actual votes cast for a particular
Winners in individual constituencies occupy the remaining 225 seats.
Elections will only actually take place this time in 224 constituencies. The
one constituency that will not take part is Chechnya, where Russian troops
are battling Islamic rebels.
Participants in the vote are allowed to campaign from the day of their
official registration by the Central Election Commission up to 32 hours
before the start of the vote.
Distribution of opinion polls and other election-related research must stop
three days before voting.
Polling stations open at 8 a.m. local time and close at 8 p.m.
Voters in remote areas and on ships at sea may vote in advance but not more
than 15 days before election day.
COUNTING RULES ARE COMPLEX
In individual constituencies, victory goes to the person who wins a simple
majority of votes. If it is a tie, the candidate who registered first with
the election commission is the winner.
A vote in any constituency is null and void if less than 25 percent of
registered voters cast ballots or if more people choose ``none of the above''
from the list than there are votes for the winning candidate.
Local election commissions annul the results of a vote if they consider they
cannot reliably count them because of violations and if results in more than
25 percent of the total number of polling stations in a constituency have
Parties and blocs which win more than five percent of the votes share the 225
seats allocated to them in the lower chamber but only if their combined
result exceeds 50 percent.
If they fail to reach that level then parties with less than five but more
than three percent are gradually added to the winners list until their
combined total exceeds 50 percent.
If one party wins more than 50 percent of the votes and all others fail to
clear the five percent barrier then the second best enters the Duma along
with the winner no matter what percentage of votes it gained.
The Central Election Commission divides the total number of ballots cast for
parties and blocs by the number of seats they contest -- 225.
This allows it to establish how many ballots were cast for each seat. Then
the number of votes cast for each party is divided by the number for each
seat, giving the parties a particular amount of places in the Duma.
Official election results must be published within three weeks of the day of
Outline of Russian regional elections
MOSCOW, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Voters in some parts of Russia will elect regional
leaders on Sunday in addition to choosing deputies to the State Duma, the
lower house of parliament.
Following is a list of where regional elections will take place and the major
candidates. Winners automatically earn a seat in parliament's upper house,
the Federation Council.
MOSCOW - Moscow will elect a mayor. Incumbent Yuri Luzhkov, also running for
parliament on his Fatherland-All Russia party's ticket, faces opponents
including former Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko and Pavel Borodin, who runs
the Kremlin department responsible for the presidency's vast real estate
MOSCOW REGION - Duma speaker Gennady Seleznyov, former Finance Minister Boris
Fyodorov and Afghanistan war hero General Boris Gromov are among candidates
taking on lesser-known incumbent Anatoly Tyazhlov.
MARITIME TERRITORY - Governor Yevgeny Nazdratenko competes against half a
dozen others in a bid to retain the top post in this Far East region
bordering the Pacific Ocean. The region's main city, Vladivostok, votes for a
NOVOSIBIRSK - Governor Vitaly Mukha faces a re-election battle in this
Siberian region against candidates including Novosibirsk Mayor Viktor
ORENBURG - Governor Vladimir Yelagin, Orenburg Mayor Gennady Donkovtsev and
Alexei Chernyshev, a former official of the regional branch of the Communist
Party, are the main candidates in this region in the Ural mountains.
YAROSLAVL - Governor Anatoly Lisitsyn and head of the regional Communist
Party Vladimir Kornilov are the main contenders in this region, just north of
TAMBOV - Communist incumbent Alexander Ryabov is the leading candidate in
Tambov, which is one of the worst economic performers in the fertile Black
Earth Region south of Moscow.
TVER - Governor Vladimir Platov faces Communist challenger Vladimir Bayunov
in this area west of Moscow.
VOLGOGRAD - Communist governor Nikolai Maksyuta is widely expected to retain
his post in the mainly pro-Communist Red Belt region.
NOTE - Russia's Supreme Court last week overruled a decision by the city of
St Petersburg to move its election for city mayor forward to December 19, but
regional governor Vladimir Yakovlev has appealed against the decision.
The Guardian (UK)
16 December 1999
The hungry bear
We gave Russia privatisation, price hikes, and authoritarianism mistakes
As Russians prepare to elect a new parliament on Sunday, the big issue is
still the social cost of market reform. The horrors of the Chechen campaign
ought to be a subject of furious debate, but a depressingly myopic unity
still pervades the political elite. Few are willing to accept that official
policy is at fault.
On the economy it is a different story. While almost every Russian has long
known that things have gone badly wrong, blindness has reigned in the west.
Mistakes in the reform strategy may not have killed people as suddenly as the
bombs on Grozny but they have caused misery to millions and, by lowering life
expectancy, condemned countless Russians to premature death.
It is not easy for a major western organisation to admit this but when one
does it deserves genuine thanks. With its latest report on 10 years of
"transition" in Europe's former communist states, the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) produced an amazingly frank, as well as
well-researched, recognition of error, particularly in Russia and the other
former Soviet republics. It covers the increase in poverty, the surge in
income inequality, the huge drops in output and prosperity and mistakes in
the advice which western governments gave.
