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The Moscow Times, December 2, 2003

The Parties to Keep an Eye On

The Moscow Times

Agrarian Party of Russia (APR)

Founding: Registered as a political party by Mikhail Lapshin in 1993.

Duma Leader: Nikolai Kharitonov, head of the Agro-Industry faction

Party List: Altai President Mikhail Lapshin, Alexander Nazarchuk, Alexei Chepa

Seats in the Duma: 43, the Agro-Industry faction

1999 Results: Agrarian deputies got into the Duma as candidates with the Communist Party.

Popularity Rating, Nov. 1999: Not applicable

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: 2 percent

Platform: The Agrarian Party calls itself a left-oriented party. It is campaigning with a promise to defend the interests of workers and the rural population.

Financial Backer: Agro-Holding head Alexei Chepa

Notable Controversy: Constant party infighting since at least 1995, when the Agrarians first failed to win enough votes to get into the Duma on their own.

Memorable Quotes: "We are for peace and bread." Mikhail Lapshin

"[Soviet secret police founder Felix] Dzerzhinsky was a man with an ardent heart, cold mind and clean hands. Nobody can say anything bad about this man who symbolizes exceptional honesty." Nikolai Kharitonov

Electorate: Rural population

Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF)

Founding: Registered as a political party in 1993 and considers itself the heir of the Soviet Communist Party.

Duma Leaders: Gennady Zyuganov, Valentin Kuptsov, Duma education and science committee chairman Ivan Melnikov, Leonid Ivanchenko

Party List: Gennady Zyuganov, Nikolai Kondratenko, Nikolai Kharitonov

Seats in the Duma: 110

1999 Results: 24.29 percent, more than any other party

Popularity Rating, Nov. 1999: 25 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: 23 percent

Platform: KPRF claims both democratic and Soviet ideals. It advocates a strong role for the state in managing a gradual transition to a socialist-market economy. It is campaigning under the slogan of "Against the Current Anti-People Regime."

Financial Backers: Viktor Vidmanov, head of agricultural firm Rosagropromstroi; Igor Igoshin, head of agro-industrial group Real-Agro; Yukos

Notable Controversy: Ousted several prominent members last year, including Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, for refusing to give up their Duma posts in protest over the loss of a number of the party's Duma committee chairmanships.

Memorable Quote: "[Prime Minister Mikhail] Kasyanov's economic policy is only good for the oligarchs. It is an economy based on gas and oil pipes." Gennady Zyuganov

Electorate: Pensioners, people dissatisfied with current regime

Homeland bloc

Founding: Registered in September, Homeland is made up of 29 left-patriotic organizations.

Duma Leaders: Duma international affairs committee chairman Sergei Glazyev, Duma Deputy and Presidential Envoy Dmitry Rogozin

Party List: Sergei Glazyev, Dmitry Rogozin, retired army General Valentin Varennikov

Seats in the Duma: 2

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: 3 percent

Platform: Homeland is widely seen as a Kremlin project to attract part of the Communist vote. It says it is against the oligarchs and is campaigning under the slogan of "Against the Exploitation of the Country's Natural Resources."

Financial Backers: Unclear, though most likely the Kremlin

Memorable Quotes: "Our movement is a patriotic movement comprised of left-wing and right-wing people." Sergei Glazyev

"Russia should make up its mind about what is more important: international commitments and participation in the activities of the Council of Europe, for which the abolition of the death penalty is a sacred cow, or Russian public opinion and the search for a way to combat suicide bombings, terrorism and drug abuse." Dmitry Rogozin

Electorate: Protest and nationalist voters

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR)

Founding: Registered as a political party in 1992.

Duma Leaders: Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Alexei Mitrofanov, Igor Lebedev

Party List: Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Alexei Ostrovsky, Igor Lebedev

Seats in the Duma: 14

1999 Results: 5.98 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 1999: 5 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: 8 percent

Platform: LDPR describes itself as a centrist democratic party calling for a strong Russia. It wants to extend the presidential term to eight years and merge some of the country's 89 regions. It is widely seen as an ultranationalist party and has been accused of supporting xenophobia and anti-Semitism. It is campaigning under the slogan of "For Russia, For the Poor."

Financial Backers: BIN-Bank co-owner Mikhail Gutseriyev; the presidential administration, in exchange for votes on bills

Notable Controversy: Too many to name. One of the more recent scandals was in June, when Vladimir Zhirinovsky told the Communists that they should have joined Hitler to "conquer the world so that Russia would still be a superpower."

Memorable Quote: "A man for every woman and a bottle of vodka for every man." Vladimir Zhirinovsky

Electorate: Protest voters, pensioners

People's Party

Founding: Created from a coalition of single-mandate deputies (calling themselves People's Deputies) who joined forces after getting into the Duma in 1999. Registered as a political party in 2002.

Duma Leaders: Gennady Raikov, Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Averchenko, Valery Galchenko

Party List: Gennady Raikov, Gennady Troshev, Nikolai Derzhavin

Seats in the Duma: 43

1999 Results: Not applicable

Popularity Rating, Nov. 1999: Not applicable

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: Not applicable, because its candidates are again running in single-mandate districts.

Platform: The People's Party portrays itself as a left-wing party unassociated with those in power. But over the past two years, it has shown few signs of being leftist and has always voted for bills backed by United Russia. It is campaigning under the slogans of "Against Bureaucracy" and "Against the Anti-People Oligarch System."