The EBRD puts its sackcloth and ashes on discreetly. No headlines. No
highlighted paragraphs in the press release. But the admissions are there,
and they strike at the heart of what has been called the Washington
consensus. This was the combined body of policies advocated by the
international financial institutions and which they insisted on as a
condition for their loans.
Their central recommendations were for rapid liberalisation of prices and the
privatisation of state property. Now the EBRD recognises: "Experience
shows... that liberalisation and privatisation will not automatically lead to
a demand for insitutions to support well-functioning markets". Even more
dramatically, the report savages the political strategy which was adopted by
the US and other western governments. While paying lip service to democracy,
western governments actually favoured authoritarian policies. They urged
Boris Yeltsin to override opposition to his economic policies. They insisted
on describing the Russian parliament as "communist-dominated", encouraged him
to disband it, supported his use of tanks against it and applauded the new
constitution which gave enormous powers to the presidency.
To test the effectiveness of this strategy of imposing change hastily rather
than going slow and seeking consensus, the EBRD's researchers correlated the
fate of reform with the nature of government across all of eastern Europe as
well as the former USSR. They came up with a fascinating conclusion:
"Experience runs counter to the conventional wisdom that the successful
adoption of reform requires strong political executives with the power to act
swiftly and decisively against opponents." The EBRD finds the opposite was
more likely to have been true. Estonia, Hungary and Latvia all made
significant progress in reform with relatively weak prime ministers, while
Russia, Belarus, and Azerbaijan, which have strong presidential systems,
largely failed. The moral is that you have to take the public with you. You
cannot succeed, in the EBRD's words, "if you concentrate political power in
the hands of committed reformers and insulate them from the constraints of
This is explosive stuff, but the EBRD report is also important for developing
the useful term "the capture of the state" to describe what has gone wrong in
Russia. Powerful elites, which include new capitalists as well as some of the
old communist factory managers, have taken control of government in an
interlocking arrangement of favours and kick-backs which makes nonsense of
the free market.
The EBRD is not alone in recognising error. Other proponents of the
Washington consensus are starting to make their own admissions, though
usually more veiled than the EBRD's. Thane Gustafson, a Georgetown university
professor co-authored an optimistic forecast some years ago called Russia
2010. Now, in his latest book, he accepts "it was naive, in retrospect, to
believe that capitalism in Russia could be built in a decade". But he still
subscribes to the facile social Darwinism of many of Russia's own reformers,
who put their faith in the grim reaper. When all else fails, welcome the
undertaker. "The generation of pensioners who are the main constituency of
the neo-communist parties is gradually moving off the stage," Gustafson
reports cheerfully. But the surge in support for the ex-communists among
young people in eastern Germany ought to be a reminder that opposition to the
excesses of the new eastern European capitalism is not just prompted by
nostalgia or senility.
In the US the "who lost Russia?" debate is another sign that western
governments and the neo-liberal economists are beginning to see they failed.
What makes the new consensus irritating is its assumption that no one got
Russia right, and that it was only last year's financial crash which revealed
that reform was not what it seemed. In fact, some experts saw it several
years earlier. Janine Wedel, in her book Collision and Collusion, revealed
how the "econo-lobbyists", several of them based at Harvard, set up shop in
Russia and made a good deal of money for themselves as well as for the crony
capitalists by helping to control the flow of foreign aid. Anna Pollert's
Transformation at Work saw how reform in central Europe was not going
according to plan.
But the result is not just a chaotic mess of crime and corruption. Alena
Ledeneva's Russia's Economy of Favours shows that the new Russian economy is
a rational system with complex unwritten rules which Russian managers and
entrepreneurs understand. The surface structures of the market economy
conceal a web of informal networks between banks, enterprises and government
departments which both subvert and support the formal ones. The resulting
"virtual economy" runs on barter and IOUs and may be larger than the
EBRD officials as well as the International Monetary Fund now accept this,
even if their political masters are not yet up to speed. Better late than
Christian Science Monitor
December 16, 1999
Why Grozny's fall won't end war
Russian officials predict taking the Chechen capital within days. But they
still face determined rebels.
By Fred Weir , Special to The Christian Science Monitor and Judith Matloff,
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Russian military machine is closing in on the beleaguered Chechen capital
of Grozny, with the latest fighting reported north and southeast of the city.
But analysts warn its seizure would represent a Pyrrhic victory.
It is a David versus Goliath struggle, pitting 100,000 Russian troops armed
with heavy artillery and rockets and backed by warplanes against a few
thousand guerrilla foot soldiers whose weightiest weapons are mortars.
While Russian advantages look invincible on paper, Moscow's Army mainly
consists of poorly fed and ill-trained conscripts barely out of high school.
Their Chechen adversaries are highly motivated in their struggle for national
independence, and most have invaluable battlefield experience as veterans of
the 1994-96 war against Russia.