Financial Backer: The Kremlin

Notable Controversy: The People's Party created a media circus last year by proposing a ban on gay sex and the reinstatement of capital punishment.

Memorable Quotes: "You need to punish homosexuality for three reasons: the spread of AIDS, the destruction of spiritual morals and the existence in Russia of four religious confessions that ban it." Gennady Raikov

"Simple people born in the U.S.S.R. voted for our deputies, and we have to represent their left-wing ideas." Valery Galchenko

Electorate: Protest voters

Russia's Rebirth Party of Life bloc

Founding: Russia's Rebirth and the Party of Life were registered as political parties in 2002. The two parties joined forces for the Duma vote in September.

Duma Leader: Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov

Party List: Gennady Seleznyov, Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov, Valentina Tereshkova (the first woman in space)

Seats in the Duma: 1

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: less than 1 percent

Platform: The bloc considers itself centrist and is campaigning with a promise to tackle social problems. It openly backs United Russia.

Financial Backers: Unclear, though most likely the Kremlin

Memorable Quotes: "We are prepared for constructive and honest cooperation with the president, the government, political parties and public organizations because they are pursuing the goal of creating a social state." Gennady Seleznyov

"I feel that a four-year presidential term is insufficient for Russia. Seven is fine." Sergei Mironov

Electorate: Unclear

Union of Right Forces (SPS)

Founding: SPS dates back to 1993 when then-Deputy Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar formed the pro-presidential bloc Russian Choice. Registered as a political party in 2002.

Duma Leaders: Boris Nemtsov, Deputy Duma Speaker Irina Khakamada

Party List: Boris Nemtsov, Irina Khakamada, Unified Energy Systems chief executive Anatoly Chubais.

Seats in the Duma: 31

1999 Results: 8.52 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 1999: 5 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: 6 percent

Platform: SPS defines itself as a right-oriented party advocating free-market principles. It is campaigning with a promise to eradicate poverty through social reforms.

Financial Backers: Yukos, Unified Energy Systems

Notable Controversy: Yabloko accused SPS of being behind the Yabloko Without Yavlinsky movement, which called for Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky's resignation. SPS denied this.

Memorable Quote: "Now we have in front of us a political fight, or a good scrap. This is why I'm here and I agree to take part in it. I couldn't miss such an event. I cannot deny myself such pleasure." Anatoly Chubais of his decision to run on the third spot on SPS's federal list

Electorate: Middle-class and wealthy people pleased with the reforms of the early 1990s and the current situation.

Yabloko

Founding: Yabloko is a descendent of a movement created in 1993 by Grigory Yavlinsky, Yury Boldyrev and Vladimir Lukin. (It took its name from the founders' surnames.) Registered as a political party in 2002.

Duma Leaders: Grigory Yavlinsky, Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Lukin, Sergei Mitrokhin, Sergei Ivanenko

Party List: Grigory Yavlinsky, Vladimir Lukin, Igor Artemyev

Seats in the Duma: 17

1999 Results: 5.93 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 1999: 9 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: 6 percent

Platform: Yabloko defines itself as a social-liberal party aimed at achieving social liberalism. It is campaigning under the slogan of "Against the Criminal-Oligarch System."

Financial Backer: Yukos

Notable Controversy: Media reported that Boris Berezovsky reached an agreement with Grigory Yavlinsky to finance the party. Party leaders denied any ties with the businessman.

Memorable Quote: "Right-wing parties like, for example, SPS want liberalism for the monopolists and for the segment of society that works with them. We want liberalism for all." Sergei Mitrokhin

Electorate: Well-educated people who believe in democracy and a market economy but have been left behind by the changes of the past decade.

United Russia

Founding: The faction was created in February 2002 when pro-Kremlin Unity merged with Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov's Fatherland-All Russia. The two parties were rivals in 1999, with the Kremlin creating Unity two months before the vote to counter Fatherland-All Russia. Registered as a political party in 2002.

Duma Leaders: Vladimir Pekhtin of the Unity faction, Vyacheslav Volodin of the Fatherland-All Russia faction

Party List: Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev

Seats in the Duma: 142

1999 Results: Unity received 23.32 percent; Fatherland-All Russia received 13.33 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 1999: Unity, 18 percent; Fatherland-All Russia, 12 percent

Popularity Rating, Nov. 2003: 29 percent

Platform: United Russia calls itself the "party of power" and says its main ideology is to support the policies of President Vladimir Putin. It defines itself as a centrist party. It is campaigning under the slogan of "A Strong Russia Is a United Russia."

Financial Backers: The Kremlin and big companies, including LUKoil, Sibneft, Tyumen Oil Co.

Notable Controversy: Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov filed a complaint with election officials after President Vladimir Putin addressed United Russia's pre-election congress and threw his weight behind the party. Election officials ruled that Putin had not violated the election law.

Memorable Quote: "[President Vladimir Putin] said he voted for our party in 1999. He is one of our electorate." Boris Gryzlov, chairman of United Russia's highest committee

Electorate: The party has no defined electorate, but it attracts voters from different layers of the society, many of whom work for government agencies and state-owned or -controlled companies.

These lists represent the nine parties that have the best chance of securing seats in the next State Duma.

Popularity ratings are based on public opinion polls conducted by prominent sociologist Yury Levada and his team of researchers who worked at the VTsIOM polling agency in 1999 and are currently at VTsIOM-A.

 

See also:

the original at
www.themoscowtimes.com

Elections to the State Duma, 2003

The Moscow Times, December 2, 2003

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