"There will be escalation of pressure against Grozny, though I think it will
be gradual," says Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent defense analyst based in
Moscow. "But any capture of the city will be just the beginning of the
territorial campaign, not the end of the war." He notes it would take only a
few snipers hiding in the rubble to make life miserable for Russian troops.
In almost 10 weeks of fighting, Russian forces have regained control of more
than half of the separatist republic and suffered, according to official
sources, only 400 dead. Both sides routinely exaggerate the other's losses.
Of Chechnya's major population centers, only Grozny continues to hold out.
Russian troops rolled into Shali, southeast of the capital this week after
warning town leaders to expel rebel fighters and raise the Russian flag or
The Russians have drawn a ring of steel around the capital. "The question of
Grozny's liberation should take a matter of days," Gen. Valery Manilov, first
deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said yesterday. "The question of
the liberation of the rest of the Chechen territory is a matter of weeks."
General Manilov added: "No massive strikes, no storms, no assaults will take
place on Grozny." In 1995, the Russians eventually won the city with a
massive infantry assault after weeks of hard fighting that cost thousands of
Russian lives. The plan this time is to clobber rebel positions with heavy
weapons fire and advance into the ruins gradually. Where resistance is
encountered, Rus-sian forces will pull back.
For the estimated 10,000 to 50,000 people surviving in Grozny basements and
makeshift bunkers, many of them elderly or infirm, life is a daily ordeal of
searching for supplies in between air and artillery attacks.
Though it is impossible to calculate how many fighters remain in the city,
experts say they could number as many as 6,000.
Whether the rebels dig in for a street-by-street fight could depend on how
they resolve their own internal disputes. Analysts say the republic's elected
president, Aslan Maskhadov, is at loggerheads with field commander Shamil
Basayev over whether to abandon Grozny.
"Basayev wants to concentrate in the mountains of the south, where he has
support and will be the undisputed leader," says Valery Fyodorov, an expert
with the Center for Russian Political Trends, a Moscow think tank. "But
Maskhadov knows his political position will mean nothing in the mountains.
"As long as the rebel flag flies over Grozny, Maskhadov is the legal
president of Chechnya and a negotiated settlement still is possible."
Moscow has nixed any chance of peace talks for months, claiming there is no
authoritative Chechen leader to deal with. That could change.
"Taking cities is very important from a political point of view, but the
guerrillas will be around for a long time," says Alexei Mineyev, deputy head
of Rosinform, the Russian government's special department for handling the
issue of Chechnya with the media. "I wouldn't make any forecasts that the
guerrilla war will end anytime soon."
The head of the 54-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe, Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, is currently visiting the
region in hopes of setting up a face-to-face meeting with Mr. Maskhadov.
"Vollebaek is willing to attend a meeting between Maskhadov and Russian
Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu," Reuters quoted Mr. Vollebaek's spokesman
as saying. "Everything depends on the Russians."
International pressure on Russia to halt the fighting and start talking has
been strong. The International Monetary Fund has delayed disbursement of
approved loans to Moscow, and the European Union is even threatening economic
Vollebaek's visit could present Russian doves with an opportunity to at least
bolster Maskhadov's position by setting up a meeting with him.
"It really is time to start thinking about the exit strategy," says Vassily
Lipitsky, an analyst with the Foundation for Realism in Politics in Moscow.
"Even a successful outcome of the battle for Grozny will only drive the
rebels into the mountains, where they can hold out for years.
"If we allow the focus of the war to shift ... it will play into the hands of
the more radical Chechen leaders, like Basayev. And that would make any
negotiations far more difficult."
International Herald Tribune
December 16, 1999
[for personal use only]
No Easy Escape for Moscow From Likely Chechnya Fallout
By Jim Hoagland The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - Confident that he is on the brink of military success in
Chechnya, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is moving quickly to repair
the diplomatic damage done by the Russian army's savage campaign there. He
hopes that this will help win U.S. support for his bid to succeed Boris
Yeltsin in the Kremlin.
The army's harsh tactics leave smoldering wreckage and destroyed lives in
Chechnya that will haunt reconstruction efforts. And Mr. Putin's political
tactics are likely to leave Russian politics and diplomacy stranded ina
wasteland from which there can be no easy exit.
While the army continues smashing the Islamic guerrillas and those unlucky
enough to live in their vicinity in Grozny, Russian voters will on Sunday
elect a new national Parliament. Polls suggest that Mr. Putin's allies will
do well while his potential rivals for the presidency will suffer major
Those results would re-create the current fragmented Duma. An obstructionist
Communist Party will have the largest bloc, with 20 to 25 percent of the
chamber's 450 deputies, while the coalition of pro-Western liberals who have
not been war hawks in Chechnya may lose seats to Mr. Putin's centrists.
The Duma in place has stymied arms control accords, serious economic reform
at home and broader cooperation with the West. The impact of the new Duma
being just like or worse than the old Duma may be more lasting on
U.S.-Russian relations than the effect of the Chechen war.
The return of an obstructionist, partly corrupt Duma would in large part be a
result of electioneering tactics pursued by Mr. Putin's camp, which has
single-mindedly concentrated its fire on his presidential rivals and ignored
or aided the Communists and the fringe nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
While American politicians stump New Hampshire and Iowa, Mr. Putin has been
building his name recognition in the devastated wilds of Chechnya. Artillery
shells and air raids have been to his campaign what focus groups and
fund-raisers are to those of Al Gore or George W. Bush.
For insecure and traumatized Russian voters today, war is not politics by
other means. War is the very essence of politics for them. In a nearly
bankrupt country where there can be no realistic discussion of health care
plans or campaign finance reform, how quickly and thoroughly the always
troublesome Chechens can be subdued is satisfying debate material.
Mr. Putin's strong support for the army has revived national pride in
troubled times. While the military aspects are wildly dissimilar, the
political effect of Chechnya is not unlike that experienced in the United
States in 1983, when the invasion of Grenada eclipsed discussion of U.S.
losses in Lebanon.
The Kremlin has even turned foreign criticism of the campaign to domestic
political advantage, decrying the ''hypocrisy'' of NATO countries that
allegedly did the same thing to Serbia that the Russians are doing to
Chechnya. This is not surprising. What is more interesting is the bad cop,
good cop routine that President Yeltsin and Mr. Putin are following in
dealing with the outside world.
Responding to sharp criticism from European governments, Mr. Yeltsin canceled
a scheduled Dec. 21 summit with French and German leaders. Milder comments by
Bill Clinton brought an angry rattling of rockets by Mr. Yeltsin, on a visit
to Beijing last week, at his onetime good friend Bill.
But Mr. Putin, looking forward to the post-Chechnya world and next June's
presidential election in Russia, rattles soft soap instead. He told the
Financial Times this week that ''it is our responsibility to respect the
opinion of our Western partners.''
More substantively, there have been feelers to the Clinton administration
about Mr. Putin meeting with Vice President Al Gore to resume the high-level
joint commission that Mr. Gore co-chaired with Mr. Putin's predecessors. The
feelers have been allowed to wither at a time when a campaigning Gore seems
eager to distance himself from Russian politicians and policy.
But the Yeltsin and Putin adviser Valentin Yumashev did meet in Washington
this month with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in what one source
portrayed as an effort to keep channels open for the future. Mr. Yumashev
played a key role in the slashing campaign for the Duma aimed at weakening
anyone who challenged Mr. Putin or the war in Chechnya.
The Clinton administration and its successor should be in no rush to embrace
Mr. Putin if he does succeed in his twin campaigns. He first has enormous
damage to repair, in Chechnya and in Russia.
December 16, 1999
'Young Reformers' Link Up With Unity
By Natalya Shulyakovskaya
In one of the more curious developments of the State Duma campaign, the Union
of Right Forces of the so-called young reformers is emerging as the youth
wing of the Kremlin-created Unity bloc.
"After the Union demonstrated that they had real chances to make the 5
percent barrier, they got the support, although I should say the partial
support, of [Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin," said Igor Bunin, director of
the Center for Political Technologies.
Putin met earlier this week with Sergei Kiriyenko, a former prime minister
and the Union leader. After the meeting, Putin said the Union's program was
"a document that needed additional scrupulous work," but "a lot of its points
could already be adopted." He said he liked the Union's economic program and
its proposals to bring a younger generation of people into power.
So far, according to the polls, six parties are likely to get the 5 percent
of the vote necessary to make it into the Duma, parliament's lower house. In
addition to Unity and the Union of Right Forces, they are the Communist
Party, Fatherland-All Russia, Yabloko and the Zhirinovsky Bloc. Vladimir
Zhirinovsky's supporters in the Duma also have tended to support the Kremlin
in crucial votes.
Putin has said he will vote for Unity, an announcement that fueled the bloc's
meteoric rise in the polls. Union is the second bloc to get his support.
"After they [the Kremlin] brought Unity up to 17 percent in the polls, they
decided to make a second bet," Bunin said. "It is not 'the young wing of
Unity,' but is simply another part of the coalition they are building up for
Kommersant, a business daily recently bought by Kremlin-connected tycoon
Boris Berezovsky, carried the story about Putin receiving Kiriyenko on the
front page Tuesday, accompanied by a large photo of Union's new billboard.
The billboard's slogan, which the paper said had the prime minister's
approval, was: "Young Generation. Putin f for President, Kiriyenko f for the
Duma. We need the young."
The paper also speculated that it was Anatoly Chubais, the chief of Unified
Energy Systems and the main organizer and strategist of the Union of the
Right Forces, who arranged the meeting.
Chubais and Berezovsky, two political power brokers, have had falling-outs in
the past but seem to come together at election time for the Kremlin's
All the signs indicate that Berezovsky and Chubais are back in business
together again. Berezovsky-controlled ORT television grants generous air time
to the Union, while Chubais has said Berezovsky is the best in Russia at
"He also fulfills them in a classy way," Chubais said in a lengthy interview
with the Argumenty i Fakty weekly published Wednesday.
Berezovsky is the reported mastermind behind the Unity bloc.
Chubais went on to suggest there should be someone "comparable to Berezovsky"
standing by him to sort out his great ideas from the dangerous ones. "So far,
there is no such a person," he added.
"It looks like he is offering himself," Bunin said.
Chubais said Kiriyenko would make a good prime minister under a President
"Kiriyenko and Putin make a good match. Kiriyenko would be responsible for
the economy, finance and the market methodology. And Putin would look after
security, the power ministries and the matters of the state," Chubais was
quoted as saying. He said it was important for leaders "to belong to the same
generation and speak the same language." Putin is 47, and Kiriyenko is 37.
Chubais said the problem with Fatherland-All Russia leader Yevgeny Primakov
is that, at 70, he is too old: "He is a smart, normal, cultured man, who has
seen a lot in his life. But the language is different. It would take a lot of
work for him to understand me and for me to understand him."
Kiriyenko f who aside from running for the Duma is challenging Moscow Mayor
Yury Luzhkov, another Fatherland-All Russia leader, in the mayoral race f is
up-front about his readiness to ally with the Kremlin's party.
He said Wednesday the Union would like to form a majority in the new Duma
with Yabloko and Unity, Interfax reported. He said the blocs were already
holding talks. "This majority would be able to provide support for Putin's
government and make parliament's work constructive," he said.
Chubais and the Union have supported the Kremlin's war in Chechnya f to the
distaste of some of their more liberal supporters. Shortly after the Russian
military began bombing Chechnya in late September, Chubais persuaded the
federal government to cut off electricity supplies to the republic.
The move only helped the Union's ratings. From about 3 percent in mid-summer,
the Union's ratings have climbed to 5 percent, according to the All-Russia
Center for Public Opinion Research, or VTsIOM.
Leonid Sedov, a political analyst with VTsIOM, said the Union made a
calculated move to tap into the militaristic and "hurrah-patriotic" mood.
"The Union is perfectly in tune with their voters' attitudes," he said.
"In the long term, it is a strategic and human mistake on their part," Sedov
said, since the bloc has alienated some of its liberal core supporters. "But
as far as the math goes, they made some gains."
Sedov said the intermarriage between the tough prime minister and the Union's
group of liberal economists has a larger symbolic meaning. "Putin is styling
himself as a Pinochet-style leader who runs a police state, but is liberal in
Pollsters caught in Russia election storm
By Andrei Shukshin
MOSCOW, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Russian political pollsters, caught up in a
campaign for a parliamentary election which has turned increasingly bitter,
have denied manipulating results to favour candidates.
They also say wild swings in party and leaders' ratings ahead of Sunday's
vote are due to the fact that Russians are more susceptible to politicians'
images than to policy debates.
``All these (manipulation) scandals have been sparked on purpose to serve
various public relations campaigns,'' Yelena Bashkirova, the head of the
independent ROMIR opinion research centre, told Reuters.
``It is all very bad but it is part of our life.''
Political parties have used favourable opinion poll findings to stress their
appeal among voters ahead of the election to the State Duma lower house of
parliament, although opponents have often dismissed the results as inaccurate
The accusations have flown between top parties contesting the national
election, between candidates in a vote for the key position of mayor of
Moscow and between established pollsters and small companies serving
``There is strong manipulation of public opinion going on,'' said Bashkirova.
``And when people talk about all those falsifications, all those outrageous
things, they implicitly blame us, the biggest agencies, which is totally
``There are forces that want to provoke a quarrel between us,'' she said.
``We spend a lot of time explaining our position.''
Recently the agencies have had to deal with another challenge -- trying to
explain the runaway popularity of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and election
bloc Yedinstvo (Unity), headed by Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Yuri Levada, head of the VTsIOM agency, who likes to stress there is no place
for sensation in sociology, has admitted that the rise by Putin and Yedinstvo
from popularity in single digits to top places in a matter of weeks has been
Putin's popularity, measured at around two percent when he was named as
premier in August, has soared to above 40 percent since he launched a
campaign against rebels in the breakaway region of Chechnya.
Putin has also given Yedinstvo a boost by giving it his backing. Both Putin
and Yedinstvo are seen as backed by the Kremlin administration of President
Boris Yeltsin, which is keen to maintain the presidency's strong grip on
Bashkirova said the voters' support was not founded on an understanding of
``He is a kind of hero, but of a mythological nature as nobody knows who
Putin really is,'' she said. ``Is he good or bad? What does he think? Is he
independent or not? There is just the image of a man who knows what to do.''
RUSSIANS ESTRANGED FROM POLITICS
Levada said Russians, who over the past few years have lived through all
kinds of political upheavals and alliances, have become immune to storms
raging in the political arena.
``We explain this phenomenon by the ability of Russians to separate their
everyday life and that of their relatives from wars and politics,'' he said
recently at a news conference.
This also seems to be confirmed by the fact that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov
has hardly seen his ratings fall in the capital despite a vicious campaign in
some state-owned media to blacken his image.
At the same time, his popularity as a potential president has slumped and now
stands close to zero.
Bashkirova said Russians were ready to support those who made an impression
on them without querying their political background because Russia was still
a long way away from becoming a traditional civil society with established
``We are just starting on the way. There is no ideology as such,'' she said.
``People react to politicians as if they were some sort of film actors, some
images created for them.''
``People do not differentiate between political parties and their programmes
because they are all alike,''
``People live in a kind of virtual reality.''
December 15, 1999
[translation for personal use only from RIA Novosti]
ONLY KPRF, MEDVED, OVR AND YABLOKO CAN BE CALM
The Elections to the State Duma Will Most Likely Not Be
Mikhail GORSHKOV, director general of the Russian
Independent Institute of Social and National Problems
Today is the last day when sociologists may in compliance
with the law on elections publish the results of their polls
reflecting the ratings of electoral associations and blocs on the
eve of elections. That is why, I would like to use for the last
time the opportunity to present to the readers the results of the
all-Russian public opinion poll reflecting the electoral
sentiments of Russian citizens on the eve of parliamentary
elections. The poll was conducted by the Russian Independent
Institute of Social and National Problems on December 5-8 this
year in all the territorial and economic districts of the country
and involved 1,800 respondents of the age of 18 and more
representing all the basic social and professional groups of the
population. The average error of the results of the poll is
NOT ALL TO ELECTIONS!
The political battles among the basic participants in the
State Duma elections have overshadowed a very important question:
"Will the voters come to the polls?"
The results of our poll give grounds to speak positive about
this. Indeed, whereas the share of those wishing to participate
in the parliamentary polls constituted 52% by the beginning of
summer and 67% early in October, 10-12 days before the elections
the share of the active electorate has come close to the mark of
72%. However, one should not be misled by the results of the
latest data. The experience of studying the electors' behaviour
at the elections during the previous years gives grounds to cut
the number of potential electors by 10-13%. Consequently, the
real level of the voters' turn-out on December 19, 1999 will be
within the range of 59-61%.
By their electoral activity women match men. However, more
than half the youth aged below 30 are inclined to ignore the
elections to the State Duma.
An interesting detail: the current electorate may turn out
to be quite educated. In any case, there are 25% more persons
with higher education among those wishing to vote than persons
with secondary education. To speak about the electoral activity
of the basic social and professional groups, its lowest level is
typical of higher school students, workers and employees in the
sphere of trade, services and transport, and its higher level is
characteristic of representatives of engineering and technical
intelligentsia, the military, pensioners and the unemployed.
The electors' activity by the territorial and economic
districts is approximately the same. But still it is expected to
be below the average statistical figures in St. Petersburg and
the North Caucasus.
It is worth noting the rather unusual situation with the
electoral activity among the supporters of small electoral
associations. In some associations of this type (Spiritual
Heritage, the Congress of Russian Communities, the Movement of
Yuri Boldyrev, the Party of Peace and Unity) the overwhelming
majority of their supporters intend to participate in the voting,
while in other associations (the Conservative Movement of Russia,
the Party in Defence of Women, the movement of Patriotic Forces
"Russian Cause") only the minority of their supporters have the
intention to participate.
As for the level of electoral activity among the supporters
of well-known and mass parties and electoral associations, no
significant surprises are expected. As in the previous years, the
supporters of the KPRF (up to 90%) constitute the largest number
of persons wishing to participate in the parliamentary polls. The
expected turn-out of the supporters of other large associations
also looks rather good: YABLOKO (up to 80%), Unity (up to 80%),
OVR (up to 80%), NDR (up to 70%), Russia's Women (up to 70%). In
reality, the turn-out of the supporters of the above parties and
movements will be somewhat lower (by 8-10%), but still, against
the background of average data across the country, it will be
However, this cannot be said about such well-known political
formations as the Union of Right Forces and Zhirinovsky's bloc.
Proceeding from the results of the poll, most probably, not more
than half of their supporters will come to the polling stations,
which may influence radically their electoral future.
Above we talked only about that part of the population,
which expresses their desire to participate in the parliamentary
elections. But there is also the other part of the population
which is rather numerous and which does not intend to participate
in the elections (6%) or is still hesitating about participation
(22%) and which, as the many-year experience shows, most
frequently ignores the elections. What is the structure of this
part of the population?
There is an equal number of men and women among passive
electors. The highest share of those not wishing to elect is in
the age group of 22-40 years (9-12%), while the share of hesitant
persons is the highest in the age group of 18-40 years (36-25%).
The greatest percentage of those wishing to vote is among people
with incomplete secondary or secondary education (9-6%) and the
highest percentage of hesitant voters is among people with
secondary and incomplete higher education (25-21%).
Many "refusers" can be found among the workers and employees
of the sphere of trade and services (9%), small business (11%)
and the unemployed (10%). The largest number of hesitant voters
can be found among workers (26%), workers and employees of the
sphere of trade and services (30%), entrepreneurs (28%), rural
residents 924%), higher school students (36%) and the unemployed
Back in the Soviet times the slogan "All to Elections!" was
quite popular. Now it is time to replace it by the slogan of the
opposite nature: "Not All to Elections!" It reflects not only and
perhaps not so much the political passiveness of a considerable
part of Russians as their distrust for any power structures,
their attitude to the war of sleaze which erupts in the election
period and finally their conviction that their participation or
non-participation in the elections will not change anything.
On the Election Field
To give you the picture of the people's political likes and
dislikes, we will compare the current, and the previous RNISiNP
poll, held in early October this year.
Even a cursory look at the information provided in Table 1
prompts the conclusion that the current election campaign is more
chaotic than ever before. The electoral potential of the OVR,
which seemed to be the indisputable leader of the parliamentary
race, dropped by 2.5 times in a matter of two months, ceding the
first, and even the second place in the provisional lineup of
political forces. The Communist Party (KPRF) surged ahead again,
with the election newborn, Unity or Medved (Bear), as the runner
up. Yabloko, following its far from commendable tradition, began
the campaign rather well but lost 5-6% of the vote on the eve of
the elections. The Union of the Right Forces (SPS), which many
thought would get less than 5% of the vote, has grown into a
probable claimant of the Duma seats.
This intricate election picture appeals to the political
feeling of the electorate, drawing more attention to the
parliamentary elections. On the other hand, its illogical nature
embarrasses many voters, creating havoc in their minds and
forcing them to review their political choice as the elections
draw nearer. A part of the former KPRF supporters, who sided with
the OVR in May-September 1999, have returned to their political
idols, while most OVR supporters ran over to the hastily created
Unity, and the SPS was reinforced with a part of Yabloko
It is believed that the main reason for the reduction of the
OVR's election potential was the information war waged against
Primakov and Luzhkov on the ORT TV channel. Indeed, the shows of
Sergei Dorenko did their bit. But could his analytical programmes
alone, even though broadcast by ORT, really undermine the OVR's
initial might? This idea is not reaffirmed by our polls. Look at
the results shown in Table 2 to see our point.
The table shows that the public vote goes not for Dorenko's
show, but for Pavel Sheremet's Vremya and Yevgeny Kiselev's Itogi
news shows. The residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg trust
Dorenko's shows the least (22-23%). His rating is rather modest
also in the Volga-Vyatka, Far Eastern and North Caucasian regions
(26-33%). He is trusted by only 23-33% of such socio-professional
groups as engineers and technicians, the humanitarian
intelligentsia, servicemen, urban pensioners and employees.
It is clear that the roots of the OVR's political fall lie
deeper than the information attacks. It shouldn't be forgotten
that its main resource lies at the administrative-power level,
rather than at the level of ideology and world outlook, as in the
case of the KPRF, Yabloko and even Zhirinovsky's LDPR. There is a
considerable part of voters who vacillate together with the
policy line of the power party, meaning that they prefer to
follow those who hold the basic levers of power and influence.
Yesterday it was the OVR, but today a considerable part of its
electorate think that the prize has been snatched by Unity,
encouraged by the authorities. If Unity flops tomorrow, its
virtual electoral potential will plummet, just as it has happened
with the OVR. For they are actually twin brothers.
There can be only one conclusion from the above: When
determining the reason for the falls and flops in the election
campaign, we must take into consideration the quality of that
electoral mass which rallies around the given movement. The
electoral bread made from instant yeast proves unstable.
It is very important to see what happens with the electorate
of the leading parties and associations, but we should also cover
all other participants in the Duma elections. Their electoral
possibilities (as of December 8) are shown in Table 3.
As you see, the overwhelming majority of the election
participants have a slim chance of negotiating the 5% eligibility
barrier. The 0.0% figure entered for some parties and
associations does not mean that they have no supporters at all;
it means that they are so few that they did not even make it into
the poll results. It is important that a considerable number of
the voters still don't know whom to support. About a half of them
will not attend the elections at all, but the other half (8-10%)
will make their choice at the last possible moment. This can
influence the election results, and quite unexpectedly at that.
So far, the following parties and movements are sure to get
Duma seats: the KPRF, Unity, OVR and Yabloko. The SPS, the
Zhirinovsky bloc and partly Women of Russia might get into the
Duma, too. We offer you a digest description of their social
The KPRF enjoys equal support among men and women; mostly
among those who are above 50; those who have an incomplete
secondary education; pensioners, rural dwellers, workers,
engineers, employee, predominantly living in the North-Western,
Central, Central-Black Soil, Volga, North Caucasian and East
Unity has nearly equal support among men and women; in all
age groups; among voters with all kinds of education and among
all social groups, but has especially many supporters in rural
areas (26%), very few in Moscow (3%), and considerably more in
other regions, above all in the North and the Far East.
The OVR has nearly equal support among men and women; in all
age groups; among those who have a general, higher and incomplete
higher education; among students of higher schools, workers,
engineering-technical and humanitarian intelligentsia, servicemen
and the Interior Ministry staff; predominantly in Moscow (24%),
St. Petersburg, the Volga-Vyatka, Central-Black Soil, Urals and
Far Eastern regions.
Yabloko has equal support among men and women; in all age
groups, among those who have an incomplete higher and higher
education; among engineering-technical and humanitarian
intelligentsia, the trade and services personnel, employees,
small businessmen, students of higher schools and jobless, above
all in St. Petersburg (18%), Moscow, Urals, the North Caucasus,
Western Siberia and the Central region.
The SPS has equal support among men and women, above all
those who are under 40; among those who have a higher and
incomplete higher education; among higher school students (15%),
humanitarian and engineering-technical intelligentsia, the trade
and services personnel, employees and small businessmen; and
predominantly in St. Petersburg (13%), the Northern,
Volga-Vyatka, Volga and Urals regions.
The Zhirinovsky bloc has nearly equal support among men and
women; mostly among young people with a secondary and incomplete
higher education; above all among workers, rural dwellers,
servicemen, higher school students and jobless; predominantly in
St. Petersburg, the Volga-Vyatka, North Caucasian, Urals, West
Siberian and East Siberian regions.
The Women of Russia is mostly supported by women; aged above
40; with an incomplete secondary and secondary education; among
the trade and services personnel, employees,
engineering-technical intelligentsia and jobless; in the
Northern, Far Eastern, West Siberian and Volga regions.
Since the presidential elections are not remote either, it
would be interesting to see how the supporters of presidential
candidates plan to vote during the parliamentary elections.
It is a paradox but Putin's supporters are the most varied
lot: 26% of them would vote for Unity, and another five roughly
equal groups (5-7%) for the SPS, the KPRF, the OVR, Yabloko and
the Women of Russia. A third of the premier's supporters have not
made their choice yet.
The supporters of Yevgeny Primakov are vacillating, too.
Only 48% of them would vote for the OVR, while 14% would support
the KPRF. Another three equal groups (4%) would vote for Unity,
Yabloko and the Women of Russia. But 17% are not decided yet.
Yuri Luzhkov's supporters make up a similar picture, while the
electorate of Gennady Zyuganov is much more decided. Nearly 90%
of them would vote for the KPRF and only 7% are still thinking
whom to support. The electorate of Grigory Yavlinsky is rather
consistent, with 80% of them planning to vote for Yabloko.
Changes in the share of votes who are ready to vote for
the list of candidates representing the leading parties
and associations (%)
Election association % of those ready to vote
October 1999 December 1999
KPRF 22.9 23.1
Unity 5.0 14.9
OVR 30.6 12.0
Yabloko 15.9 10.5
SPS 3.6 5.4
LDPR (Zhirinovsky bloc) 3.5 3.8
Our Home Is Russia 1.3 1.0
The voters' attitude to the Central TV analytical shows (%)
Analytical show Mostly Mostly Not Don't
trust mistrust interested get it
1. Vremya, Pavel 54.3 24.1 21.0 0.6
2. Sergei Dorenko 39.1 40.4 19.4 1.1
3. Zerkalo, Nikolai 33.9 29.6 35.8 0.7
4. Nedelya, 11.6 12.9 67.0 8.5
5. Postscriptum, 5.8 11.9 73.2 9.1
6. Itogi, Yevgeny 53.7 15.0 26.6 4.7
7. Obozrevatel, 14.8 12.9 64.7 7.6
S. Kucher (TV-6)
The share of those who are ready to vote for the list of
Duma candidates from election associations and blocs (%)
Share of Share of those Election association or bloc
all voters who will vote
0.1 0.0 The Conservative Movement
0.2 0.2 The Russian National Union
3.0 3.1 The Women of Russia
0.5 0.7 The Stalinist Bloc: Working
Russia, Officers for the USSR
9.1 10.5 Yabloko
0.6 0.6 Communists, Working People of
Russia for the Soviet Union
0.4 0.2 Peace, Labour, May
0.2 0.2 The bloc of General Andrei
Nikolayev and Academician
0.1 0.1 The Spiritual Heritage
0.3 0.5 The bloc of the Congress of
Russian Communities and the
Movement of Yuri Boldyrev
0.1 0.1 The Party of Peace and Unity
0.1 0.0 The Party in Defence of Women
13.5 14.9 Unity or Medved (Bear)
0.1 0.1 Social Democrats
0.4 0.4 The movement in Support of the
3.0 3.8 The Zhirinovsky bloc
0.6 0.6 The movement For Civil Dignity
10.5 12.0 The Fatherland-All Russia bloc
18.5 23.1 The Communist Party (KPRF)
0.0 0.0 The Russian Cause movement of
0.1 0.2 The All-Russian Political
Party of the People
5.7 5.4 The Union of the Right Forces
0.7 1.0 Our Home Is Russia
0.0 0.0 The Socialist Party of Russia
1.3 1.7 The Party of Pensioners
0.1 0.1 The Russian Socialist Party
0.3 0.2 Some other party
5.1 2.7 Against everybody
24.5 18.1 Undecided yet